Monday: Hili dialogue

Well, here we are: another week older and deeper in debt. It’s Monday, February 6, 2017: “National Chopstix Day” in the U.S. They’re not even a food, and they’re spelled wrong, too. And, as always on this date, it’s the UN-sponsored “International day for zero tolerance to female genital mutilation.” (Note that neither the word “Islam” nor “Muslim” are mentioned in the Wikipedia article.)

On this day in 1819, Singapore was founded by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. In 1918, British women over 30 gained the right to vote—but why 30 instead of, say, 21? On February 6, 1952, Elizabeth II became the Queen of England, which means that today she’s reigned exactly 65 years. Wikipedia reports that on this day in 1989, “The Round Table Talks start in Poland, thus marking the beginning of the overthrow of communism in Eastern Europe.”

Notables born on this day include Aaron Burr (1756), J. E. B. Stuart (1833, died in battle 1864), Babe Ruth (1895), Ronald Reagan (1911), Eva Braun (1912), Zsa Zsa Gabor (1917, died recently), François Truffaut (1932), Bob Marley (1945), and Rick(roll) Astley (1966). Those who died on this day include Gustav Klimt (1918), Danny Thomas (1991), and Arthur Ashe (1993). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili, neurotic about her noms, is ordering Andrzej—who is just recovering from a bad virus—to procure more food:

Hili: Now we are going in and you have to go to the grocery store.
A: Why?
Hili: The refrigerator is empty.
In Polish:
Hili: A teraz my wracamy do domu , a ty musisz iść do sklepu.
Ja: Dlaczego?
Hili: Lodówka jest pusta.

Out in icy Winnipeg, Gus is passing the time by getting baked:

Please Sir, can I have some more catnip?

And reader Su sent a gif in which a cat fights the stream of air from a hair dryer:



  1. Dominic
    Posted February 6, 2017 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    Happy Monday!

  2. Frank Bath
    Posted February 6, 2017 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    I liked the opening reference to ‘Sixteen Tons’.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted February 6, 2017 at 6:57 am | Permalink

      Yes, but do we owe our soul to the company store?

      • rickflick
        Posted February 6, 2017 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        Bless your little pea pickin’ heart.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted February 6, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        I just bet we’re going to see that one coming back before long.
        Scrip for your thoughts?

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 6, 2017 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Six-five years is such a long time to do anything. I suppose it seems even longer to Charles, eh.

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted February 6, 2017 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Women probably had to be over 30 because of their feeble, child-like minds. Ugh. To thing how bad it was not so long ago. I still remember being dismissed at computer stores in my 20s and how my mother was always condescended when getting the car fixed or talking to a guy at Radio Shack.

    • Christopher
      Posted February 6, 2017 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      I turn 40 later this month. I’m still waiting for the time when I no longer have a feeble, childlike mind. (Doubt I’m not the only guy this could be said about)

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted February 6, 2017 at 7:52 am | Permalink

        From someone who is roughly 27 years beyond you in age, that feeble, childlike mind will likely return.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted February 6, 2017 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      Women probably had to be over 30 because of their feeble, child-like minds.

      At least in some parts of the UK – maybe all, I don’t know – there was also a property requirement for at least some people, which would have made it necessary for voting to be after the age of 21.
      I’m not defending these stupidities – but there were probably some sort of rational grounds for coming up with that number as opposed to SQRT(1000) or the number of “superb owl” a gravelinspector sees before getting the joke.

  5. John Crisp
    Posted February 6, 2017 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Jerry, I don’t want to disculpate any country, religious group or ethnicity that practices FGM, or to disculpate Wikipedia for that matter. Moreover, I don’t know what the religious breakdown is between all the countries listed on the graphs in the article. However, in the North of Ethiopia where I live, which is majority Ethiopian Orthodox Christian and very, very pious, FGM is widely practiced by Christians, although technically illegal. I would imagine that the same is true in Eritrea, which shares a culture, religion, language, and deep mutual enmity, with the Ethiopian state of Tigray, though Italian Catholicism is a stronger force In Eritrea, which might have mitigated the practice somewhat.

