Friday, Hili dialogue

When you read this on the morning of January 13, I’ll be waiting at Midway Airport for my flight to LAX (yes, Friday the 13th). As a food holiday, it’s a double: National Gluten-Free Day and National Peach Melba Day. Fortunately, I don’t think Peach Melba (named after the singer Nellie Melba) has gluten, so you can observe both days at once. But did you know that she also gave her name to Melba toast? It’s also “Stephen Foster Day” in the US, named after the songwriter who died on this day in 1864.

On this day in 1898, Émile Zola wrote a piece for the paper L’Aurore called “J’accuse…! arguing that the French officer Alfred Dreyfus had been unjustly accused and convicted of treason, and that anti-Semitism was partly responsible (Dreyfus was Jewish). The famous article had some role in Dreyfus’s subsequent pardoning and then the annulment of his verdict. Here’s the article, which has become a synonym for speaking truth to power (it was addressed to the President of France):


On this day in 1910, the first public radio broadcast took place: a performance of Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. And, in 1968, Johnny Cash performed his famous concert for the inmates of Folsom State Prison, which is still in operation.

Notables born on this day include Horatio Alger, Jr. (1832), Sophie Tucker (1887), Robert “Eliot Ness” Stack (1919), Paul Feyerabend (1924), and the French cartoonist Cabu (1938, died in the attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in 2015). Those who died on this day include Wyatt Earp (1929), James Joyce (1941 ♥), Lyonel Feininger (1956, one of my favorite painters), Ernie Kovacs (1962), and Hubert Humphrey (1978). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is having a good laugh at humans.

A: Homo sapiens sapiens.
Hili: It amuses me too.
In Polish:
A: Homo sapiens sapiens.
Hili: Też mnie to śmieszy.
Out in the barren tundras of Winnipeg, Gus, too, has a secret smile:

And, courtesy of reader Michael, enjoy “Snow day at the Oregon Zoo”, put up two days ago. I don’t know how on Earth an Indian elephant can tolerate that stuff!


  1. dabertini
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Love Emilio Zola!!

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Some really good cat photos today. The animals in the snow seem to get the illusion of freedom.

  3. James Walker
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Nice to know that about Ms Melba – I didn’t realize that she was Australian and that her name is actually a pseudonym derived from her home town of Melbourne (where I’ll be moving to in May).

  4. E.A. Blair
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Also on this day – in 1787, Austria repealed its witchcraft laws and in 1969, King Crimson began rehearsals.

    • Mark R.
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      Yeah! 20th Century Schizoid Man! Fripp is one of my heroes…not to mention many other notables who have played in the band.

  5. Mike
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    The Polar Bears and Seals get obvious pleasure from the Snow,so it seems do the Elephants,which is a surprise.

    • Dominic
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      I would guess that they find it pleasant to radiate heat having less surface area being bulky. They are not so far from mammoths after all…
      I find that I cannot sleep as comfortably when the room is over 61F/16C & even though it was snowing in London yesterday & today, I am still coatless. In fact I was sweating after walking in to work!

  6. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    One of the best ever non-canonical Sherlock Holmes novels is about the Dreyfus case: “Prisoner of the Devil” by Michael Hardwick (1985). It suggests AD was framed by the French to prevent discovery of a double agent working for the Germans. (When Holmes discovers this, he is powerless to reveal it.)

    • bric
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      A nice coincidence here is that Conan Doyle lived in South Norwood (1894-95), and Zola in exile after the j’accuse affair stayed at the Queen’s Hotel in South Norwood in 1898-99

  7. Roger Scott
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Zola died of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by an improperly ventilated chimney.
    Many people have met a similar fate. This extreme affinity of hemoglobin for the CO molecule is doubtless a quirk of evolution. If it is due to a god, that god is malevolent indeed,

  8. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted January 14, 2017 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Zola died of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by an improperly ventilated chimney.
    Many people have met a similar fate.

    Yep, came closer than desired to that one ourselves, using a portable gas heater in the flat one winter. It took several days before I clocked onto why everyone in the flat was suffering from stinking headaches and laying around instead of going to the pub like sensible slobs.
    So we did that instead of running the heater. Simples!

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