Saturday: Hili dialogue

It’s Saturday, December 10, and the snow is on its way to Chicago: 5-10 inches are predicted for this afternoon and later. Fortunately, part of my retirement benefits include a free spot in the nearby University parking garage, where I will install my car before the storm hits. (Believe me, in my pre-retirement days when I parked on the streets, I’ve waited over two weeks for the snow to melt enough to dig my car out of big drifts). It’s National Lager Day in the U.S., but I may have an IPA instead, though I’m increasingly finding them too bitter since American craft brewers are overwhelming beers with too many hops. I dearly miss a good British pint like Landlord. It’s also International Human Rights Day, honoring the UN’s proclamation in 1948 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That resolution was adopted by a vote of 48-8. Who voted against it? Saudi Arabia, the USSR, Ukrainian SSR, Yugoslavia, Poland, South Africa, Czechoslovakia, and Byelorussian SSR.

Other events on this day in history include Martin Luther’s burning of his copy of the his copy of the  Exsurge Domine in Wittenberg; the Bull censured many of Luther’s famous 95 theses. Into Luther’s bonfire also went other documents of canon law and Catholic theology. On this day in 1684, Newton read to the Royal Society his paper deriving Kepler’s laws from the principle of gravity.  In 1884, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn was published; Ernest Hemingway, a big fan of the book, said this: “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.  American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.” Strong words, and an arguable thesis, but defendable nonetheless. In England, Edward VIII abdicated on this day in 1936, and, in 1978 the Nobel Committee, in a stunning move of premature plaudits, gave the Nobel Peace Prize to Prime Minister of Israel Menachem Begin and President of Egypt Anwar Sadat. Peace? Not by a long shot. It was a good try, though.

Notables born on this day include Ada Lovelace (1815), Emily Dickinson (1830), and the choreographer Hermes Pan (1909).  Those who died on this day include Alfred Nobel (1896), Walter Johnson (1946), Jascha Heifetz (1987), Rick Danko (1999), and Richard Pryor (2005). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is musing in Greek. I’d amend her statement to “Time flies—and so do the birds.” Looking up “Panta rhei,” though, it seems to mean “Everything flows,” i.e., that things are constantly changing; the statement comes from Heraclitus.

Hili: Panta rhei.
A: What does that mean?
Hili: Time flies.
In Polish:
Hili: Panta rhei.
Ja: To znaczy?
Hili: Czas leci.


  1. JohnH
    Posted December 10, 2016 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    “Time flies when you’re having fun.”
    “Fruit flies when you’re having bananas.”

    • Posted December 10, 2016 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      Or, as we fly geneticists used to say, “Time flies when you’re having fun; time’s fun when you’re having flies.”

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 10, 2016 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      Time flies like an arrow
      Fruit flies like a banana

  2. jaxkayaker
    Posted December 10, 2016 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    The Nobel Peace Prize committee seems to have a history of practicing premature plaudits.

    • Dave
      Posted December 10, 2016 at 7:13 am | Permalink

      Well, to be fair to them, they don’t have a crystal ball to see how things will turn out. And the peace Begin and Sadat made between their countries has actually lasted to the present day, even if the rest of the Middle East is still a warzone. Sadat, of course, paid for that bold move with his life, making him a far more worthy winner than some other recipients of the Peace Prize (a certain B. Obama, for example).

      • jaxkayaker
        Posted December 10, 2016 at 7:52 am | Permalink

        Yes, I was thinking of Obama.

        OTOH, when one can’t see the future, maybe wait for the future to happen before handing out awards.

        • HaggisForBrains
          Posted December 10, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink

          They seem to wait long enough before making other awards, sometimes to the extent that a prospective co-winner dies.

      • rickflick
        Posted December 10, 2016 at 10:35 am | Permalink

        Obama helped wind down two small wars and spoke strongly against starting new ones. I’d say he was a pretty good, if not ideal, pick. Also, it depends on what the alternatives were. Timing is everything, and I think the awards sometimes lead the potential as an encouragement. A signal of hope.

        • Claudia Baker
          Posted December 10, 2016 at 1:25 pm | Permalink


        • jaxkayaker
          Posted December 10, 2016 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

          If the two small wars Obama helped to wind down are Iraq and Afghanistan, the force reduction in Iraq was mandated by an agreement reached with Iraq before he took office. No credit or discredit to him there. He and Clinton wanted to extend keeping troops in Iraq, but the Iraqi government said no. That’s not promoting the cause of peace.

          We’re at war in Pakistan, just not with its government. We’re bombing in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And Yemen. And other places in Africa that don’t make the news. Libya was Obama’s version of Iraq: he dislodged a dictator, resulting in destabilization of the region.

          • rickflick
            Posted December 10, 2016 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

            You’re being a bit finicky. As Obama leaves office we have no major involvement. Give credit where credit is due. Small conflicts will flare up and linger for a very long time to come under any presidential watch. His reluctance to get involved in Syria despite pressure gives an indication of where his heart lies. The prize is deserved.

            • jaxkayaker
              Posted December 10, 2016 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

              The original criticism was that the award was premature. Citing Obama’s accomplishments following his receipt of the award doesn’t refute the criticism.

              If the Nobel committee had given the award to Obama this year, there might have been more justification, but all the drone attacks on weddings and bombings of hospitals would have dampened the enthusiasm at the award ceremony.

              I do give him credit for improving relations with Iran and trying to stop them from developing a nuclear program. His Nobel was still premature, as it was awarded before any of those developments.

              You should read or watch Dirty Wars, by the way.

            • rickflick
              Posted December 10, 2016 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

              Your “premature” criticism is duly noted. As I mentioned before, it could be an attempt by the committee to encourage recipients to live up to the expectations the award produces.

              The collateral damage issue, I think, needs to be seen in context however. The use of drones and targeted attacks on leaders by the administration is often incorrectly thought of as heartless killing of civilians. I think this is a mistake. In world war II, allied bombers leveled cities in Germany killing many millions of civilians and destroying architectural landmarks by the thousands (Dresden is the probably the worst example). Targeted killing by drones has reduced the death of civilians to a minute percentage of earlier wars. This, it seems to me, is a great step forward toward more moral warfare. It is truly tragic when wedding party or a hospital is accidentally hit in the process, but compared to the alternative, it’s a vast improvement. If you’re going to commit to war, this is the best that can be achieved. Thank goodness for the technology that allows us to prevent thousands of unnecessary deaths.

              • jaxkayaker
                Posted December 11, 2016 at 10:09 am | Permalink

                There’s evidence to support the idea that the hospital bombing was not as accidental as the government would like us to believe.

          • rickflick
            Posted December 11, 2016 at 10:44 am | Permalink

            BTW, another reason Obama was given the award was because he advocated for Global Zero. That’s a plan set forward by many top security officials from previous administrations to rid the world of nuclear weapons. The current planning shows the last warhead destroyed by 2030.
            This may be why the award seemed like a premature move – probably not many people were aware of Obama’s involvement.

  3. Richard Bond
    Posted December 10, 2016 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately, many of the British craft brewers are also overdoing the hops. I learnt decades ago, when I used to brew my own beer, that this is a bad idea. It seems, though, that the real ale beer snobs extol the virtues of hops to such an extent that these brewers are merely satisfying their market.

  4. JohnH
    Posted December 10, 2016 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    A few of the breweries are posting IBU numbers (International Bittering Units – the actual bitterness of the beer resulting from the alpha acid contribution by the hops)on the labels which aids significantly in choosing a new beer from the wide selection of IPAs now available. I hope more breweries adopt this practice.

  5. Sarah
    Posted December 10, 2016 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    She’s musing in Greek, you mean. The erudition of this cat knows no bounds!

    • Sarah
      Posted December 10, 2016 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      Oops, once again I commented on an earlier version of the post.

  6. Mike
    Posted December 10, 2016 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    I brewed a Barrel of Victorian Bitter many years ago,and my son unbeknownst to me doubled the Sugar content ,thereby doubling the Strength,though it went down beautifully, two pints and you couldn’t walk, seriously strong stuff. The missus poured it away, what I should have done was bottled it ,I would have made a fortune.

  7. GBJames
    Posted December 10, 2016 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Amen on over=hopped craft brews. I never buy IPAs. Happily there is an ample supply of most excellent smooth and delicious brew out there. One of the neighborhood breweries makes “Dapper”. They say:

    A very proper session ale that is a “mash-up” of low-alcohol, hyper drinkable British beer styles. Made with 100% UK-grown Maris Otter barley and East Kent Golding and Fuggle hops. Grassy, herbal and wonderful. Get dapper. Seek the Good.

    If you ever wander north to Milwaukee, Professor, I’ll buy you a pint or two.

  8. Claudia Baker
    Posted December 10, 2016 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Regarding Begin and Sadat, I just finished reading “My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel” by Ari Shavit. He certainly doesn’t gloss over any aspect of that tragic tale, and though there is a glimmer of hope, it is difficult to see any way out of the turmoil. Has anyone else read it?

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted December 10, 2016 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      Yes, I know the title should be in italics or underlined, but I don’t know how to do that on this page. Techno-challenged sometimes.

      • Diane G.
        Posted December 10, 2016 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        Quotes work just fine. 🙂

        But if you want to use italics, type:

        less-than-sign i greater-than-sign

        …before the text to be in italics, and:

        less-than-sign /i greater-than-sign

        …after the text. No spaces between the signs and the “i” or “/i”.

        I.e., Book Name with no spaces between the characters within the brackets and the brackets themselves.

        (I just used bold type to make the instructions stand out from all the rest of my logorrhea. In practice, just use regular type. Unless you want bold, in which case substitute “b” for “i” in the relevant places. 🙂 )

        Feel free to practice here.

        And that sounds like a good book.

        (Afraid to post this in case even my attempts at great simplification–no offense, Claudia–come through all garbled.)

        • Diane G.
          Posted December 10, 2016 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

          And of course, I screwed up at least once.

        • Diane G.
          Posted December 10, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

          Dermot, I hope you’re reading this. 😉

          • Claudia Baker
            Posted December 10, 2016 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

            Thanks Diane! I’ll give it a try next time I say something about a book I’ve read. Just not tonight; too tired to think straight…

            As a Master’s student in English Lit, I had it drilled into my head: italics or underline ONLY. Nothing else was acceptable. I’m afraid I passed that on to my high school students when I became a teacher.

            But I appreciate that it is OK here to use whatever.

            Your help is very much accepted and appreciated!

            • Diane G.
              Posted December 15, 2016 at 12:19 am | Permalink

              And I was taught the same way, of course. 😉 Who knew doing so was eventually going to require learning some html?! IMO, quotes are a fine substitute–the meaning is obvious.

              Of course, the majority of the users here are quite proficient in all things computer…for the most part, though, they make allowances for those of us who have better things to do…er, I mean…


              (Actually, they’re mostly quite helpful!)

  9. Posted December 10, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Interesting facts about the vote on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. From it, it seems that being against human rights makes a state unstable: there is almost 40% chance that it will disintegrate in the foreseeable future. Watch out, Saudi Arabia!

  10. Steffen Toxopeus
    Posted December 10, 2016 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    1948 was the year the National Party of D.F. Malan came to power in South Africa and Apartheid became the law of the land for the next 46 years. No wonder they voted against the UN declaration.

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