Sunday: Hili dialogue

Good morning: it’s November 5, 2017, and Ceiling Cat’s Day, on which we are instructed to eat, read science and then nap. Foodwise, it’s both National Chinese Take-Out Day (the name suggests one should go out with a Chinese person) and National Doughtnut Day. In the UK (and, says, Wikipedia, in New Zealand, Newfoundland, and Labrador), it’s Guy Fawkes Night, though I don’t know if that’s even celebrated these days.

My big plans for the day include a special lunch for illuminati in the Economics Department with E. O. Wilson and Alan Alda, followed by a one-hour public discussion between the two (part of the Chicago Humanities Festival) at Rockefeller Chapel (!) across the street. The blurb:

In this rare public conversation, Alda engages Edward O. Wilson, one of the most celebrated biologists of our time, whose The Origins of Creativity offers a sweeping examination of the relationship between the humanities and the sciences and how both are rooted in human creativity—the defining trait of our species. Join a master communicator and the “senior statesman of science” for an eloquent exploration of creativity and its manifestations throughout human history.

I haven’t yet read Wilson’s book, though in the Times Literary Supplement I wasn’t very kind to one of his previous books purporting to explain human behavior. I’ll report tomorrow on the lunch and discussion.

As I said, it’s Guy Fawkes night, and that’s because on November 5, 1605, Fawkes was arrested for his role in the “Gunpowder Plot“. On this day in 1872, Susan B. Anthony defied the law against women voting, and was arrested (along with 14 other women) for trying to vote—and actually casting a vote—in the Presidential election. She was later tried, convicted, and fined $100. Two U.S. Presidents were elected on this day in history: Woodrow Wilson (defeating incumbent William Howard Taft) in 1912, and Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940, becoming the first President to attain a third term. He was to be elected once more, but the Constitution now restricts Presidents to only two four-year terms.  On this day in 1916, the emperors of Germany and Austria-Hungary proclaimed the existence of The Kingdom of Poland. That didn’t last long.  On November 5, 2006, Saddam Hussein and his two co-defendants were sentenced to death: the charges were the massacre in 1982 of 148 Shi’a Muslims. On this day in 2007, Google introduced the Android mobile operating system, and exactly two years later, U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 people and wounded 32 at Fort HoodTexas.  He was shot and, paralyzed from the waist down, Hassan was convicted of murder in 2013, sentenced to death, and is now confined in prison at Fort Leavenworth. His case drags on as it’s being reviewed by higher courts.

Notables born on this day include Eugene V. Debs (1855), Roy Rogers (1911), Vivien Leigh (1913), Ike Turner (1931), Art Garfunkel (1941), Sam Shepart (1943; died this year), and Tilda Swinton (1960). Those who “fell asleep” on November 5 include James Clerk Maxwell (1879), George M. Cohan (1942), Alexis Carrel (1944), Maurice Utrillo (1955), Art Tatum (1956), Lionel Trilling (1975), Vladimir Horowitz (1989), Jill Clayburgh (2010; I was unaware that she had died), and Chicago chef Charlie Trotter (2013; I had two excellent meals cooked under his supervision, sitting at the kitchen table in his eponymous restaurant. Trotter was a tyrant in the kitchen, yelling at his sous-chefs and sometimes throwing a plate in the garbage if it didn’t meet his standards).

Tatum, almost completely blind, was one of the greatest jazz pianists in history. Here’s some rare footage of him playing. (To hear a great video discussion of Tatum by two other great pianists, Oscar Peterson and Count Basie, go here.)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili reveals what we all know conditions her every thought:

Hili: For some people worldviews are a digestive function, not a cognitive one.
A: You are on to something.
 In Polish:
Hili: Dla niektórych poglądy na świat są funkcją trawienną, a nie poznawczą.
Ja: Coś w tym jest.

This tweet was stolen from Heather Hastie, and shows how much of a cat is made up of fur:

From Matthew; I’ve surely shown this before but you can’t see it too often. Spot the cat!

And a few more stolen from Heather:

A fennec fox (Vulpes zerda), clearly an animal of the desert:

And two photos of my new favorite cat, Paddles, staffed by New Zealand’s new prime minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner. Paddles has extra toes.

