Sunday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on Sunday, November 12, 2017: Ceiling Cat’s Day. It’s one of the worst food holidays of the year: National Pizza With Anchovies Day. I cannot abide that malodorous fish, and will not eat it on pizza or anything else! It’s also World Pneumonia Day. If you’re over 60, get your pneumococcal pneumonia shots like PCC(E) did (two shots a year apart).

On November 12, 1912, the frozen bodies of Robert Scott and his men, having failed to reach safety on their Antarctica expedition (they were 11 miles short of a food cache), were found on the Ross Ice Shelf. From the Atlas Obscura:

In November 1912, on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica, the surviving members of Scott’s Terra Nova expedition were searching for their leader. Scott and his party had vanished into the snows the previous year – never returning from their quest for the South Pole. On November 12th, one of the group, physicist Charles Wright, saw “a small object projecting above the surface” of the snow. It was part of a tent. They had discovered the final resting place of Scott and two of his men, Henry “Birdie” Bowers and Edward Wilson. Scott lay between them, his diary recording their final days: “It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more,” the last entry ran, “For God’s sake look after our people.” In his final starved, frostbitten days, Scott worried about the financial burden on the families he and his men had left behind.

Scott and four of his his men made it to the South Pole, but discovered to their chagrin that Roald Amundsen had gotten there five weeks before. They took this dispirited photo (using a string attached to the camera) on January 17, the day they reached the Pole. They had only a bit more than three weeks to live. Read in WEIT about the 35 pounds of fossils they dragged with them to their final resting place: fossils of the seed fern Glossopteris, proving that Antarctica had once been forested and supporting suggestions that it had been part of a larger supercontinent.

Here’s a video showing one of Scott’s specimens. Imagine dragging these on a human-drawn sled all the way to the end!

On this day in 1927, Leon Trotsky was kicked out of the Soviet Communist party, leaving Joseph Stalin in charge. Trotsky eventually fled to Mexico where he got an ice axe in the skull. On November 12, 1942, the famous Naval Battle of Guadalcanal took place between Japanese and American forces in the Pacific. The three-day battle proved a decisive victory for the Americans, but the war had a long way to go.  On this day in 1958, the cliff of El Capitan in Yosemite, California, was climbed for the first time  (the “Nose” ascent) by Warren harding and his team. It took them 45 days over 18 months, and using ropes, pitons, and bolts. Now it can be climbed in a day or less.  The Nose, a 3,000-foot climb, is a prow that divides two vertical faces:


On November 12, 1969, journalist Seymour Hersch broke the story of the My Lai Massacre, in which American troops killed between 300 and 500 unarmed Vietnamese civilians. Only one person served time for that crime: Lt. William Calley, and he did only 3.5 years in jail. Calley, still alive, works at a jewelry store in Georgia. Finally, on this day six years ago, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi resigned over his inability to handle his country’s debt.

Notables born on November 12 include Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815), Auguste Rodin (1840), Karl Marx (1897), Grace Kelly (1929), Charles Manson (1934), Booker T. Jones (1944), Neil Young (1945), Nadia Comăneci, (1961), and Ryan Gosling (1980). Those who fell asleep on this day include Percival Lowell (1916), William Holden (1981), H. R. Haldeman (1983) and Wilma Rudolph (1994).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, there’s yet another arcane Hili dialogue. So I asked Malgorzata to explain:

Well, she was reading Erich Fromm and thought that she needs help to be let out, like those who escape from freedom need some help as well.
When I wrote that Hili was inside, and seemed to be escaping to freedom, I got this response:

She is not escaping from freedom. She is freely associating her predicament (need for help to get out) with her newly acquired knowledge that there are plenty of people who are trying to escape from freedom. She never thought about the possibility that anybody would like to escape from freedom. She was astounded after reading Fromm. And when she waited for one of us to let her out TO freedom, a thought suddenly struck her that even these strange people who are escaping FROM freedom need some help.

So be it; I don’t know from Fromm. Here’s the photo and dialogue:

Hili: There are situations when even escape from freedom requires co-operation.
A: It can’t be denied.
In Polish:
Hili: Są sytuacje kiedy nawet ucieczka od wolności wymaga współpracy.
Ja: Nie da się zaprzeczyć.

It’s snowy out in Winnipeg, and Gus ventured out. His staff sent a video and a report:

Gus inspected the new fallen snow this morning. I like when he hops on one front foot to avoid putting the other one down. I am actually impressed that he went out that far and for so long.

From reader Charleen, a yoga cat:

Matthew contributes three tweets today. The first is an optical illusion; be sure to turn the video on, watch for 20 or 30 seconds, staring at the middle, and then look elsewhere to see the aftereffect.

Do you think this elephant really is trying to rescue a man that it supposed was drowning?

One of these things is not like the others:


  1. David Coxill
    Posted November 12, 2017 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Re the optical illusion ,wow ,far out man .

    • Kiwi Dave
      Posted November 12, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      I tried the illusion three times with zero effect other than slightly sore eyes.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 12, 2017 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Many who followed U.S. actions in WWII overlook the pacific war where action got an earlier start and although the strategy was Germany first, Guadalcanal was the first big battle for the Americans.

    The race to the south pole and the stories of Scott & Amundsen are some of the best reads on exploration.

  3. Chris Lang
    Posted November 12, 2017 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Ralph Vaughan Williams composed a beautiful and terrifying symphony on the Scott tragedy, his Seventh Symphony, the “Sinfonia antartica” (1952). (This was adapted from the soundtrack he composed the 1947 movie “Scott of the Antarctic.) It includes wordless female vocals, a pipe organ, and a wind machine.

    Some versions have each of the five movements begin with a spoken quotation. The quotation for the final movement is an entry from Scott’s last journal: “I do not regret this journey; we took risks, we knew we took them, things have come out against us, therefore we have no cause for complaint.”

  4. Posted November 12, 2017 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    When I was a grad student, one of my fellow students accompanied a Lindblad Explorer style tour of Antarctica as an expert on penguins. He sent back to us a post card, across which he had scrawled, “For God’s sake look after our people.”

    • Posted November 12, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      You probably know that one of Scott’s scientific objectives on his expedition was to confirm the Recapitulation Theory of evolution by looking at penguin eggs, hoping to see a reptilian stage of their development.

    • W.Benson
      Posted November 12, 2017 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      I would be interested in knowing what Scott thought embryonic recapitulation was. Certainly it did not correspond to the concepts developed by Ernst Haeckel, and maligned by most everyone since. Also, if such an important point, why penguins? and why not penguins from friendlier places like S. Africa and S. Australia?

      • W.Benson
        Posted November 12, 2017 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        It was the expedition’s naturalist, the zoologist Edward “Uncle Bill” Wilson and not Scott, a navy man without academic training, who was interested in recapitulation. Wilson had learned that penguins were primitive birds (they are not) and may have postulated that, because they hadn’t evolved much, reptilian characters would persist later in the embryo than in other birds. Wilson also believed that Emperor Penguins were more primitive than other species. The story is presented in expedition member Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s 1922 book, “The Worst Journey in the World: Antarctic 1910-1913,” vol. 1.

  5. Historian
    Posted November 12, 2017 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    The Karl Marx most people think of was born on May 5, 1818 and died on March 14, 1883. Is there another one born in 1890? Groucho was born in 1890, but on October 2nd.

  6. Jacques Hausser
    Posted November 12, 2017 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    At least a topic where I definitively, absolutely, irremediably disagree with PCC. A pizza without anchovies is like visiting Britanny without seing the sea, like a soup without salt, like a solitary honeymoon…

    • Posted November 12, 2017 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      I agree with you at the anchovies topic.
      btw: I’ve read it several times but did not know what to do with it: what does “PCC” stand for?

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted November 12, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

        Piscus Contrarian Curmudgeon

      • Peter N
        Posted November 12, 2017 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        “Professor Ceiling Cat”. Long story.

