Friday: Hili dialogue

Well, we’re already halfway through the year, at least in terms of months, as it’s June 30, 2017, and a Friday. (It’s actually only the 181st day of the year.) This is a holiday weekend in the U.S., as Independence Day (July 4) is on Tuesday, and Americans (not me!) will be taking both taking Monday and Tuesday off. It’s also my sister’s birthday and thus my half-birthday, as I was born on December 30. Appropriately for a Friday, it’s National Mai Tai Day, though I usually eschew such sweet and fruity libations. It’s also International Asteroid Day, but nobody will observe that except, perhaps, at observatories. Count on Neil deGrasse Tyson to tweet it.

On this day in 1520, the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés and his troops battled their way out of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital built on the site of what is now central Mexico City. In the next year Cortés retook the city, killing hundreds of thousands while losing few of his own troops. On June 30, 1859, the French acrobat Charles Blondin walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope, a feat I still find unimaginable, though many have now done it. Here’s a photo of his feat—he crossed in both directions, and on the way back carried a camera strapped to his back, stopping in the middle to take a photo!:

It’s a famous day for evolutionary biology, for on June 30, 1860, the Great Oxford evolution debate debate took place at the Oxford Museum of Natural History. The participants included Thomas Henry Huxley, Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, Benjamin Brodie, Joseph Dalton Hooker and Robert FitzRoy, captain on the Beagle voyage. The famous exchange between Wilberforce and Huxley, in which the Bishop asked Huxley if he was descended from an ape on his mother’s or father’s side, and Huxley replying that he’d rather be descended from an ape than from a man who would use his great speaking powers to distort the truth—well, all that may not have happened exactly as it’s told. But it was still a great day for evolution!

Exactly two years later, Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables was completed; Google has celebrated it with a five-part Doodle. Click on the screenshot to see it:

On this day in the “Miracle Year” of 1905, Albert Einstein submitted his article On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies, introducing his theory of special relativity, for publication in Annalen der Physik. In 1966, The National Organization for Women was founded, and on this day in 1997, the UK handed over Hong Kong to China.

Notables born on June 30 include Susan Hayward and Lena Horne (both 1917), biochemist and Nobel Laureate Paul Berg (1926), and my sister Susan J. Coyne (1952; happy birthday, Sis!). Those who died on this day included Nancy Mitford (1973), Chet Atkins (2001), and Buddy Hackett 2003). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili, having learned about her wild ancestors, pretends she is one:

A: Hili, What are you doing?
Hili: I’m hunting big game.
 In Polish:
Ja: Hili, co ty robisz?
Hili: Poluję na grubego zwierza.

Out in Winnipeg, Gus is again drinking from the watering can, and watching his favorite sight: a squirrel named Ginger/Fred, so called because a). it dances on the fence and b). its sex is still indeterminate. Staff member Taskin reports:

Gus at his favourite watering hole. and one of GingerFred, apparently waiting for someone to measure how long she is. Look at those great toes!

Finally, a nice tweet found by Matthew:


  1. Paul S
    Posted June 30, 2017 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Priceless, that is one confused kitteh.

  2. Graham Head
    Posted June 30, 2017 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    I hope they found a ball for him to play with.

  3. Randy schenck
    Posted June 30, 2017 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Some good cat pics today and love that squirrel. Having heard a lot of noise last night after dark, I have to ask any of these noise makers, just what the hell are you celebrating?

  4. Susan Mears
    Posted June 30, 2017 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Bro, one of my good friends just texted me and told me to read your website today. Thanks for the birthday greetings; happy half birthday to you. I am officially old now, but still kickin’. I am newly outfitted with my Medicare card and ready to face whatever comes. Where did all of the time go? Take care, and thanks for remembering your adorable sister. xoxo

    • Randy schenck
      Posted June 30, 2017 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      Congrats to you and that Medicare thing. You have now cross over to affordable medical insurance – just don’t forget a good supplemental to go with it.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted June 30, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      By my calculations, Jerry Coyne’s half-birthday is tomorrow July 1.

      That is the 182st day of the year and Dec 30 is the 364th.

  5. Posted June 30, 2017 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    The only time the Fourth doesn’t result in a long weekend is when it falls on a Wednesday. When it falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, people take a long long weekend.

  6. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted June 30, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Huxley’s opponent, Samuel Wilberforce, was called “Soapy Sam”. One theory is because Benjamin Disraeli called him “unctuous, oleaginous, saponaceous”. He was also known for overly frequent handwashing.

    However, as the son of a prominent abolitionist, SW may have been worried about the consequences of Social Darwinism. Like his American counterpart of a later generation, William Jennings Bryan, he was a mixture of religious conservatism, and political progressive populism.

  7. Diane G.
    Posted July 1, 2017 at 2:54 am | Permalink

    Oh, the expression on that cat’s face! 😦

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