Saturday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on Saturday, November 4, 2017. Formally, it’s National Candy Day, but for me it’s the day of the  South Side Pie Challenge, when all of Hyde Park’s bakers will be competing to win ribbons for their homemade pies. When the judging is over at 2 pm, eager eaters like me are allowed to enter, buying tickets for slices of the pies of your choice. I’m planning on buying five slices (eating them over several days), and of course will document the event on this site, as I have before (see here, here, and here). If you’re in Chicago and love pie, you can’t do better than this; and it’s for a good cause, too (proceeds go to fight hunger on Chicago’s South Side). I hope to see you there!

On November 4, 1847, the Scottish doctor Sir James Young Simpson discovered that chloroform could be used as an anesthetic. On this day in 1922, archaeologist Howard Carter and his team found the entrance to the tomb of Tutankhamun (“King Tut”). Lots of U.S. Presidents were elected on this day: Calvin Coolidge in 1924, Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, Ronald Reagan in 1980, and Barack Obama in 2008.  On this day in 1956, after the Hungarians had rebelled against Soviet occupation, Soviet troops invaded the country, killing thousands of Hungarians while thousands more left the country. On November 4, 1960, according to Wikipedia, “At the Kasakela Chimpanzee Community in Tanzania, Dr Jane Goodall observes chimpanzees creating tools, the first-ever observation in non-human animals.” Many of you may remember this day in 1979, when Iranians—most of them students—invaded the American embassy in Tehran, taking 90 hostages, 53 of them American.  The crisis lasted 444 days, and was on the news every night. Finally, on November 4, 1995, Yigal Amir, an Israeli extremist who opposed the Oslo Accords, assassinated Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Amir remains in prison serving a life sentence.

Here’s Howard Carter and one of his men examining the mummy case:

Notables born on this day include the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (1618), Will Rogers (1879), Walter Cronkite (1916), Laura Bush (1946), and Sean “Puffy” Combs (1969). Those who “went to sleep” on this day include Felix Mendelssohn (1847), Wilfred Owen (1918; killed in action on November 4, exactly one week before the Armistice), Cy Young (1955), Michael Crichton (2008), and Andy Rooney (2011). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili finds that apple pie is not to her liking:

Hili: It’s not interesting.
A: Praise the Lord!
In Polish:
Hili: To jest mało interesujące.
Ja: Dzięki Bogu.


Reader John sent me this notice that is apparently displayed on Qatar Airlines planes:

I wonder, though, how they know the direction of Mecca? Do they twist in their seats?

I forgot who sent me this tweet, but it shows a lovely jungle cat and her kittens.

Nobody thinks much about Asian jungle cats, but they are pretty; here’s one (they’re small but larger than a house cat):

This is from Dr. Cobb:

This was sent by Heather, who knows I love Pallas’s Cats (Otocolobus manul) most of all. Look at that fluffball!


  1. Posted November 4, 2017 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    The direction to Mecca can be shown on the in-flight entertainment system.

    • David Coxill
      Posted November 4, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      In GB they once had to tear down a Mosque because it face Ladbrokes instead of Mecca .

    • murali
      Posted November 4, 2017 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      The direction is shown on Emirates flights. At least it was on some flights that I have been on. I wonder if God is omnipresent according to Islam. Maybe he can be everywhere but not hear, or be able to hear but be in only one place.

  2. Dave
    Posted November 4, 2017 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    “I wonder, though, how they know the direction of Mecca? Do they twist in their seats?”

    I’ve flown on Emirates airways, and the seatback screen used for the in-flight entertainment had a “Mecca-indicator” app, with a moveable arrow programmed to always point in the direction of the place, in the same manner as a compass needle. Muslim passengers could then twist or at least turn their heads in the correct direction when praying.

    • David Harper
      Posted November 4, 2017 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      Calculating the direction to Mecca is a relatively simple piece of mathematics, provided you know your location. It doesn’t surprise me that it’s programmed into the seatback screen.

    • Posted November 4, 2017 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      Maybe the spatial perception of the believers improves by the use of the app which permanently displays the exact orientation to Mecca like a compass needle?

