Wednesday: Hili dialogue

It’s Hump Day: Wednesday, October 18, 2017, and by the time you’ll read this I’ll be off to Cambridge, Massachusetts for a some R&R. Sadly, last night the Cubs lost to the Dodgers—in Chicago—and if they lose tonight their season will be over, with no chance of a berth in the World Series. But two Series victories in a row was too much to hope for anyway.

As I’m flying today, I must negotiate the dreaded Transportation Security Agency screening, even though I have TSA “Pre-Check,” which allows me to skip the long lines and get other perks like not removing my liquids and computer from my carryon. But first, a vote:

I will report later on today if I have time. It’s National Chocolate Cupcake Day, as well as World Menopause Day.

On this day in 1851, Herman Melville’s great novel Moby-Dick was first published—in London, and under the title The Whale. On October 18, 1867, the United States formally took possession of Alaska after buying it from Russia for only $7.2 million—a bargain. It’s celebrated in that state as “Alaska Day.” Also on October 18, but in 1898, the U.S. took possession of Puerto Rico from Spain—an island yet to achieve statehood. On this day in 1922, the BBC (with the “C” then standing for “Company”) was founded as a group of radio transmitters that would constitute the national broadcasting service. On this day in 1945, Juan Perón married the actress Eva Duarte. He would later become President of Argentina, and his wife, “Evita,” would be immensely popular until her death in 1952 (aged only 33) from cervical cancer. I must admit I have a soft spot for Evita, who, despite fiercely supporting her husband, really did try to do good for the poor:


On this day in 1954, Texas Instruments produced the first transistor radio. If you’re of a certain age, like me, you’ll have had one, and walked around with it glued to your ear, or listened to it under the covers at night—one of my favorite surreptitious habits as a kid.

Finally, on October 18, 1963, Félicette, a black and white female stray cat from Paris, became the first cat launched into space. She came back alive, but her subsequent fate is unknown. Here she is (can someone read and translate the inscription, as I can’t make it out?):


And a description from Wikipedia:

The French had around fourteen cats in training (in equipment such as high-G centrifuges and compression chambers) in 1963. The animals were being trained by the Centre d’Enseignement et de Recherches de Médecine Aéronautique (CERMA).

On 18 October 1963 at 8:09am, on the French sounding rocket (for research) Véronique AGI 47 (made in Vernon, Eure, Upper Normandy or Haute-Normandie), Félicette, a black and white female cat found on the streets of Paris, was sent into space.  Véronique came from the German World War II Aggregate (rocket family) (A8), and also led to the French Diamant satellite launcher.

The Veronique AGI was developed for the International Geophysical Year (Année géophysique internationale) in 1957 for biological research. Seven, out of the fifteen made, would carry live animals.

It was a non-orbital flight, and lasted fifteen minutes, reaching a height of 156 kilometres. The cat was recovered safely after the capsule parachuted to Earth.

Here’s a movie about Félicette and her fellow astrocats, though I don’t think they were treated very well:

Notables born on this day include Henri Bergson (1859), A. J. Liebling (1904), Anita O’Day and Pierre Trudeau (both 1919), Chuck Berry (1926), Mike “The Coach” Ditka (1939), Laura Nyro (1947), Martina Navratilova (1956), Wynton Marsalis (1961), and Freida Pinto (1984). Those who died on October 18 include Charles Babbage (1871), Alfred Binet (1911), Thomas Edison (1931), Walt Kelly (1973) and Sylvia Kristel (2012).

Today’s Hili dialogue is a bit enigmatic, but Andrzej has supplied this link to explain it.

Hili: Socrates was right.
A: Yes, I’m afraid so.
In Polish:
Hili: Sokrates miał rację.
Ja: Też się tego obawiam.
Finally, a few t**ts shameless cribbed from Heather Hastie:
Look at that budgie balance!

And a fledgling kakapo. It’s a good year in New Zealand for these heavily endangered and flightless parrots:


  1. Posted October 18, 2017 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    I had a beer with a black & white pub cat in Kings Cross last night. It sat on a stool washing then endearingly squatted with both forelegs hanging down.
    There must be other cat pubs?

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      Yes, the Bag of Nails in Bristol is famous, harboring a whole clowder of cats: 15 of them!

      • Stephen Mynett
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

        It is a great pub, I live only about 40 miles from Bristol so popped down for a visit after seeing the story on this site.

        If you are ever in the region I’ll get you a pint.

        • claudia baker
          Posted October 18, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

          Just PCC, or any of us?

          • Stephen Mynett
            Posted October 18, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

            Anyone is welcome.

            • claudia baker
              Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:38 pm | Permalink


  2. Randy schenck
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    And while the Cubs were losing it seems the Yankees have found a modern day Babe Ruth to keep them in the running. I have never seen a baseball player in the majors of this size. Something like 6’7″ and 270 lbs. Apparently the guy smashed one out of the park last night to save the Yanks and make it 2-2.

    • dabertini
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      Yes, and when Ken Rosenthal interviewed Aaron, it was like watching a modern day David and Goliath getting ready to do battle.

  3. brigittenerlich
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    I think the inscription on Felicette’s photo says:
    Thanks for your participation in our great success of 18 October 1963

    • bPer
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      I think you’re right.

      If you do a Google search for the phrase “Merci pour votre participation à mon succès du 18 octobre 1963”, you get scads of hits, and the first hit (for me anyway) takes you to the French entry for Félicette.

      I must say I couldn’t make out the word before “succès”. My best guess was that it was “aider”, but that doesn’t make sense. Given that the “on” at the end of “participation” looks like the last part of the mystery word, I can make myself believe that the word is “mon”.

      • bPer
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

        Ah, damn, I doubly screwed up. I replied to the wrong comment and misread that comment. {sigh}

        According to the Google search I referred to above, I think the inscription reads “Thank you for your participation in my success of 18 October 1963”.

  4. Roger Latour
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    “Merci pour votre participation à notre succès du 18 Octobre 1963”, “Thanks for your participation in our achievement of October 18, 1963”. French cats were severely unilingual back then.

  5. gary vonck
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    re: Felicette.

    I think it reads:
    Merci pour votre participation à notre succès du 18 octobre 1963.
    (thank you for your participation at our succes of 18 october 1963)

    kind regards.

  6. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    D’you suppose the results of that poll (“will PCC get groped”) – currently 69% “yes” – reflect pessimism, or malice, on the part of the commentariat? 😉


    • Steven in Tokyo
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      Definitely pessimism. At least in my case.

    • W.Benson
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      The TSA has declared Jerry to be god-like and is never to be groped again (unless he keeps making fun of them; then it is get-back time).

  7. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    “On this day in 1954, Texas Instruments produced the first transistor radio.”

    Just a reminder of what a great advance Walkmans and subsequent players with headphones have been, to everyone who *doesn’t* want to listen to someone else’s choice of music on public transport. The worst we have to contend with these days is headphone leakage.


    • DaveP
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      Disagree. The worst we have to contend with is loud phone conversations on public transport. Much more annoying than any music.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

        With respect, no. Even the most irritating, banal, braindead phone conversation can’t approach the annoyance quotient of *some* music. For me, it’s rap, and before that, some ‘disco’, that makes me want to strangle the perpetrator. I’m sure there are some tunes that make you want to kill.


    • darrelle
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      I miss the giant boom boxes. No, really.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

        In the right setting, which IMO is not in close proximity to an unappreciative captive audience.


  8. dallos
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    “Félicette ‘had her hour of glory’ when she returned safely to Paris; then she was kept at the CERMA laboratories for 2 or 3 months while checks and studies were carried out. Sadly, after this time she was put to sleep, so that further studies could be made on the electrodes that had been implanted in her brain.”

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      NOOOOOO!!!!! Poor kitty. For her sacrifices she should have been adopted and treated like a queen for the rest of her life.

    • Blue
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know if folks know of this matter
      or not; but electrodes in hunnerts of, well,
      very many laboratories are implanted specifically in to kitty cat skulls / brains. Trigger warning ( at least for me, anyhow … …
      and I have actually repeatedly .seen. this
      deal up close and personal !) cuz of thus: !

      One does not even need, when images’
      searching, to use the words ‘cranium’,
      ‘skull’ or ‘brain’; its use specifically
      anatomically .there. is .that. widespread
      … … likely cuz of thus:
      so that when searching ‘cats’ and
      ‘electrodes’ are enough words to use !

      And, o’course, post experiments ? .Then. is
      when, wull, … … one truly requires a
      trigger warning. I had a full professor at one time, DVM clinician / professor of fourth year – students in clinics’ rotations, who quite literally MADE us, by his rotational directive !, … … made us professional DVM – aspiring students .do. it cuz he just could not. Ever. In fact, he left the room. Always.


