Monday: Hili dialogue

Hooray, it’s Monday, May 29 (2017), and it’s not only a Memorial Day holiday in the U.S., but also National Biscuit Day! Now for you UK residents, be aware that the following photo shows what Americans call “biscuits”:

What Brits call biscuits are known in America as “cookies”. I love American biscuits, which, a staple of Southern cuisine, are one of America’s greatest contributions to world gastronomy. They are simple to make and best enjoyed with a breakfast of fried eggs, grits, and country ham with red-eye gravy (with homemade peach preserves on the side, as served in the Loveless Motel and Cafe near Nashville, Tennessee). Given that meal, it’s appropriate that today is also World Digestive Health Day.

On this day in 1660, the English Restoration began when Charles II became king of England, Scotland, and Ireland. On May 29, 1913, Stravinsky’s ballet for The Rite of Spring premiered in Paris, provoking a famous uproar in the theater. And exactly six years later, Arthur Eddington observed the bending of starlight during a total solar eclipse in the Atlantic, providing the first experimental evidence for Einstein’s general theory of relativity. It’s also a banner day for mountain aficionados like me, for it was on this day in 1953 that Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary became the first people to verifiably reach the summit of Mount Everest (Tenzing was on top first). Finally, on May 29, 1999, the Space Shuttle Discovery first docked with the International Space Station.

It’s a big day for birthdays: notables born on this day include Patrick Henry (1736), G. K. Chesterton (1874), Bob Hope (1903), Tenzing Norgay (1914; he summited on his birthday!), John F. Kennedy (1917; today is the 100th anniversary of his birth), Peter Higgs (1929), Paul R. Ehrlich (1932), Al Unser (1939), mountaineer Doug Scott (1941), and Melissa Etheridge (1961).  Those who died on May 29 include W. S. Gilbert (1911), John Barrymore (1942), Fanny Brice (1951), Moe Berg (1972), Mary Pickford (1979), Barry Goldwater (1998), Archibald Cox (2004), Dennis Hopper (2010), and Doc Watson (2012). Let’s hear a few licks from Doc—one of his best-known songs and some traditional American blues:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili asserts her hubris and hegemony:

Hili: We cats have a general principle.
A: What principle is that?
Hili: That we establish all principles.
In Polish:
Hili: My, koty, mamy generalną zasadę.
Ja: Jaką?
Hili: Że to my ustalamy zasady.

Some good news: Official Website Physicist™ Sean M. Carroll and his wife Jennifer Oullette appear to have adopted the two kittens that “showed up” at their home. The words “apparently adopted” are a bit strange, though! (h/t Jiten):

And in London, the black cat Theo, staffed by Laurie and Gethyn, is drinking his morning coffee. Yes, he likes it black—no sugar, no cream, and he prefers espresso.

Finally, a cat tw**t found by Grania. Are these Abyssinians??


  1. philfinn7
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Chesterton, with a ‘t’, Jerry.

  2. somer
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    I’d call those things in the picture “scones” 🍪? They used to be Australia’s favourite bake (apart from the dreaded lamingtons).

    • somer
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 6:57 am | Permalink

      they’re nice tho – and as part of the breakfast described sounds great to contemplate even for a veggie.

      • Linda Calhoun
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:23 am | Permalink

        The southern ones are made with lard.

        Ironic, at least for me, that it’s also “World Digestive Health Day”. If I eat anything with lard in it I’m sick for three days.

        They can, however, be made with butter or vegetable shortening, with pretty equal results, unless you’re a lardhead, at which point nothing else compares.


        • Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:32 am | Permalink

          I make mine with oil or sometimes butter; never lard!

          • dabertini
            Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:42 am | Permalink

            OIL! Oy! Do they flake up when made with oil? That is why I don’t find biscuits that easy to make. Cutting cold butter into flour is no mean feat.

            • darrelle
              Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:45 am | Permalink

              Try the food processor method. It is easy to master. A spray bottle is the best way to add the liquid when using this method.

              If making pie crust, a tablespoon of booze works good too. I like Apple Jack, one of George Washington’s favorites and still made by the distillery he drank it from.

              • dabertini
                Posted May 29, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

                Thanks. I do use a food processor for cutting in butter when making biscuits or pie crust. The spray bottle sounds like a good idea. I’ll have to try that.

          • Linda Calhoun
            Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:52 am | Permalink

            They use lard for piecrust, too. Gross.

            I use butter for pretty much everything that I bake.

            Generally a solid shortening with give flakier results than a liquid shortening. Oil works fine for angelfood cake, but for anything else, butter works better, and tastes better, too.


        • Randy schenck
          Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:34 am | Permalink

          The same could be said for popcorn. Many years ago I remember how good the popcorn was. The reason, we were popping it with crisco.

          • dabertini
            Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:48 am | Permalink

            Oil to make biscuits and now crisco to make popcorn. Too funny.

            • Linda Calhoun
              Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:54 am | Permalink

              You can get butter-flavored Crisco.

              But, for me, that violates Linda’s First Rule of Food, which is: Beware of anything that’s masquerading as something else.


              • dabertini
                Posted May 29, 2017 at 11:12 am | Permalink


  3. bric
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    I have an etymological question. Biscuit comes from French, literally ‘twice cooked’; these American ‘biscuits’ look like what we would call scones, which are cooked in one go. So how did the name get attached?

    • Posted May 29, 2017 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know, but I fear this is a “why do we park on a driveway and drive on a parkway?” questions! 🙂

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

        We don’t drive on a parkway, we drive on roads, and a driveway is for driving into the garage or carport, so imo USians are wrong again! (We don’t use the word parkway.)

        • Posted May 30, 2017 at 11:18 am | Permalink

          I don’t know if it is them (I’m Canadian) so I wonder what UK English (which one?) uses!

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted May 30, 2017 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

            I think they’re the same as us. Our English is very close to UK English, though we have our own phrases of course. Also some
            Maori words are used by everyone.

  4. Randy schenck
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    I know nothing about biscuits (baked dough) but lots of lovely cats today. Patrick Henry, also known as the mouth from the south. Very different from the current mouth from New York.

  5. thompjs
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    I have leftover biscuit from yesterday. Perfect.

    I should probably go to WhatABurger and get a couple of theirs. Surprisingly good for a fast food franchise. Crispy top yet not over cooked middle.

    PCC(E) Next time you are in Texas grab some

    • Randy schenck
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:30 am | Permalink

      Popeye’s also not bad for franchise food. Although they use to be better when they made them in the facility. I think they make the mix ahead now and just cook them at the place.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      So are these American ‘biscuits’ the equivalent of Yorkshire Puddings in the UK? If not, what is the UK equivalent? Someone mentioned scones earlier BTL, but I just can’t imagine having a scone in gravy, even a savoury scone. I hear a lot of African-American references to ‘biscuits and gravy’, so that’s what I’m imagining, and over here we use Yorkshire puddings to sop up the gravy, but they’re made of a light, buttery pastry, not like scones at all. Scones and gravy sounds rank.

      • bric
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 11:13 am | Permalink

        Yorkshire puddings are made with a batter, not pastry, but I think you are right, they fill the same niche as U S biscuits.

  6. Frank Bath
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Thank you, I’ve long wondered what American biscuits might be. Now ‘pass the biscuits please’ from Ode to Billie Joe will no longer baffle me.
    They’re scones.

    • Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      No, they’re not like the British scones, which are denser and sweeter.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      Ask nice, maybe Jerry will show ya a pic of black-eyed peas, too.

      … speakin’ of the food that Mama fed to Papa and the gal who thew somethin’ off the Tallahatchie Bridge with Billie Joe.

  7. Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    JFK is perhaps the most overrated man in recent history. He brought humankind to the brink of total annihilation, a questionable achievement few have on their plate.

    • Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      He also started the civil rights bill that was ultimately passed under LBJ.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      He only did what presidents are suppose to do or at least use to do. He pushed us to go to the moon. He pushed young people to join the peace corp and do something for their country. He did not create Russia or their leader and I would argue he prevented annihilation, he did no cause it. He was also a veteran of war….I wonder, what have you done?

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      He also abolished the Federal death penalty and generated a partial nuclear test ban treaty.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      That’s the thing about opinions & armpits — everybody got ’em, and most of ’em stink.

    • Posted May 29, 2017 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      In 1961, JFK authorized Agent Orange (with “Operation Ranch Hand”), and thus began a new chapter of chemical warfare. Agent Orange causes birth defects, severe disabilities, cancers, and heart disease. Potentially millions were affected over the generations, numbers vary by source. Even the most conservative estimates are horrible. Add the effect on the environment, which persist to this day. Not my opinion.

      Also in 1961, JFK ordered the invasion of Cuba, trying to make it seem like an uprising. That all failed and became known as the Pig’s Bay Invasion, and was an international embarassment. Castro turned out to be a tyrant, later, but that doesn’t gave Americans permission to invade another country, especially not at that time. Of course, this would be a recurring pattern of US meddling into the affairs other countries for also corporate intereststs. This episode eventually led to the Cuban Missle Crisis, which led humankind to the brink of annihilation. Not an opinion.

      By the end of 1961 and 1962, Kennedy ordered the bombing of South Vietnamese villages and authorized the use of Napalm. Perhaps you need to make yourself aware what it means to be burned to death by Napalm. Not my opinion, either.

      Reading his involvement in Civil Rights shows a more chequered picture, too. Both candidates were pressured to do something about Civil Rights by the street protests. After his election, Kennedy was reluctant, and didn’t want to lose the support of the South. He went ahead, eventually, but it looks like any president eventually would. Even sites that sing high praise on him acknowledge that he didn’t march ahead as it may seem, but was rather pushed forward by a Civil Rights movement.

      John F Kennedy is no hero of history. This is my opinion, and to me especially obvious as the whole Vietnam War is cut and dry in this regard. It is hard to imagine how the use of Napalm or Agent Orange improved the course of history in any positive way — but feel free to make the case.

      JFK is the Mother Teresa of politics, always praised, but was a wretched individial. Totally overrated, and all things considered, more a war criminal like the equally wicket Henry Kissinger. I know that you can make a case of “the times were different then” but that has serious limits. There is no “Just War” reasoning or “it was worth it, in the end” type of effect that could he invoked.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

        You do grind on. But much of your story is just not so. You put the Cuba/CIA thing on Kennedy but that business was already set to go before he arrived. He authorized it and probably should have known better. He was listening to generals. Blame that one on Ike. Putting Vietnam on him is also wrong. The guy was killed in 1963. You go back and look at the history. We did not commit ground forces to Vietnam until until LBJ. Your opinion has allowed you to cloud reality. He did not invent agent orange or have a clue it was anything other than a weed killer. Who do you blame for DDT? Was that Kennedy also. I again sir would ask…what have you done and what did Kennedy do to you.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

          I should have also provided some advice to your obvious blur of history that might be of help. You make your judgement and views from the comfort of your 2017 living room and it is all in the rear view mirror. You cannot study or read about history from that position or you will get most of it wrong. As any student of history could tell you — just don’t take the trip.

          • Posted May 30, 2017 at 7:32 am | Permalink

            Even that part, I was very precise. I can see that some heinous actions like the firebombing of Dresden are edge cases, towards “necessary evil”, arguable, a matter of debate. The nuking in Japan, arguable, was more towards immoral.

            I can see nothing that vindicates the use of Agent Orange and Napalm. It was evil, clearly immoral — if you can excuse that, you can excuse anything as “had to be done at the time”.

        • Posted May 30, 2017 at 7:21 am | Permalink

          This is not very good argument. Nobody discussed DDT, or who started the Vietnam War. The assertions were very specific, and clear.

          I know it is hard to shake off a lifetime of indoctrination and propaganda, but it’s a fact that Kennedy is responsible for the use of chemical weapons, including Agent Orange and Napalm, which he authorized.

          He also took responsibility for the Pig’s Bay invasion. Whether you like it or not. Compare your attitude to that of Christians who also always have excuses, or who cherrypick the good parts as coming from God, but the bad things, well, that’s Satan’s fault.

          Sorry, you know better. Take your time, reconsider, and hopefully in the future a more nuanced understanding emerges.

  8. Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    564th anniversary of the taking of Constantinople by the Ottomans (at last).

    Top parlour game date for most significant dates in history. Possibly the impetus for the Europeans to start the voyages of discovery starting with the Portuguese down Africa through the Indian Ocean to India, the land trade route to Asia being controlled and taxed by the Muslims.

  9. Kevin
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Deep river blues…nice.

  10. Vaal
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    OMG I love American biscuits. I eat them whenever and wherever I can. That goes for grits to.

    America The Great!

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      I like ’em best smothered in sausage gravy.

      • Vaal
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

        I find that gets a bit too rich for me, too fast. Generally I like a warm biscuit and butter on the side of whatever I’m eating.
        Preferably great fried chicken…

  11. prinzler
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    “Deep River Blues” is not a blues tune (assuming one defining characteristic of the blues is its chord progression, even given all its variations). There are plenty of tunes with the word “blues” in the title that are not blues.

    Doc Watson must have just not been careful when he introduced it as a blues tune.

  12. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    To add to the biscuit confusion, this word is an Anglicization of the Italian “biscotti” which means “twice baked”, and that is yet a 3rd thing.

    It is actually the plural of biscottO, but in the USA even the single item is considered a biscottI.

    In Italy, a biscottO is a desert often served with a sweet wine, but in USA it usually accompanies coffee.

  13. Simon Hayward
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    If I were to use the sentence that Sean did, “apparently” would mean something to the effect that “my wife says so and there is no point arguing”

    Re biscuits/scones (as a Brit who spent 14 years in the american south) I’m of the “they look like scones and they taste pretty much like savory scones” school of thought. That being said, the recipes are a bit different, relatively more fat in scones and no egg in biscuits (apparently!)

    Re gravy; red eye gravy and sausage gravy are strange (and to me unappetizing) concoctions (bearing a disturbing resemblance to cat vomit, if you can get past that they taste OK) that are much thicker than the Brits above are imagining. This is not something you’d put on yorkshire pudding (something that’s truly hard to find here)

    • Randy schenck
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      Never much of a southern food person myself, including grits. However, I’ll take some fish and chips any time.

  14. bric
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    The Duke of Devonshire and his biscuits

    The BBC actually issued a correction to this: it was the Duke of Chandos

  15. rickflick
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    I don’t know if the cats are Abyssinians, but they are cute enough to be anything they want.

  16. Posted May 29, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    My father used to make very good “tea biscuit”, with raisins. Toppings included raspberry jam and that spreadable sharp orange cheese (not cheezwiz).

  17. Blue mAAs
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    O sorrow ! One of my most favored feminists
    and, most certainly, my most favored sportswriter
    has this 29 May died: Mr Frank Deford.

    A darling man. And missed.


  18. Barbara Radcliffe
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Very cute cat and kitten, but I don’t think they’re Abyssians. They have far too much white fur.

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