      And one study may one day find that religious Muslims who travel frequently have a better spatial orientation than non-traveling Muslims?

      Apart from the irrationality of the faith, in some areas there may be real cognitive gains through specific religious practices.

    • Dionigi
      Posted November 4, 2017 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

      Saudia Airlines used to have a gadget on the ceiling of the plane, shaped like a round fluorescent fitting, with a large arrow which always pointed to Mecca.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 4, 2017 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Being caught by surprise in foreign revolution seems to be a regular habit of the U.S. Just about 10 years before the take over of the American Embassy in Iran there was the Coup and take over of Libya by Muammar Gaddafi in Sept. 1969. I always remember this one because half of our squadron was at Wheelus AFB in Tripoli at the time. The other half along with me were in Italy and missed out on the excitement.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted November 4, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      I think that’s some “excitement” I’d prefer to view from afar!

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted November 4, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        Actually, it went pretty well as I remember. Gaddafi made them get the airplanes out pretty quickly but the guys had to hang around for another week or two before they left. Probably lots of negotiations that we knew nothing about. The down side was, I never got a chance to go to Libya and we lost the best practice range in all of Europe.

        • nicky
          Posted November 5, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

          Where was that practice range? Is there something I’m missing? Libya is in Africa.

  4. David Harper
    Posted November 4, 2017 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    When my wife and I visited the Kennedy Space Centre a few years ago, the astronaut presenting the daily “Meet an Astronaut” event told the audience that he had flown on a shuttle mission with a Saudi Arabian astronaut.

    Given that the shuttle orbited the Earth once every 90 minutes, it would have been quite a challenge for the Saudi astronaut to point in the right direction when praying.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted November 4, 2017 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      @David That would be Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The below is mainly cut/paste Wiki:

      The “first Muslim, first Saudi, first Arab & first royal in space” – he went up as a ‘payload specialist’ [translation: fifth wheel] – a free trip for a House of Saud royal on the occasion of the deployment of the first ‘Arabsat’ comms satellite.

      I don’t think these wealthy Arab playboys give a toss about the niceties of performing Ibadah [other than saving face of course].

      BUT Malaysia’s space agency, Angkasa, convened a conference of 150 Islamic scientists and scholars in 2006 to address the question, among others, of how to pray towards Mecca in space. A document was produced in early 2007 called “A Guideline of Performing Ibadah at the International Space Station (ISS)” which was approved by Malaysia’s National Fatwa Council.

      Here it is in English [.doc format]:

      This part amused me the most: “The performance of the physical postures (such as standing, bowing and prostrating) is to suit the conditions in ISS, prioritizing as follows [higher up the list, the better]

      ** If upright standing is not possible, then any standing posture,
      ** Sitting. Bowing is by bringing down the chin closer to the knee or the prostrating place
      ** Lying down on the right side with body facing the direction of Qibla
      ** Lying flat
      ** Using the eye lid as an indicator of the changing of postures in prayer
      ** Imagining the sequence of prayer

      There are other pleasing absurdities in the document

      • Dionigi
        Posted November 4, 2017 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

        Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was given the job of announcing either the start or end of ramadan (I don’t remember which) that year from space.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted November 4, 2017 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

          That’s interesting, thank you

          Eid al-Fitr was the 19th June 1985 that year, which is bang in the middle of his week on STS-51-G Discovery.

  5. David Coxill
    Posted November 4, 2017 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Off topic ,but has the left wing revolution started in America ,alex jones said it is due to start on the 4th of November ,so it must be true.

  6. claudia baker
    Posted November 4, 2017 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    “praying on board” – so depressing. It seems that, even though non-belief is said to be increasing, seeing this kind of thing always makes me wonder if that’s true.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 4, 2017 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      Whereas the Xtians don’t start praying until there’s an emergency 😉


  7. Posted November 4, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    The photo of Mabel reminds me of one of my favorite novels, Kater Murr by E.T.A. Hoffman.

    The eponymous feline hero, of course, not only could read, he wrote!

  8. nicky
    Posted November 5, 2017 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    That jungle cat (aka reed cat?) is really high on its legs. A beautiful cat.

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