Thursday: Hili dialogue

by Grania

Ahoy-hoy. It’s Thursday already – this week feels extra-short to me as Monday was a public holiday here in Ireland to facilitate the clocks going backwards or forwards or something. I rely on the All-knowing Internet to reset my phone and computers so I am only peripherally aware of it.

Today in 1957, Sputnik 2 launched with unfortunate canine astronaut Laika aboard. She survived only a few hours into her first space flight due to overheating, although the true cause of her death was not admitted for many years.


Alas, poor Laika

In 1954 the first Godzilla movie was released in Japan and claimed a spot for itself in movie history. It was a monster movie, of course; but also a comment on post-war Japan and nuclear programs particularly in the wake of the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The film has gone on to spawn numerous sequels and re-makings both in Japan and the USA.


Here’s a clip from the original.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili casts a cold eye on life, on death, and on Cyrus:

Hili: He will catch it in a moment.
A: Who, what?
Hili: Cyrus: It’s fascinating how he runs pointlessly after this ball.
In Polish:
Hili: Zaraz ją złapie.
Ja: Kto, co?
Hili: Cyrus, to fascynujące jak on bez sensu biega za tą piłką.

And as lagniappe, some more felids.

Robin Cornwell sent us a photo of her beautiful black cat Jerry. [JAC: Named after me!]


And Taskin sent in a picture of the incomparable Gus: earless but fearless.

Gus has warmed up his spot in the window and the indoor bird watching season is now well under way.



  1. Diana MacPherson
    Posted November 3, 2016 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Poor space animals. I have a commemorative Belka and Strelka stamp.

  2. rickflick
    Posted November 3, 2016 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    …and to think, instead of roasting Laika, they could have sent a thermometer and gathered the same data.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted November 3, 2016 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      And apart from killing the poor thing so painfully, just imagine the terror. It sickens me to think about it.

      • Diane G.
        Posted November 3, 2016 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

        Me too, all the worse because of how much dogs trust us…

    • eric
      Posted November 4, 2016 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      Wikipedia tells me the overheating was possibly the result of equipment failure. IOW the Russians weren’t doing some macabre test of how hot the capsule would get, it was just an unforseen accident.

      Having said that, while US and Russian animal tests were trying to keep the animals alive in space, neither country cared much about the long-term survival of the test animals after the tests were finished. The US flight with Able and Baker (monkeys) intentionally subjected them to something like 20-30 gs of acceleration.

      Some interesting factoids:
      -NASA initially planned to take one monkey: which ever candidate was able to follow instructions the best. That was Able. However, Able and Baker formed such an attachment during the training/testing period that NASA later decided it would be easier on Able to let Baker go too.
      -Both monkeys survived the trip, despite the incredible g’s. Baker died a couple days later from a reaction to the anesthetic they administered in order to take some of the sensors out after the flight. Able lived for years and went on to be a monkey ‘ambassador,’ visiting schools etc. with a handler to promote the space program.
      -Able is on display (stuffed) at the Air and Space museum.

      • rickflick
        Posted November 4, 2016 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        It has always struck me as troubling and agonizing to think about the sacrifices that have been imposed on animals used for scientific tests. On the one hand, it is often horrifically cruel treatment, but on the other hand we often gain knowledge impossible to get in any other way. I think back to the 18th century when many medical experiments were done by renowned British scientists. Dogs for example were subjected to vivisection without anesthetic. At the time many believed lower animals did not feel pain – they just exhibited reflexes without actual sensation! But, the experiments did support the growth of medical science from it’s primitive state and must have saved countless human lives.

  3. philfinn7
    Posted November 3, 2016 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Love the Yeats allusion, Grania.

  4. jrhs
    Posted November 3, 2016 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    “… Monday was a public holiday here in Ireland to facilitate the clocks going backwards or forwards or something.”

    I need a holiday for daylight saving time!!!

  5. barn owl
    Posted November 3, 2016 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Jonathan Coulton’s take on Laika:

    • rickflick
      Posted November 3, 2016 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I remember this one. You can listen here, in the Aftermath song list.

      • barn owl
        Posted November 3, 2016 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

        And was it really worth all the loss of life, starting with Laika and extending through the Challenger and Columbia disasters, for space programs that were essentially nationalistic and militaristic in nature? Probably sacrilege of some sort for a person who grew up in Houston to say this, but my opinion is that it wasn’t worth it.

        • rickflick
          Posted November 3, 2016 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

          Western civilization has always been into exploration and discovery. Since before Columbus and Cortes. It comes from the realization that we don’t know everything and new knowledge is a good thing. Over time expansion and colonization have caused the death of millions. Maybe we should have stayed small concerned only with our immediate surroundings? Americans went from the 13 colonies, the Louisiana Purchase, Alaska, Hawaii, and then the moon and soon Mars. It’s in our blood, and the effort costs some blood.

          • jeremy pereira
            Posted November 4, 2016 at 11:29 am | Permalink

            But it’s only quite recently that exploration and discovery has been done for its own sake. Most of the early western explorers did it to make money. Columbu wasn’t looking to discover new countries but to find a more profitable route to the East Indies.

            • rickflick
              Posted November 4, 2016 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

              True. But, you have to credit a certain cultural curiosity as well as shear greed. Europeans began to realize that there were huge blank areas on their maps and yearned to fill them in. During the age of discovery there began to be contingents of naturalists aboard the ships outbound from Europe. Knowledge for it’s own sake was a small but growing part of the picture.

%d bloggers like this: