Monday: Hili dialogue

By the time you read this, on Monday, November 20, 2017, I’ll be heading to the Puebla airport for a flight to Houston, then back to Chicago. It was a great meeting, and at the last minute Andrés Roemer, organizer of the conference, suggested, to leaven the talks with more interaction, that I replace my lecture with a conversation. Since I wasn’t keen anyway on delivering a ten-minute talk on “ways of knowing” with any hope of getting my points across, I immediately agreed, for I love the spontaneous give-and-take of conversation as opposed to the dogmatism of a lecture. I was, however, a bit nervous about giving a last-minute presentation to an audience of several thousand. Fortunately, Andrés suggested I talk discuss whatever I wanted to lecture about with Isabel Behncke, a Chilean primatologist who studies bonobos (see her TED talk on bonobos here).

Isabel and I had about 20 minutes to organize a “conversation”, so Isabel and I (who had never met before) planned our discussion right up to the time we went onstage, even in the makeup room. It turned out that she was a great interviewer, asked very good questions, and I managed, to my surprise, to say everything I wanted to say in the planned talk simply by answering Isabel’s questions. From now on I’m favoring a conversational rather than a lecture format. I think the audience likes it better, too, or at least they seemed to.

Here we are talking about our incipient discussion as Isabel was getting made up (men aren’t offered the option of makeup; is that sexist?)

Our conversation, I’m told, will soon be posted on YouTube, as well as a short interview with yours truly on Facebook, which I’ll mention when they’re available.

Below: Isabel on right, another attendee, Davin, on the left, after the two discussants had downed several post-discussion tequilas and I, at least, was pleasantly borracho. (I don’t ever drink before a talk.) Isabel is holding a caricature drawn by the same guy who did mine, also including a monkey but adding a big gorilla.

It’s National Peanut Butter Fudge Day, which is okay, but I prefer chocolate. Here in Mexico, it’s National Revolution Day, marking the overthrow of Porfirio Díaz in 1910.

On November 10, 1789, New Jersey became the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights, which of course includes my favorite Amendment, the First.  On this day in 1805, Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, opened in Vienna. Exactly 15 years later, this happened (from Wikipedia):

An 80-ton sperm whale attacks the Essex (a whaling ship from Nantucket, Massachusetts) 2,000 miles from the western coast of South America. (Herman Melville’s 1851 novel Moby-Dick is in part inspired by this story.)

On this day in 1945, the Nuremberg trials began, with 24 Nazi war criminals in the dock. All but five were convicted. Finally, on November 20, 1985, Microsoft Windows 1.0 was released, though I’ve never used anything but a Mac.

Notables born on this day include Karl von Frisch (1886), Robert F. Kennedy (1925) and Duane Allman (1946, died in a motorcycle accident in 1971). Those who became bereft of life include Leo Tolstoy (1910), Trofim Lysenko (1976),  Giorgio de Chirico (1978; cat painting not found), and Charles Manson (2017).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is showing signs of her book reading:

Hili: Logic is like a tongue.
A: In what sense?
Hili: It’s taking care of the hygiene of thoughts.
In Polish:
Hili: Logika jest jak język.
Ja: W jakim sensie?
Hili: Dba o higienę myśli.

Some tweets sent by Matthew Cobb. The tag a cat should leave with its “gift”:

Neandertal character studies. Matthew also recommends Björklund’s Facebook page.

This is likely an adult because some species of pygmy possum in Australia do indeed weigh 10 grams (a third of an ounce) when full grown:

and a cat bicycling in its dreams (be sure to watch the video):

And watch this preview of the “Insecta” movie:


  1. Posted November 20, 2017 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    I have a copy of Windows 1.o if you would like to try it. :o)

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 20, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      Windows 1.0 was as dire as you could ever imagine it to be.

      Especially when people tried to run it on low-end 386SX-20’s with small hard drives and insufficient RAM. Like the one my father bought. 😦


  2. Simon Hayward
    Posted November 20, 2017 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Monday….I assume

    • BobTerrace
      Posted November 20, 2017 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      Monday, Monday, can´t trust that day
      Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way
      Oh Monday mornin´ you gave me no warnin´ of what was to be
      Oh Monday, Monday, how could you leave and not take me

    • Posted November 20, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      I fixed it. Everybody’s a critic!

  3. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted November 20, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    What do you call a test to check if people are paying attention?

  4. GBJames
    Posted November 20, 2017 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    The Neandertal character studies are great!

    • Posted November 20, 2017 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      For me, that is a little wishful thinking, which is expressed in the pictures: Now that we know that our ancestors mated with the Neanderthals and we even carry the genes of them, we prefer the idea, they would have looked nice and not as wild and rude as in most of the pictures shown.