        • Posted November 12, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

          Thanks for the hint that was sufficient for a Google search to find out that this is a meme that has circulated for several years. Now I know something more and the restlessness due to my cognitive gap has been alleviated a bit 🙂

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted November 12, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      I’m with there JH! An excellent little flavour enhancer of the mundane pizza!

      No anchovies? Say goodbye to Worcestershire sauce, Caesar salad dressing, remoulade, gentleman’s relish, a variety of fish sauces & butters [Café de Paris etc.] & it’s a little marvel with roast lamb – as in for example Roman lamb with anchovies & rosemary. First recipe here:

    • David Duncan
      Posted November 12, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink


      Upon discovering that I love anchovies, especially on pizzza, a female friend announced that we *could* have dated. She married a guy larely because he liked anchovies.

    • John Frum
      Posted November 12, 2017 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      For the best lamb roast, cut slits in the leg and insert an anchovy, chopped rosemary and lastly a garlic clove.
      The anchovy dissolves and gives a lovely non fishy flavour to the lamb.
      Fish sauce which uses anchovies is the main seasoning in SEA cuisine.
      If you’ve eaten Thai food you’ve had anchovies.

      • Blue
        Posted November 16, 2017 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

        OMG, Mr Frum, that sounds scrumptious !

        I’ll be over next Thursday !


    • Posted November 13, 2017 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      Love, love, love anchovies. Essential part of Provençale cooking, one of my favorite cuisines.

      Fastest climb of the Nose route on El Cap?: Approx. 2 hours and 20 minutes, October 2017, by Jim Reynolds, Brad Gobright

  7. Ken Pidcock
    Posted November 12, 2017 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    It seems to get far more difficult, over time, to find anchovy pizza. I love it.

    • Posted November 12, 2017 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      I am sure you can find the anchovies and put them on.

      • Posted November 13, 2017 at 8:01 am | Permalink

        Homemade pizza is better anyway. I cook ours on a gas grill and they come out great.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 12, 2017 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    I’m not that crazy about anchovies on their own, or on pizza, but a couple smushed anchovies (or anchovy paste) can make a great ingredient in some dishes. I cook broccoli & perciatelli that way, and with a zing of crushed red pepper, that is … well, purty durn tasty, if I do say so myself.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted November 12, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      I agree, but the anchovies must be the best quality salt cured anchovies, say from Spain or someplace like that, not the stuff one finds in tins in stores. The very thought of anchovies used to trigger a gag reflex, but when I tried the salt cured anchovies I could understand their appeal. It’s not so much the flavor itself,which can easily overwhelm, but a bit mixed in dishes such as you list function as umami and round out the flavors of the dish.

      • Posted November 13, 2017 at 8:03 am | Permalink

        When I order Caesar salad, I always ask for “as many anchovies as you are allowed to provide” on it.

        I love those little things.

  9. Posted November 12, 2017 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Coincidentally, I watched a TV show last Sunday entitled, “I’m wearing a big name,” in which a team asks questions to the guest to find out which famous ancestor he descends from.
    This time the guest was a grandson of Leon Trotsky, Esteban Volkov (*1926).

    Volkov lived at the age of 14 years in his grandfather’s house and experienced the first assassination close up. He heard Stalin’s homicide team go through the house in the morning and shoot through the doors. The boy jumped out of bed and hid under it, surviving the assassination slightly injured, injured his leg like his grandfather.

    Three months later, Trotsky was then murdered with an ice ax by the Spaniard Jaime Mercader, who was an agent of the Soviet foreign intelligence service.
    Mercader was convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Since he showed no remorse, he had to serve the sentence completely.

    Volkov became a chemist, specializing in the synthesis of hormones in the Mexican pharmaceutical industry. He was instrumental in the industrial production of birth control pills.

