Tuesday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on a balmy February 14 in Chicago: Valentine’s Day! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ I hope you sent a nice treat to your loved one(s).  Meanwhile, a Pakistani court has banned Valentine’s Day in the whole country, declaring that it’s “against the teachings of Islam” (what: they don’t like love?),  and the flower-sellers are deeply upset.  So be it.  Appropriately, today’s food holiday is National Cream-Filled Chocolates Day (I prefer what I got–giant fresh strawberries dipped in rich, dark chocolate). But it’s also “V-Day,” a day to mark and decry violence against women and girls. (Since it was started by Eve Ensler, the “V” stands for “Victory, Valentine, and Vagina.”)

On this day in 1502, during the Spanish Inquisition, the Catholic Monarchs ordered Muslims in Granada to convert to Catholicism or leave Spain. That’s a reminder that, in the past, Catholics were as intolerant of infidels as some Muslims are now. Exactly 54 years later, the Church declared Thomas Cranmer a heretic for separating the English church from Catholicism (and translating Scripture into English), and he was executed.  In 1859, Oregon became a state, and Arizona followed on this day in 1912. In 1929, the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre occurred in Chicago, with seven rivals of Al Capone gunned down in a garage. On February 14, 1945, the fire-bombing of Dresden by the Allies began, and in 1956, Khrushcheve condemned Stalin in a secret speech—one of the first public criticisms of the former tyrant. In 1990, the Voyager I spacecraft took the famous “pale blue dot” photograph and, finally, on this day in 2005, YouTube was launched, making free kitten videos available to all.

Here’s the “pale blue dot” photo (you can see it as a light speck in the vertical brown band to the right); and let us remember what Carl Sagan said about it in a speech at Cornell University:

We succeeded in taking that picture, and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there – on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

[…] To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.


Notables born on this day include John Barrymore (1882), Jack Benny (1894), Gregory Hines (1946), the magician Teller (1948), and Renée Fleming (1959). Those who died on Valentine’s Day include James Cook (1779, stabbed to death by Hawaiians at age 50), David Hilbert (1943), Julian Huxley and P. G. Wodehouse (both 1975), James Bond (the ornithologist whose name was used by Ian Fleming, 1989), John Ehrlichmann (1999), and jazz pianist George Shearing (whom Jack Kerouac called “The Great God Shearing”, 2011). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili, housebound, needs pepping up:

Hili: I have too little energy.
A: You might need some vitamins.
 In Polish:
Hili: Mam za mało energii.
Ja: Może potrzebujesz witamin.
Here’s a graph of today’s political spectrum among American college students:


And out in Winnipeg, which is experiencing a temporary warm spell, Gus is playing with a toy. His staff, Taskin, says this:

I wanted to try some action shots. It’s not easy to shoot the toy and shoot the camera at the same time. The first two go together and I think I’ve sent ones like this before. I really like his pose in the last one: very elegant lines.





  1. Posted February 14, 2017 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Blimey, no love in Pakistan, Khomeini says there are no jokes in Islam: pretty soon breathing is gonna be haram.

    • somer
      Posted February 14, 2017 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

      Professor Brown said Islamic arranged marriage and clear Shariah relationship dictates are much more realistic and meaningful than the notions of romance in the west.

      And dear Salafist Sheik Haaji al Munijaad on his Islam Q&A site says “love is a disease of the heart”.

  2. Blue
    Posted February 14, 2017 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Every time that I see a Gus – deal, I am soooo, so very grateful that: … … he found, er, hired you, Taskin, to be his staff worker.

    This sequence is darling.


    • Taskin
      Posted February 14, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      Gus sends you his very warm regards! 🙂

  3. rickflick
    Posted February 14, 2017 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    “Catholic Monarchs ordered Muslims in Granada to convert to Catholicism or leave Spain”

    I’m just now reading Susan Jacobi’s book, “Strange Gods” A secular history of conversion, which treats these Spanish events. Earlier, the Jews, Muslims, and Catholics managed to get along pretty well under Muslim rule (one point for Islam?). When Ferdinand and Isabella decided to dominate, they ordered the Jews to convert or leave. Thousands did convert, but were still under suspicion thereafter. Then the Muslims were in their sights. They attacked with military force. Boabdil, the last Muslim ruler had no choice but surrender if he wished to avoid the destruction of his people. Boabdil’s beloved Alhambra palace survives to this day as a Moorish splendor.
    Ferdinand and Isabella also requested and received permission from the Vatican to begin the inquisition to route out untrustworthy Conservos (Jewish converts) and Moriscos (Muslim converts).

