Wednesday: Hili dialogue

Good morning! Ii’s Wednesday, crassly known as “hump day”, January 18, 2017. It’s Gourmet Coffee Day (that does not mean double caramel macchiato lattes with whipped cream), Peking Duck Day, and also the first day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.  I doubt anyone reading this will be praying for such a thing—or praying period. And we have only two more days of Barack Obama as President. I will not mention what will happen then. I will mention this report from CNN:

President Barack Obama will leave office Friday with his highest approval rating since 2009, his presidency largely viewed as a success, and a majority saying they will miss him when he is gone.

A new CNN/ORC poll finds Obama’s approval rating stands at 60%, his best mark since June of his first year in office. Compared with other outgoing presidents, Obama lands near the top of the list, outranked only by Bill Clinton’s 66% in January 2001 and Ronald Reagan’s 64% in January 1989. About two-thirds (65%) say Obama’s presidency was a success, including about half (49%) who say that was due to Obama’s personal strengths rather than circumstances outside his control.

On this day in 1535, Francisco Pizarro founded the city of Lima, Peru. In 1884, Wikipedia recounts a bizarre event on this day:  “Dr. William Price attempts to cremate the body of his infant son, Jesus Christ Price, setting a legal precedent for cremation in the United Kingdom.” Jesus Christ Price? In 1943, the first uprising of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto began, and, in 1967, the Boston Strangler was convicted. Finally, on this day in 1993, Martin Luther King Day was first celebrated in all 50 of America’s States. (I well remember the opposition to that holiday in the South—nothing to do with race, of course.)

Notables born on this day include physicist Paul Ehrenfest (1880), who made big contributions to quantum mechanics and then, afflicted with depression, shot both his son and himself in 1933. A. A. Milne was born on this day in 1882, Jacob Bronowski in 1908, Danny Kaye in 1911, and David Ruffin, lead singer of the Temptations, in 1941 (he died of drug use at age 50). Those who died on this day include Rudyard Kipling (1936), Curly Howard of the Three Stooges (1952), and Glenn Frey (2016). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili, contemplating identity politics, is not having any of it, despite being an oppressed member of another species, and a female as well:

A: What are you thinking about?
Hili: About identity.
A: And?
Hili: I won’t let anybody hoodwink me. I’m me.
In Polish:
Ja: Nad czym myślisz?
Hili: Nad tożsamością.
Ja: I co?
Hili: Nie dam się wrobić, jestem sobą.
Out in frigid Winnipeg, Gus is having a nap on his Katzenbaum.



And lagniappe: a tw**t found by Grania showing a miscalculating cat:


  1. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 18, 2017 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    ‘… attempts to cremate…’ What went wrong? Was Jesus Christ not sufficiently inflammable?

    Truly, bizarre.


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 18, 2017 at 6:49 am | Permalink

      Oh, apparently William Price was a Druid and Wikipedia has a lovely picture of him –


  2. Posted January 18, 2017 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    ‘Jesus Christ Price?’ About 30 talents, wasn’t it?

    Cremation, as practised in the UK, seems an incredibly wasteful process from an ecological perspective. You buy a decent piece of wood, put your loved one in it, and burn it after barely any use at all. And at the cost of £3,900, a lot of money.

    It made me think that these eco-friendly burials would be a better alternative, but I am told that they are even dearer. I am not sure what you would bury the body in, but whatever it is I can’t see how it would cost more than a rather nice piece of oak. These pagan burials sound as if they might be a bit of a racket. Unless of course you devise the rite yourself.

    I actually would be interested to find out other persons’ experiences.

    • Christopher
      Posted January 18, 2017 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      Regular burials are a racket as well though, aren’t they? Both there in the UK and over here in ‘Merica. But instead of burning the body and the nice bit of wood, we have to dress the corpse up in nice clothes after pumping it full of chemicals, stuff it into a very ornate wood box with satin linings and brass fittings, only to drop that into a concrete crypt and set a marble headstone above it. Like you, I’d rather go with as little fuss and waste as possible, and as much ecological benefit as legally possible. I do wish I could donate my body to the benthic organisms of the deep, get tossed into the ocean and consumed by osedax worms, crabs, and the like.

      • Posted January 18, 2017 at 7:55 am | Permalink

        That would be the Osama Bin Laden Funeral Plan, sir.

      • eric
        Posted January 18, 2017 at 7:56 am | Permalink

        Yeah the funeral industry seems to be a bit like a toll booth, ironically; they won’t let you pass without paying.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted January 18, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

        I’d like a sky burial sans religious trappings. Just put my carcass on a platform in the mountains and let the vultures go for it. What’s the cost of a few old boards? Benthic burial would be fine, too. High or low, let the scavengers scavenge. That’s nature.

        • Christopher
          Posted January 18, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

          Thus my favorite quote :
          “Buzzards gotta eat, same as worms.”

          -The Outlaw Josie Wales

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted January 20, 2017 at 7:06 am | Permalink

          I’d like a sky burial sans religious trappings. Just put my carcass on a platform in the mountains and let the vultures go for it.