    So FGM would seem to be practiced to varying degrees across Africa, rather than across Islam. Africa is also home to some of the most gruesome forms of male circumcision (a distinction it shares with indigenous Australia), which result in death, disease, and impotence for very large numbers of young men. I leave it to you and your readers to look up the details of both practices, which do not make easy reading.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 6, 2017 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      There’s no doubt that FGM is practiced by multiple religions.

      The problem with Islam is that in the regions where both FGM and Islam coincide, FGM has become a part of Islam. Women are often required to do it to be a good Muslim. In parts of Indonesia, for example, girls are cut annually as part of the celebration of Muhammad’s birthday.

      In Christian areas, it’s not a religious requirement and women don’t do it to show devotion to Jesus. It’s a cultural hangover.

      Thus, when health workers go into Christian (or traditional religions) villages, they are usually able to get the head men on side by explaining the health benefits etc. As stopping FGM is not a threat to the religion.

      In Muslim villages, this is not the case. Often the local imam will insist FGM is a religious requirement. In truth, it is not in the Qur’an, but some imams say it is part of a woman’s requirement to be modest.

      The practice has even spread as far as the Muslim regions of Russia. A recent report found it is a common requirement in the Caucuses.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted February 6, 2017 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        A recent report found it is a common requirement in the Caucuses.

        Ohhh, if that is supported and gets found out by the average Russian woman on the street … “there will be blood,” and it will be male blood.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted February 6, 2017 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

          It caused quite a furore in Russia, especially when the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church spoke out in support of the senior imam in Russia, who made all sorts of anti-women comments. He said things like “FGM is needed to stop women being wanton” or something similar, and the Orthodox guy stuck up for him when he was attacked.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted February 6, 2017 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, well that’s what you expect of the religious.

      • John Crisp
        Posted February 7, 2017 at 5:30 am | Permalink

        Heather, thank you for that very interesting contribution. If I am to be honest, I do not know what the current prevalence of FGM is amongst Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. And it’s not an easy question to ask one’s female friends. Most of my information comes from a gynecologist friend, who tells me that she encounters it less among young city girls, but that it is still widespread in the countryside (which accounts for about 75% of the population). Snce most people in the cities are one generation from their rural roots, I guess that most women above a certain age will have been cut.

        BTW, here is an interesting article recently brought to my attention:

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted February 7, 2017 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

          Thanks for the article. Very interesting. Iirc, Ethiopia is a country with a very high prevalence of FGM, but progress has been made in recent years in stopping it. The UN and WHO websites have good information on various countries. They’re mostly the ones running the programmes to stop it.

  6. Christopher
    Posted February 6, 2017 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey, of Laetoli footprints fame, was also born on this date in 1913.

  7. veroxitatis
    Posted February 6, 2017 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Professor Coyne, I apologise for being somewhat picky. In my defence may I say that I am a Scot and most Scots are a little picky in certain connections!
    Her Majesty is Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and Queen of 15 other independent countries. She is not Queen of England. That title ceased as of 1707. The last Queen of England was Queen Anne who was simultaneously up to that date also Queen of Scots. The Union of the Crowns in 1603 placed the thrones of the two countries under one monarch but did not amalgamate the Kingdoms. In the unlikely event of Scotland again becoming independent, the monarch would be King or Queen of Scots and King or Queen of England or such other title as the Westminster Parliament may bestow in recognition of that monarch’s rule over the remaining parts of what was hitherto the UK.

    • David Coxill
      Posted February 6, 2017 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      Hi ,is it true that she is known as Elizabeth the first in Scotland ? because when Elizabeth Tudor was queen Scotland was a independent country .

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted February 6, 2017 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        I’ve never heard “Elizabeth The First” in the wild. “Brenda”, OTOH is in reasonably common use, thanks to Private Eye.

        • veroxitatis
          Posted February 6, 2017 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

          “Brenda” wasn’t that Richards name for Jagger?

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted February 6, 2017 at 4:37 pm | Permalink


            • veroxitatis
              Posted February 6, 2017 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

              Keith Richards name for the “needy bitchy” Mick in his (Richards’) autobiography, “Life”.

