Saturday: Hili dialogue

Good morning from sunny and warm Puebla, Mexico. It’s Saturday, November 18, 2017. It’s National Apple Cider Day, but I’m in Mexico and will have a libation made from the heart of the blue agave (they have a free tequila bar in the speakers’ Green Room, but more on that later!). It’s also “Married to a Scorpio Support Day,” one of many humorous days created by actor Thomas Roy.

I’ll have a post on breakfast food this morning, but reports on the talks at the Cidudad de Las Ideas meeting (and more food) will  come later. Posting will be light for the next couple days as the meetings last all day.

We have a Google Doodle in Mexico today, honoring the birthday in 1917 of Pedro Infante, a famous Mexican actor and singer. He died at just 39 while piloting a converted bomber that crashed in San Diego (aviation was one of his hobbies). Click on the screenshot below to go to the Doodle, which shows six aspects of his life:

On November 18, 1872, suffragette Susan B. Anthony and 14 of her women activists were arrested for voting in the U.S. Presidential election of 1872.  On this day in 1883, U.S. and Canadian railroads agreed on the five standard continental time zones, standardizing what had been a confusing farrago of local times.  On this day in 1928, Walt Disney’s studios released the famous animated cartoon Steamboat Willie, the first fully synchronized sound cartoon.  It features Mickey and his squeeze Minnie, and today is considered by the Disney corporation to be Mickey Mouse’s birthday.

Here’s the cartoon: Minnie shows up at 3:04:

On this day in 1963, the first push-button telephone went into service. On November 18, 1978, the infamous murder-suicide of the Peoples Temple followers took place, when 918 people (including over 270 children) died from drinking cyanide-containing Kool-Aid. Finally on this day in 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled, in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, that the ban on same-sex marriage was illegal, making the state the first in the U.S. to recognize a right of same-sex marriage.

Notables born on this day include Louis Daguerre (1787), Asa Gray (1810, an early supporter of Darwin, but also an accommodationist), W. S. Gilbert (1836), and Chloë Sevigny (1974). Those who crossed the Styx on this day include Robin Hood (1247 in one version), Chester A. Arthur (1886), Marcel Proust (1922), Niels Bohr (1962), Jim Jones (1978; see above), Cab Calloway (1994), Paul Bowles (1999), and Doug Sahm (1999).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is showing her powers of olfaction. I asked about whose urine Hili was sniffing, and got this reply from Malgorzata:

Most probably it’s not human but some bigger wild cat. Once, many years ago, we had an animal in the garden which really looked like a little lynx! I have no idea what it was. And, of course, I have no idea what animal left the scent Hili thought belonged to a “higher being”. Hili does not think that humans are higher beings. They belong in the servant class.

A: What does it smell of?
Hili: I don’t know, it smells like urine of a higher being.
In Polish:
Ja: Czym to pachnie?
Hili: Nie wiem, pachnie jak mocz istoty wyższej.

Here’s a picture of Chicago at sunset I took from my crib a day before I left town. I hear it’s snowed there now, but I haven’t checked.


A tweet from Heather Hastie. We’ve had whip scorpions on this site before, but I never mentioned that they’re water repellant (I didn’t know!):

. . . and perhaps my favorite bird in the world, one that I’ll likely never see in the feathers:

A tweet from reader Jiten reminds us that winter is coming in the northern hemisphere, so help out those cold strays!

Finally, a lovely tweet from Canadian science presenter Ziya Tong. Look how gently the cat pets the bird!


  1. sensorrhea
    Posted November 18, 2017 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Steamboat Willy is the poster child for the corruption of limited copyright. Every time it’s about to allow Mickey into the public domain Congress coincidentally extends the duration of copyright to protect Disney.

  2. Posted November 18, 2017 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    I can not stop seeing how carefully and gently the cat touches the bird. Incredible-

  3. darrelle
    Posted November 18, 2017 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    I’m not fooled by that cat. It’s just testing to see if the bird is on the menu or not.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted November 18, 2017 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      The bird is on a menu for sure. Felix is just trying to work out whose menu.