  9. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    “World Menopause Day” — the MRAs are right; chicks get all the good stuff.

  10. Posted October 18, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    The last time the Cubs won the world series we shortly after elected a dangerous and cruel narcissist to the most powerful office on earth.
    Coincidence?? Well, yes.

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      They aren’t even going to get into the Series this year.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 10:16 am | Permalink

        As Cubs’ fans were once wont to say after a tough opening day loss, “wait till next year.”

  11. BJ
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    I have a question for our resident Kiwi, Heather Hastie (or anyone else who may be able to answer the following Kokapoian questions):

    1. Considering the immense damage even the limited Kakapo population can cause to property, do all New Zealanders support trying to increase their numbers?

    2. Does the New Zealand government or any conservation organization have a plan to limit potential property damage should the plans to increase the Kakapo Army of Destruction succeed?

    • BJ
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Damn it, I just realized I mixed up the Kakapo with the Kea. Still, seeing as Keas are greatly endangered, please apply my questions to them.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      One of the reasons kea numbers are so low is farmers used to shoot them because they would sit on sheep’s backs and eat through the wool to the fat while they were still alive.

      Attitudes have changed now. You’d struggle to find a NZer who wasn’t supportive of efforts to help our native birds, and I’m not exaggerating.

      Numbers are so low it’s unlikely there’ll ever be so many they become a nuisance. Most people enjoy their antics and accept the experience as part of us intruding on nature. There are heaps of national parks for them to live in now too without them encroaching on farmland. If it became a problem, it would be discussed I’m sure, but it’s not something anyone is worrying about at this stage.

      There is a national policy, supported by whichever political party is in power, to make NZ predator free by 2050. The Department of Conservation does a lot of work towards this. There are also heaps (probably hundreds) of private groups doing things towards the goal.

      You probably know that all predators to our native birds are introduced. (Rats, possums, stoats, weasels.) The other two are cats and dogs of course. NZers are good at not letting their pets become feral. Feral dogs are unheard of. Stray dogs are rare and all councils have animal control officers. Feral and stray cats are rare. There’s also a programme of de-sexing strays and most people de-sex their pets.

      There is a very wealthy philanthropist who suggested getting rid of cats altogether. He got death threats for that one though.

      • BJ
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        Wow, thanks for that extremely thorough and informative response 🙂

        I wouldn’t have threatened that wealthy philanthropist, but I would have told him there’s just no telling how my cats might react if he angered them…

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted October 19, 2017 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

          Ha ha! And no worries.

          I always wonder about the sort of person who thinks a death threat is an appropriate response to anything. I’m not sure they’re fit to have pets quite honestly. Being protective is a good thing, but a death threat is clearly an overreaction in my view.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 3:29 am | Permalink

        That was Gareth Morgan. He suggested people boycott the SPCA financially because they wouldn’t endorse his stand on cats. Every time he opens his mouth the SPCA gets a small donation from me.


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

      Keas are endangered, unique to New Zealand, and cute. Sheep are none of those things.

      Any damage keas may cause to e.g. cars is superficial and limited in geographical extent and negligible compared with the massive environmental destruction of native bush and natural habitat, and widespread soil erosion in hill country, caused by sheep. (Admittedly goats are worse). One could argue that sheep just shouldn’t be allowed for environmental reasons in most of the places keas frequent.

      Me, biassed?


      • BJ
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        Your anti-sheep agenda is clear, sheepaphobe.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted October 20, 2017 at 1:30 am | Permalink

          Is it that obvious? 😉

          Sheep are singularly useless animals, IMO, and their meat is the most boring and tasteless. (Boiled mutton – the only thing that can make cabbage seem tasty by comparison)


  12. Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Just imagine how crazy the Cold War would have been if Alaska had remained Russian and hence Soviet!

    • JohnnieCanuck
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      We could have seen Russia from Canada. Alaska cruises just wouldn’t have been the same, somehow.

      • BJ
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

        Apparently, Soviet cruises weren’t too bad!

        I mean, not great, but probably almost as good as what a Carnival cruise might have been back then (if they had existed).

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted October 19, 2017 at 3:40 am | Permalink

          One of which, Mikhail Lermontov, was sunk by a reckless idiot of a New Zealand pilot.


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

      You would’ve been spared Sarah Palin, for a start…


  13. Randy schenck
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    That Kakapo chick…Only a mother could love.

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