Ardern, once a Mormon, left the church because she couldn’t abide its denigration of homosexuality (she had gay flatmates when she was younger), and now says she’s an “agnostic.” That means she’s an atheist, and apparently so is Paddles! (Note that this was tweeted after Ardern became PM; no American president or his pet would dare issue such a tweet!) This tweet may have been a response to Heather’s tweeting to Paddles a photo of a cat reading “The Dog Delusion”.


  1. jardino
    Posted November 5, 2017 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    >>Guy Fawkes Night, though I don’t know if that’s even celebrated these days.<<

    It certainly is, in the UK anyway.
    Unfortunately, it is being smeared between Hallowe'en at the front end and Xmas at the other end. The supermarkets get filled up with crap from all three festivals from about the end of September.

    I try to avoid shopping from this point on, until Boxing Day (26th December), when the stores are stocking up with Easter eggs…

    Oh my,

    • David Coxill
      Posted November 5, 2017 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      So true ,i hate the last 3 months of the year ,and the first 3 are not all that good .

      • Art
        Posted November 5, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

        40 or so years ago I was fortunate enough to have liberty in Portsmouth — when we left the ship we were beseiged by a mob of lads begging “A penny for the Guy, sir!” After we inquired and found out what they were up to, we dispensed many American coins, which they seemed happy to receive. Do the kids still do that?

        • Stephen Mynett
          Posted November 5, 2017 at 9:36 am | Permalink

          Art, it is not celebrated so much now as Halloween has taken over at that time of year, thatt never used to be such a big thing here. The other main difference is that the penny has gone and although they do not say “a quid for the guy” that is more the sort of money they are after.

          Slightly OT but we have only just got Halloween out of the way. A very churchy and protestant woman I know was moaning a couple of years ago about Halloween, saying it was all about evil and it was a shame the church did nothing to find something good to celebrate on that day. My initial reaction was to ask if she was joking but her quizzical look made me realise she was serious, so I mentioned a bloke called Luther banging a list of grievances to the door of a church, noting he was a protestant and that Reformationstag is a holiday in some German states. I still do not think she got it.

          Got some nice food when I was in Leipzig on that day a few years back:

          • Art
            Posted November 5, 2017 at 10:33 am | Permalink

            Thanks, Stephen. I wish we could get rid of the penny in USA, but the chance of that is slim.

            • Stephen Mynett
              Posted November 5, 2017 at 11:04 am | Permalink

              Sorry Art, I should have been a bit clearer. The penny part is gone in the fact they now say money for the guy or something like that, we still have the coin.

              There has been talk about getting rid of the penny and two pence coins and having the five pence as the lowest, although the main argument against is quite a good one. In a lot of bars, cafés and other public places you often see charity collection boxes and because most people see the penny and twopence as worthless are happy to throw them in, so it is a way of charities getting money.

            • Richard Jones
              Posted November 5, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

              We got rid of it in Canada some time ago and it was never missed. Change is rounded out to the nearest 5 cents when using cash but with credit and debit cards the penny is still there.

          • Posted November 5, 2017 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

            You weren’t in Reading last night and tonight. If people weren’t celebrating Guy Fawkes Night, it must have been a fairly intense gun fight.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted November 6, 2017 at 12:58 am | Permalink

              I assume from the context that’s Reading, Berkshire not Reading, Pennsylvania?


              • Posted November 7, 2017 at 6:53 am | Permalink


                I didn’t know there was another Reading.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted November 7, 2017 at 6:32 pm | Permalink


                Reading, PA is fairly well known. (Or at least, I’ve heard of it. Mosly ‘cos of the Reading Railroad. It was a ‘coal road’, its finances founded on coal. Started as a local road but grew into a quite substantial regional railroad.

                Just to compound the confusion, the Berkshire Ranges are east of Albany, New York. (Had to Google the location). I know of them because steam locomotives of 2-8-4 wheel arrangement are known as ‘Berkshires’ after the first examples used on the Boston & Albany in those hills.)


              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted November 7, 2017 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

                (Damn Yanks, keep appropriating our placenames and causing confusion. 😉


        • David Coxill
          Posted November 6, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

          A lot of families don’t have bonfire night fireworks in their back garden anymore .