  4. colnago80
    Posted November 18, 2017 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    OT but Prof. Ceiling Cat may be interested in the attached article showing another exchange of fire in the ongoing attempt of creationists to undermine evolution.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted November 18, 2017 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      Looks like a big battle going on in Wikipedia on this as well.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted November 18, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      Here’s Bechly’s twitter feed For those who keep up with the ID controversy, lots of info. What I find interesting is to see various aspects of ID brought out this way, in a twitter feed, which, because of its kind of stream-of-consciousness structure, and the fact that it originates with the subject of the controversy, fronts certain pseudo-information which I wouldn’t notice otherwise, such as the book about water and ID that Bechly tweets about.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted November 18, 2017 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      The German Wiki is still up & running:

      IMO [and only IMO] there is something very fishy about Günther Bechly – there is a big lie somewhere…

      His story about conversion to ID doesn’t make sense – he claims he converted because certain aspects of flagellum evolution can’t be resolved under Darwinian evolution & yet he hasn’t come out since & stated exactly what the problems are. I am wondering if he knew he was going to be ‘let go’ from his Stuttgart museum job for rather unsavoury reasons NOT to do with ID & Bechley decided to make an announcement that he’s now an ID proponent so he’d have a job to go to with the ID charlatans.

      Perhaps the evidence against him for ‘x’ was circumstantial so the Museum got rid & kept quiet – Günther would struggle to get re-employed in such a tight, specialised community once the rumour of doing ‘x’ was out there

      Read this post by Matthew Cobb about a fossil for sale while Bechley was still working at Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde, Stuttgart

      Bechley has been playing the victim card & not producing evidence FOR ID since he ‘converted’ & also I note that he’s still publishing conventional papers [most recent 2016]. Here is his most recent mention at WEIT:

  5. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted November 18, 2017 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Thank you for not appropriating the culture of Mexico by using the word “Hola” like you did the other day. <— satirical comment.

    Satire switched off now.

    Puebla reminds me of Pueblo, Colorado.,_Colorado

    How am I reminded of Pueblo, CO? I think it’s a sign that I watched WAY too much TV as a child – the TV ads I think typically have a refrain “Send check or money order to Amazing Gadgets, Inc., Pueblo, Colorado ….”

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted November 18, 2017 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      Only the one in Mexico has about 3 million more population.

  6. Posted November 18, 2017 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    “Those who crossed the Styx on this day include…”

    Thanks, this is so much better than “Fell asleep”.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted November 18, 2017 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      I agree!

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted November 18, 2017 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        Me too.

        I don’t liked ‘passed’ much either. Passed what? Slow traffic? Kidney stones? ‘Passed away’ – OK. Though to me that implies a peaceful or at least non-sudden death and it sounds bizarre if the deceased was e.g. shot in a massacre or run over by a train.


        • Heather Hastie
          Posted November 18, 2017 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

          I really HATE passed on (especially), passed over, passed away, or any other iteration. To me they’re fingernails on the blackboard. Even worse than Thoughts and Prayers!

        • ploubere
          Posted November 18, 2017 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

          Brings to mind the dead parrot sketch by Monty Python.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted November 18, 2017 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      Seems safe to say that pretty much everyone who ever lived fell asleep on pretty much every day of the year, with the possible exception of Dec 31.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted November 18, 2017 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        Or Feb 29th?

  7. clarkia
    Posted November 18, 2017 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Hey! Mickey swings a cat by the tail at 5:12!

  8. Posted November 18, 2017 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Great idea with the heating pad. It’s something I have but seldom use. Once I move to new digs on ground floor, I may give it a try. And hope it doesn’t get stolen.

    • danstarfish
      Posted November 18, 2017 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      I use a heating pad indoors for my cats. One of them just adores the heating pad

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted November 18, 2017 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      Waterproof it and/ or use it on an RCD circuit. Actually, “and”, not “or”.