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 12, 2017 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    As to the tragedy of the My Lai massacre, not enough people know the story of Army warrant officer Hugh Thompson, Jr.,, the chopper pilot whose heroic intervention that day saved the lives of many innocent villagers.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted November 12, 2017 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      True and this story did not come out fully until long after. But when American soldiers have massacred hundreds of women and children it is hard for one U.S. soldier to receive credit during this same incident. It is kind of like the few who saved Jews from Hitler’s ovens during that time.

    • Blue mAAs
      Posted November 12, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      O my, Mr Kukec: I appreciate your bringing
      up the courage of Pilot Thompson. Yes, most
      certainly and sadly just like so, so many of
      history’s similar heroes through the years,
      heroic for their coming forward and trying to
      stop crimes, are by the masses … …
      un – remembered.

      Someone earlier this morning on npr stated in
      re long, long ago sexual and anti – Semitic
      assaults that “there, now, is nothing that
      can be done.” Meaning that we “need to move
      on forward,” snd stating that / saying it
      AS IF it is a good thing … … TO FORGET
      the outrages and the atrocities. Ya’ know,
      in order for the rest of us all to be
      “to move on forward.”

      Well, uh – uh. No. We can .do. one thing
      now. In re the outrages and the atrocities
      of long, long ago: we can remember them.
      And to remember the heroes of back then
      during those assaults. And, now ? To try
      to .be. of those “going forward ?” To try
      to emulate the heroes of back then.

      It took in re My Lai and me as well as the
      rest of us back then ? It took, for whatever
      reasons The Hiding / The UN – remembering
      of It All was going on, for Mr Hersch’s story
      to get to me ? TWENTY months’ time.
      The crime Mr Thompson tried to stop ?
      The My Lai Massacre occurred a whole year
      and eight months’ time earlier on 16 March

      Captain Thompson has been gone from us now
      for over a decade. I am thankful, Mr Kukec
      and Randall, that you two remembered him, too.


      • John Frum
        Posted November 12, 2017 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

        Very well put, Blue.

  11. Posted November 12, 2017 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    As with so many things about the Vietnam war, the Mai Lai massacre and the impotence of its prosecution was well described in the recent documentary about the war from Ken Burns.
    I wonder if there will ever be the will to re-open the case and send at least some people to prison for a long time. It is important for the future that there stands at least some promise that war crimes will be punished.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted November 12, 2017 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      Whenever the investigations are internal, there is almost no chance of a result that ends in justice. This is why the results of Mueller’s inquiry are so important.

  12. Posted November 12, 2017 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Tried the optical illusion. After staring for 30 seconds, I glanced over to a bundle of quilt batting on my craft table. The effect was amazing. It seemed to undulate in waves along the edges.

  13. Vaal
    Posted November 12, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Optical illusion: Cool stuff. It left my hot water radiator undulating as I stared at it for several seconds. I’m curious what staring at the optical illusion is actually doing to one’s visual system/brain to produce the after effect?

    Elephant: Wow, it sure looks like the elephant “meant” to rescue the guy. I’m curios what other explanation there might be for that animal’s behavior.

    Anchovies on pizza: Big thumbs up! They often help save otherwise bland vegetarian slices of pizza. I love them with the right combo of ingredients. Though it makes it hard to order a pizza with my wife – even anchovies on one side of the pizza “ruins” it for her. I would have guessed that Prof CC, food traveler that he is, would have been open to the irascible anchovie’s charms.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted November 12, 2017 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      I’m thinking the elephant probably knows more about what’s downstream than the swimmer does.

  14. Cate Plys
    Posted November 12, 2017 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Anchovies should be against the law. And thanks to Jerry for the fabulous video on the Scott expedition’s fossils. And that haunting picture they took of themselves upon reaching the pole.

    • Posted November 13, 2017 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      Quick question: What’s your favorite food?

  15. kieran
    Posted November 13, 2017 at 3:01 am | Permalink

    If you have the time, look up Tom Crean who was part of the discovery expedition, Terra nova and the endurance expedition.

  16. Posted November 13, 2017 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Have you tried white anchovies (boquerones), Jerry? The tinned brown one taste like leathery salt to me, but I love the white ones.

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