          They go to the local organised event instead ,a busy time for the Fire Brigade over here .

  2. Jim batterson
    Posted November 5, 2017 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    With your busy sunday sked today, please do not forget to post pie pics and discussion from yesterdays neighborhood event.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 5, 2017 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Actually, Teddy would have been legal running for president in 1912 even under the new rules. He had been officially elected only once before. It seemed like two terms because McKinley died shortly after the election where Teddy took over. Should he have run was another question since he said he would not and then did. Also created a split republican vote allowing for the election of Wilson.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted November 5, 2017 at 7:16 am | Permalink

      Love that Only in America post from Heather.

  4. Frank Bath
    Posted November 5, 2017 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Guy Fawkes night is not only celebrated with firework displays and ‘the burning of the guy’ but the BBC broadcast a three episode ‘Gunpowder’ drama over the period.
    It’s from the catholic point of view, with gore and ‘orrible tortures that might be too strong for the USA. Well, it was the protestant’s turn…

    • Erp
      Posted November 5, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      Newfoundland and Labrador are one political entity (now a province of Canada but up until 1949 separate from Canada and for a while a separate self-governing country [until 1934 and under just the name Newfoundland]). Guy Fawkes night is still celebrated there according to newspaper reports (as it is in parts of the UK). Catholics were perceived by many non-Catholic English then as many non-Muslims now perceive Muslims.

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 5, 2017 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Correction on the post above. I should have read the 22 amendment before acting. Since Teddy was pres. more than two years of McKinley’s term, he would not be allowed to run under the amendment.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 5, 2017 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Legend has it that Fats Waller, one of the great stride pianists of all time, was playing in a club one night when he espied Art Tatum in the audience. Said Waller: “I’m only a piano player; but, tonight, God is in the house.”

    One of your people who dozed off on this date, Vladimir Horowitz, was also a great fan of Tatum’s. As an homage, he took to playing “Tea for Two” as an encore at his concerts. People who merely listened to Tatum play his version of “Tea for Two” were often confused into thinking they were hearing a duet.

    There’s discussion between the aforementioned Oscar Peterson and Andre Previn about Tatum here.

  7. MKray
    Posted November 5, 2017 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Guy Fawkes (his night, at least) is alive and well in New Zealand, as it was in 1954 when I put on display of home made fireworks for my family. GFN always beat Xmas in excitement!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 5, 2017 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. It’s Fireworks Night.

      And my sources indicate that it’s equally celebrated in the UK still.

      It’s *the* night of the year when everyone lets off fireworks.

      USAnians do Halloween, we do Guy Fawkes.


  8. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted November 5, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Technically, it’s just much easier to fire a fictional president than a real one, both re the mechanics and the number of people in charge. I’m not entirely sure there’s any kind of higher standard here.

  9. Jenny Haniver
    Posted November 5, 2017 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    So what does Hili think of research that links the health of the gut microbiome to cognitive development and function?

    She’s sharp as a tack in more ways than one, and with her pressing dietary concerns, which she frequently comments on, I think that of all creatures, she exemplifies the saying that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.”

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted November 5, 2017 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      And when I read “My big plans for the day include a special lunch for illuminati in the Economics Department…” couldn’t help it but my mind capitalized the word “Illuminati” (because it’s rarely used these days except to refer to the fictional group beloved by conspiracy theorists, and for a nanosecond, I thought I was losing my mind.

  10. Heather Hastie
    Posted November 5, 2017 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    As MKray says above, we indeed celebrate Guy Fawkes in NZ. I would guess that most people don’t even know what they are celebrating, but it’s a good excuse for fireworks. (I remember the editor of a newspaper I once worked for writing about “guyfawkes” and clearly not having a clue what she was writing about.)

    The only time the public can legally buy fireworks in NZ is the first five days of November. We don’t do the burning the Guy thing, though sometimes we have bonfires just for the sake of it. That’s what the combination of night time, summer, and beaches is for. Don’t do anything else – the sand is a problem, believe me.

  11. Barney
    Posted November 7, 2017 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Tragedy – Paddles has dies after being hit by a car:

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