          You need the landowner’s permission. And probably at least some sort of notice to the local law enforcement, so that when someone has a “Yorick” moment in a century, they have records they can check to ascertain if “Yorick” is Jenny or Jimmy (Hoffa). Hopefully without the current ~$1000 cost of a C-14 dating test.
          Incidentally, who is going to carry the corpse miles out into the mountains for your sky burial? No-one, that’s who (read your “manual handling” rules for any employment). So your sky burial is going to be within a literal stone’s throw of a driveable trail. No reputable business would promise you anything else, as they have a duty of care to their employees. You’re unlikely to get anyone to even plan it (e.g. start the procedures with the local law) with you providing the body carriers, again because they have a duty of care.
          You might be able to do it with a horse dragging ex-Jenny on a travois. Then you just have the problem of getting any mourners to the site. And preventing others doing the same. There might not be much market for Jenny’s body parts, but Arnold Schwartznegger’s baculum is likely to attract a good price on eBay. (eBay exceeded my expectations – apparently there is a market for raccoon baculums (baculii?) for use as toothpicks. That is … a new level of bizarre.)

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 20, 2017 at 4:48 pm | Permalink


            Of course, given the hire rates for those things, a conventional burial would probably be cheaper…


            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted January 20, 2017 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

              Well, for £2k, you could probably get several hours of freight helicopter hire – which would cover access to pretty much any ground location in Europe excepting small areas of Scandinavia.
              But you might need to book several months in advance.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 20, 2017 at 6:46 am | Permalink

        only to drop that into a concrete crypt

        What? Aren’t American worms allowed to eat Americans?

        I do wish I could donate my body to the benthic organisms of the deep, get tossed into the ocean and consumed by osedax worms, crabs, and the like.

        That is certainly possible in England. I’m not so sure about Scotland or Northern Ireland. I think that you need to use a decomposition-resistant bag and some form of “sinker” to make sure your nibbled remains don’t wash up on the beach, and also to avoid confusion between your mortal remains and those of Joe Random Seafarer washed off a boat.
        The biggest problem for “eco-burials” is that you need to have some provisions to prevent the land from going back into domestic or industrial use in less than a couple of hundred years. And you wouldn’t want the local axe-murderer to have a place where he can conveniently dispose of meat where human bones would not arouse surprise. So I guess there are requirements for a tamper-evident and decomposition resistant bag there too, but I don’t know how they achieve that.
        Finding human remains while doing archaeology can be a bit of a pain – you need to inform the PF, wait for the PF’s minions to agree that the remains are archaeological and not recent enough to be some modern crime. Finding suspiciously human bones when digging the back garden – or a new housing development – can be even more of a PITA, because your average developer doesn’t know the procedures.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted January 18, 2017 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      MY late wife’s choice was a wicker coffin (~£90)and cremation at the local crematorium. total cost under £2000 including undertaker’s bill and the “bun fight” afterwards. This was covered by the UK government “Bereavement Payment”.

      • Posted January 18, 2017 at 8:47 am | Permalink

        Are you up in Scotland, Haggis? My late brother-in-law’s cremation (coffin + trimmings) cost about £2,200 a couple of years ago up in Tain, north of Inverness. My price of £3,900 is for Shrewsbury now. But the 2 funerals are roughly comparable in terms of what we bought.

        So maybe Scotland, the far north, is much cheaper than England, I dunno.

        • HaggisForBrains
          Posted January 19, 2017 at 7:11 am | Permalink

          Dermot, the coffin was bought online by my wife, who had terminal cancer, and time to organise her own funeral. We were in Montrose at the time, and used the local undertaker. No limo, just the hearse. No frills. A family friend did the eulogy, after long chats with my wife. Before a short period of silent contemplation, it was announced that “Anyone caught praying would be asked to leave”!

          • GBJames
            Posted January 19, 2017 at 8:48 am | Permalink

            That quote is brilliant, HaggisForBrains! I just decided I want that on my gravestone after I leave the building.

    • Posted January 18, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Where I live, burial itself is not very expensive but there is no free land. My family has lived in the same city for a sufficiently long time, so we own graves, and newly deceased are buried over their older relatives. Seems ecological enough to me. If you haven’t a slot, you can be buried in a smaller town where they still have land, or you can be cremated. It is more expensive, but nobody expects death to be free. Old people often keep a sum for burial, so that not to burden the family with the expenses.

  3. Reggie Cormack
    Posted January 18, 2017 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    “Out in frigid Winnipeg, Gus is …..”

    In my part of the Scottish Highlands it’s a ridiculously warm, sunny and balmy 10 degrees. And I’m gardening … madness.

  4. GBJames
    Posted January 18, 2017 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    FWIW… I don’t think the phrase “hump day” should be considered “crass”. It simply refers to Wednesday being the middle of the week, the “hump” in time that now leads down to the relaxation of the weekend. It references the rhythm of the work week.

    Some folk think it refers to some other sort of rhythmic activity. But that is mistaken.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 18, 2017 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      “Some folk think it refers to some other sort of rhythmic activity. But that is mistaken.”

      Aww there you go again, shattering my dreams. First Nessie, now this…



  5. rickflick
    Posted January 18, 2017 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    The book on Hili’s desk looks like The Atheist Muslim – a Journey from Religion to Reason by Ali A Rizvi.

    “…non-believing Muslims to face the heavy costs of abandoning their parents’ religion: disowned by their families, marginalized from their communities, imprisoned, or even sentenced to death by their governments”.

    It sounds interesting. Has anyone here read it? The only user review on Google books is unfavorable.

  6. Raymond van Es
    Posted January 18, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Paul Ehrenfest lived in my hometown Leiden. He was a good friend of Albert Einstein. Ehrenfest lived in a house that was designed bij his wife Tatjana Afsnasjeva. The house is still there at the Witte Rozenstraat.

  7. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted January 18, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    The Three Stooges’ Curly (real name Jerome Lester Horwitz) had far more creative control over his own character than the other two, Moe and Larry, who were largely playing characters created by Ted Healy.

    His bark, “I’m a victim of soicumstance”, and Woo, woo, woo!”, etc. were all his creations.

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