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted February 7, 2017 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

                [Straight bat.]

      • veroxitatis
        Posted February 6, 2017 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

        No, and I don’t think it has ever been a truly live issue for most Scots.
        However, John MacCormick, then Rector of Glasgow University and Ian Hamilton, a student there and member of the University Scottish Nationalist Association brought an action against the Crown in 1953 claiming that it was a breach of the provisions of the Treaty of Union 1707 for Her Majesty to style herself Elizabeth II. The case was dismissed at first instance but on appeal before the Inner House of the Court of Session the Lord President (Cooper of Culross) and two other Senators of the College of Justice determined that it came within the powers of the Royal Prerogative for the monarch to call herself as she wished.

        Hamilton is an interesting character. On Christmas Eve 1950, he and two others clandestinely removed the Stone of Destiny from its place beneath the Coronation Chair at Westminster Abbey and transported it back to Scotland where it was lay hidden until given up some 16 months later. This was the Stone which had been stolen from Scotland in 1296 by Edward I, King of England. In 1996, it was returned to Scotland and is now lodged in Edinburgh Castle.
        MacCormick was a lawyer. One of his sons, also a lawyer (Sir Donald Neil MacCormick) became a well respected regius Professor of Public Law and the Law of Nations at Edinburgh University.

  8. Posted February 6, 2017 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    The cat with the hair dryer is great!

    • David Coxill
      Posted February 6, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      My 4 cats would not stay in the same room with anything as noisy as that.

  9. Gareth Price
    Posted February 6, 2017 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    I was puzzled to read that Queen Elizabeth came to he throne on this day in 1952. When I was a child, I had bicycle combination lock with the number 2653 and my parents pointed out that this was the coronation date. Had I really misremembered the combination? However the mystery was solved after checking Wikipedia. Elizabeth became queen on this day in 1952 (which in the US month/day/year style) is 2652. But she was crowned on June 2nd, 1953 which in the UK day/month/year style is 2653. I grew up in the UK but now live in the US – hence the source of my confusion!

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 6, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      Why does the US have to screw up the dates like that? It’s very confusing for the rest of us, especially as sometimes they do it properly and you can never rely on the same method.

      There’s a bit of a sick joke around it:

      Why are they always going on about the terror attack on 9/11? What happened then? Surely the worst attacks were on 11 September!

      • David Coxill
        Posted February 6, 2017 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

        The attacks on 9th September 2001 were part of a plot to get the world to use the American method of using dates.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted February 6, 2017 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

        I learned dates the US way and though it makes more logical sense to do it small to large: dd/mm/yyyy the US way is the way we speak: Sept 11, 2001 (mm/dd/yyyy). To make myself clear, I always write it out: Sept 11, 2001 etc.

        I remember when we were taught this way in school: 09-11-2001 and my dad laughed that we wrote dates like a computer.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted February 6, 2017 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

          We speak the other way as well – today is the 7th of February (here at least), or just 7 February, not February 7th.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted February 6, 2017 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

          though it makes more logical sense to do it small to large:

          You’ve never had to deal with reports whose name is stereotyped to include the report date, have you?
          It’s not a new argument. You might note that the use by astronomers of the Julian Day dates back to 1849 when the only computers were human.
          Do you have a good reason for using a representation of date which means that date order (per representation), numerical order and alphabetical order (sense ASCII, for languages capable of representation in ASCII, otherwise UNICODE) are not the same?

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted February 6, 2017 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

            Yes I’ve had to deal with all that especially when programming triggers based on date.

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted February 7, 2017 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

              [passes large sheet of masonry]
              I’ve beaten some of the lumps off with my forehead. Enjoy!

      • Gareth Price
        Posted February 6, 2017 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        Yes, it’s confusing. When I first moved here I would often be asked for my date of birth. I would give it wrongly and my record wouldn’t appear. After a while I would correct myself mid-sentence which just sounded suspicious. Now I’ve been here long enough to have adopted the American way but it will start all over again if I ever move back home!

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