Friday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

Good morning! It’s Friday, February 3 (2017 if you haven’t yet caught on), and we’ve made it through another week, though we’re all a week closer to death.  The good news is that it’s National Carrot Cake day, and a nicer cake is hard to imagine, especially when this one contains plump raisins and is slathered thickly with cream cheese frosting. In Japan today, it’s Setsubun, a festival celebrating the onset of Spring. Roasted soybeans are eaten and thrown to ward off ogres.

On this day in 1690, the colony of Massachusetts issued the first paper money in America. And, in 1959, this was The Day the Music Died, as rock musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson were killed in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa. I remember the announcement, though I was only 9 years old.  On February 3, 1971, Frank Serpico was shot during a drug bust in New York City, an incident portrayed (along with his subsequent testimony against corruption) in the eponymous movie. Here he is, looking only a wee bit like Al Pacino, who played his character.


The real Frank Serpico

Notables born on this day include Felix Mendelssohn (1809), Gertrude Stein (1874), Norman Rockwell (1894), Blythe Danner (1943, mother of the odious Gwyneth) and Morgan Fairchild (1950). Those who died on this day include Woodrow Wilson (1924), the Big Bopper, Buddy Holly, and Ritchie Valens (see above) and evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr (2005, one of my mentors, who lived to be 100; I wrote an obituary for him here), Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is commenting on a piece she read–one by Steve Novella at NeuroLogica about skepticism:

Hili: Skepticism induces one to ask questions.
A: What questions?
Hili: How much truth is in what we hear.
In Polish:
Hili: Sceptycyzm skłania do stawiania pytań.
Ja: Jakich pytań?
Hili: Ile jest prawdy w tym co słyszymy.

And in the snowy mountains of southern Poland, Leon, on a hiking vacation, is carefully watching his staff:

Leon: Beware, under video surveillance!


Reader Jerry (not I!) sent a picture of his cat, a female named Bombadil. The caption: “She loves to play tag and attack my ankles. She just doesn’t understand why she can’t have sukiyaki….”


Finally, a logo for your use, courtesy of reader Heather:



  1. Graham Head
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Are cats atheists? They clearly believe in living gods. Themselves…

    • Frank Bath
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      Yes, solipsists all.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    I also vaguely remember the plane crash and the loss, although only a couple of months from 9 years old. Probably because it was big news in Iowa.

    Were my cats atheists first or was it I? Me since I am much older.

  3. rickflick
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Buddy Holly. Everyday:

  4. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Apologies if this is against the rules, but I have to get this out of my system:

    I think WEIT readers would be very interested to hear Ricky Gervais have a micro debate with Stephen Colbert about – take a wild guess:

    … frankly, I think it was excellent, Gervais was on his toes, nailing the big arguments, and Colbert asked challenging questions.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Thanks for that. Really good stuff. Gervais killed it as he always does.

    • Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      I actually scheduled a post on that, and it’ll be up very shortly.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted February 3, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

        Sorry PCC(E) – couldn’t help it.

        Looking forward to your take.

  5. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    a nicer cake is hard to imagine

    I can imagine one: just leave out the carrots.

    Not that I have anything against carrots, which are fine in salads, soups, and stews. But in cake they’re superfluous, adding nothing but virtue signaling.

    I venture to guess that if you make a carrot cake sans carrots and serve it to people without identifying it, most won’t notice the difference, and a few might say “Wow, great carrot cake! What’s your secret?”

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      @Gregory The carrots in carrot cake are indeed almost superfluous from a taste POV, but they do help to ‘up’ the moisture content

      Fairly irrelevant historical note: It’s possible carrot cake means more to us Brits due to WWII rationing which remained in effect until 1954 – carrot was a useful sweetener back then.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      Carrot cake is delicious. I wouldn’t eat it for a long time because I assumed it would be horrible and it was just virtue signalling to have carrot in cake. People who eat things just because they’re good for them and pretend they like them even though they’re revolting irritate me no end. But carrot cake is wonderful!

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted February 3, 2017 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        I’ve had wonderful carrot cake and I’ve had mediocre carrot cake. But in either case, I submit, it wasn’t the carrots that made it wonderful or mediocre. (See Jerry’s remark about frosting.)

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted February 4, 2017 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

          We call it icing and yes, cream cheese icing is delicious!

  6. jaxkayaker
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    The logo at the bottom would make a good bumper sticker.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      iirc, I originally got the image from a sticker.

      (I’ve had it in my picture collection for a long time and I can’t remember where I got it now. I think an ad for stickers, or maybe a t-shirt, of the same on Twitter though.)

  7. David Coxill
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Hili looks a bit miffed today.
    Took one of my cats to the vet yesterday .
    Since Dec he has something on the side of mouth ,it was not responding to the meds .
    The vet shaved a bit of fur off his front leg to take a blood test ,didn’t find anything .
    Had to take him in again this morning for a Biopsy because it was in his mouth as well .They shaved another bit of fur off for the sleepy juice .
    He looks like he is wearing ripped jeans.
    I am a bit worried that it might be fatal .
    Only had him and his brother since last Sept.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      Sure hope it’s curable.

      • David Coxill
        Posted February 4, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        Thanks ,i haven’t had a cat since the 80s ,and the main reason is that the pain is too much to handle when they pass on.

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink


  8. Don Mackay
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    You note that E.Mayr was you mentor. Lucky you! He was mine too, though more humbly via his book ‘Animal Species and Evolution’ pub. 1966. I bought it in 1967 for NZ$13.28, a lot of money then, and read it cover to cover.

    Evolution was not a significant part of my Zoo course at Auckland Uni. then, and I took it on as a challenge. What a treat and such a mine of wisdom and sound judgement. It should be compulsory reading for any student of evolution, especially the first chapter on the perils of typological thinking in Biology.

    Has anyone written a biography of the great man?

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