  9. Ken Phelps
    Posted November 18, 2017 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    One can’t help but think there is an over-groomed horde out there somewhere, waiting to be triggered by Steamboat Willie.

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

    Question about outside shelters for stray cats:

    I’ve wanted for years to build a nice outside shelter for the various strays that wander near my home, but I’ve never been able to discern a good way to deter other animals from using the Cat Hotel. I can’t have raccoons and other animals getting comfy in the shelter, as this will lead to nothing but fights and chaos. Does anybody have any suggestions for how to build a shelter exclusively for cats, AKA the high society of the animals kingdom?

    • rickflick
      Posted November 18, 2017 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      That’s an interesting question. My father built a flap door in our basement window which was accessible on the inside via a narrow board. It was no problem for our cats but dogs were not able to come in or out.

      What you need is a little different though. You need to filter our raccoons, squirrels, weasels, etc. Not just dogs. What is it that separates cats from the other small animals? The only thing I can think of that might work is to use the inherent tendency of cats to occupy small boxes. Cat’s would want to curl up in the box while other animals would ignore it. With a little ingenuity, you could rig the occupied box(perhaps by a weight sensor) to open the shelter door. Good luck.

      • BJ
        Posted November 18, 2017 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        Interesting idea with the box, but I have a feeling squirrels, mice, and other smaller critters would still go in and out. I’d like to keep it as clean as possible for the cats.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted November 18, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      I don’t know about raccoons, but there’s a lot of material on YouTube about making racoon-proof feeding tables for cats

      The basic idea is cats can jump a lot higher so position your cattery high up & away from walls, trees etc. that a racoon can scale. You’d need a non-slip landing area for the cat – carpet or something

      Here’s an example, but there’s many others on YT & Pinterest:

      • BJ
        Posted November 18, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        This actually gives me an excellent idea: I could do as you said and make the entrance high up on a platform, and then make it unscalable for clawed critters with a widening, slippery surface coming up from the support pole to directly underneath the platform.

        This will, of course, limit the size of the shelter.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted November 18, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      Here is what I can tell you from experience. We kept one of our cats in the garage and had a small cat door in a garage door. So the cat was outside but also lived in the garage. We had this set up with the cat for about 5 years. We never had a problem with other animals coming into the garage. I believe they smell the cat and they also know that the garage is where humans might be. Right outside we had raccoons, lots of squirrels and other animals. Our garage was insulated very well and we could heat it in winter with an electric heater.

      Also, most cat doors you purchase come with a slide in panel so if you want, you can lock the pet in or out any time you want with the panel.

      • BJ
        Posted November 18, 2017 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the info. Unfortunately, I doubt any of it would work for my purposes. I can’t use my garage as it’s very large and I have two workbenches and a storage room in there. It’s not like many garages, which are small and used solely for cars and the storage of less important items. I wish I had a space that big and directly connected to the house that I could use for this project, but, alas, I do not.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted November 18, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

          Well, anyway for what it’s worth. The small size cat doors would not allow raccoons to go thru them. And any place where cats are staying, the mice just won’t be there as they are not stupid. My biggest problem with a part outside cat was coyotes. If they get a shot at the cat it is dead.

          • BJ
            Posted November 18, 2017 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

            “And any place where cats are staying, the mice just won’t be there as they are not stupid.”

            Excellent point! This thread has given me much to consider. I have a feeling this is going to look less like a shelter and more like a Rube Goldberg contraption when I’m finished.

  11. E.A. Blair
    Posted November 18, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    The poisoned drink served at Jonestown was not Kool-Aid®, but Flavor-Aid®. The marketing departments at General Foods and Kraft have been po’ed about that for thirty-nine years. However, it’s probably too late to do anything about it.

  12. Nancy Steisslinger
    Posted November 19, 2017 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    The astronaut Alan Shepard was born on Nov. 18, 1923.

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