    • rickflick
      Posted February 14, 2017 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      root out, not route out.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted February 14, 2017 at 8:01 am | Permalink

        Information from a latest history book I am reading – Before the American revolution, Catholics were persecuted in every colony. They could not vote, hold office anywhere, not even in Maryland, founded as a haven for Catholics. In Rhode Island, where even atheists had rights, not Catholics.

      • somer
        Posted February 14, 2017 at 9:30 am | Permalink

        Im not denying that the Spanish Inquisition was bloody and awful. But 800 years of Muslim occupation and periodic enslavement was much worse despite the (infidel facilitated art) and Maimonedes,despite his was essentially persecuted in Andalusia Spain

        • somer
          Posted February 14, 2017 at 9:33 am | Permalink

          The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise by DarioFernandez-Morera and Bertrand Russell= History of Western Philosophy

          • rickflick
            Posted February 14, 2017 at 11:27 am | Permalink

            Sounds like more research is needed.

    • Rasmo carenna
      Posted February 14, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      Well, as a Spaniard with Andalusian roots, I have heard this story of Jews, Muslims and Catholics ‘managing to get along pretty well under Muslim rule’ many times. I don’t consider myself an expert and don’t want to antagonize you or anybody but I have always suspected that rosy picture is mostly a myth, although a very welcome one in times of political correctness.
      “The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise” by Dario Fernandez-Morera is an interesting counterpoint.
      The Alhambra is indeed a beautiful place that I enjoy visiting when with my family in Granada.

      • rickflick
        Posted February 14, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        It may be a matter of emphasis. Jacobi was clear that the time was no bed of roses. The three religions just tolerated each other. The Muslim era was not easy for Jews, but certainly not as bad as under the King and Queen. Jacobi’s account made it appear that there was considerable documentation of the events so it should not be easy to fabricate events. On the other hand it’s clear there are those who would minimize the level of persecution for their own consciences. I don’t think Jacobi would be guilty of that.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted February 14, 2017 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

          Imo it’s not that things were wonderful in terms of tolerance under the Moors, it’s more that the Spanish Inquisition, in comparison, was significantly worse.

          • revelator60
            Posted February 14, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

            Yes, the big difference was that the Spaniards did not want Jews or Muslims in their country. The Moors (and the Ottomans who accepted the Spanish Jews) did not prohibit Christians or Jews but taxed them instead. Ferdinand and Isabella sacrificed revenue for moral purity.

    • revelator60
      Posted February 14, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      The inquisition drove thousands of Jews out of Spain, and they were welcomed into the Ottoman Empire by Sultan Bayezid II, whose motives were not only humanitarian but also commercial (he wanted merchants and tradesmen).

  4. Alpha Neil
    Posted February 14, 2017 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Sitting here among all my conservative neighbors I often feel like a pale blue dot on a pale blue dot.

  5. Posted February 14, 2017 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Thanks. I still get chills when I hear Carl Sagan’s voice:
    Here’s Philomena on T***p Apocalypse:

  6. bluemaas
    Posted February 14, 2017 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    IF one has not yet, may I please recommend that one attend any performance put on of Ms Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Vagina_Monologues. These begun by Ms Ensler and her brain’s creativity of http://www.eveensler.org are often held right around this time within Februarys.

    I have been to at least three (kinda lost count, I am thinking) over the years at various venues (usually, university towns’ performances); and they have all been excellent. And hilarious.


  7. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted February 14, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    I’ve seen Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” twice, both productions quite engaging.

    The first production I saw gave all the agonizing, painful bits to the two pretty young actresses (Daphne Zuniga and Naomi Campbell) and the risqué bits about sexual pleasure to the much older actress (Katherine Helmond)- a wise choice.

    The second production added a lot of excellent interpretive dance numbers between the monologues as well as featuring 7 actresses instead of 3. (This was staged the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.)

  8. Posted February 14, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Carl! I think his message is very appropriate for this supposed love-day.

  9. Larry Smith
    Posted February 14, 2017 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    This is probably too late for anyone to see it, but today (Feb 14, 2017) was the 50th anniversary of Aretha Franklin’s recording of “Respect.” Nice tribute here at NPR: http://www.npr.org/2017/02/14/515183747/respect-wasnt-a-feminist-anthem-until-aretha-franklin-made-it-one

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