      • Craw
        Posted November 20, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

        Yeah. My reaction is, aren’t you anthropomorphising?

        I’m serious. They were a form of human being of course, but this is speculating waaaaaaay beyond evidence. It closes off perspectives I think rather than opens them.

        • GBJames
          Posted November 20, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          How do you anthropomorphize human beings? You’re making my brain hurt.

      • GBJames
        Posted November 20, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

        Why? I don’t see anything in these images that is inconsistent with what we know about the Neandertals.

        • Posted November 20, 2017 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

          Unfortunately, the Neanderthals could not take a selfie, so we’ll probably never know what they really looked like.

          On the other hand, you may be right, and maybe it’s time to use such creative approaches to bridge the supposed gap between us and them, to recognize that the opposites were not as big as the usual ugly-looking images have always suggested.

  5. Posted November 20, 2017 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    “By the time you read this, on Sunday February 20, 2017”

    You can do time travels, back in past? – wow!

  6. Historian
    Posted November 20, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Before it disappears, I would like to alert all of you to a 10 minute video on the New York Times site entitled “Raising Doubts about Evolution.” It deals with creeping creationism in our schools. I found this video disturbing because it seemed to me to be striving for “balance” in that about half of it was devoted to the creationists, including spokesmen for the Discovery Institute. Ken Miller was the main spokesman for evolution. My feeling is that many viewers of this video will leave with the impression that creationism is as valid as evolution. Others may have a different impression of it, but I didn’t like it.

    The video url is:

    Note: this comment may be a duplicate. if so, I apologize. I tried to post it a few minutes ago, but the effort seemingly failed.

    • GBJames
      Posted November 20, 2017 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      The URL does not appear in your comment, Historian. Just “Document Not Found”.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted November 20, 2017 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        It works as you did it. I simply went over to the NEW TIMES and played it there as well. As stated above, this is nothing but a rehash of the already completed in the courts, argument concerning ID and creationism. It is pure crap and the New York Times should be ashamed for putting stuff like this out, directly from the Discovery Institute. They are really pushing it in Louisiana, surprise surprise. The NYTs should be referred to the Dover case, 2005 and get this stuff out of their journalism. They seem to think because it give brief reference to Darwin and a couple of other facts, such as 98% of scientist believe in evolution then it is okay to cover this manure on their site.

    • Historian
      Posted November 20, 2017 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      I don’t know why the url doesn’t show up, but if you go the NYT site you can find the video.

      But, here’s the URL again.

      • Historian
        Posted November 20, 2017 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        I give up. I don’t know why WordPress doesn’t recognize the URL. But, as of this moment, the video is on the home page of they NYT.

      • GBJames
        Posted November 20, 2017 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        You can always make it available like this.

  7. Posted November 20, 2017 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Bonobos should be interesting to an expert in speciation, like you.

    • Posted November 20, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      Yes, we talked about that over tequila. Apparently it was an allopatric event as the two chimp species are separated by the Congo River, which they can’t cross, and there are ecological differences as well that may have promoted divergence. I forgot to ask whether if an errant chimp that crossed the river could hybridize with the other species and produce fertile offspring. If it could, I’d be a bit dubious about saying there were two chimp species, even though I know every primatologist in the world would lambaste me.

  8. Posted November 20, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    So PCC(E) has a TARDIS. Good to know. XD

  9. Posted November 20, 2017 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    the overthrow of Porfirio Díaz

    I remember that. It went into the stands allowing two runners to score.

  10. Posted November 20, 2017 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Jerry is en route; day/date now corrected.


  11. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted November 20, 2017 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Beethoven’s Fidelio is considered by many to be an early feminist opera.

    It’s also notable for supplying the password to the mansion in the movie “Eyes Wide Shut”.


    I think I am more down with the phrase “ways of knowing with certainty” than “ways of knowing”, since there are after all reasons for adopting tentative working hypotheses than stand a modest chance of being wrong.

  12. Posted November 20, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    I find the so-called “balanced reporting” on topics like evolution and climate change really irritating like the rest of you. However, this seems the right thing to do in many contexts. After all, there is plenty of nature programming that treats evolution as truth, as it should. Perhaps news reporters should simply make sure the audience knows the majority opinion among people who ought to know: biologists for evolution and climate scientists for global warming. They just need to make sure the audience doesn’t come away with the idea that the support for both sides is roughly equal. I believe some reporters do follow this practice already.

  13. Vaal
    Posted November 20, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    “National Peanut Butter Fudge Day”?

    I’d been presuming that the proliferation of these designated “days” on WEIT were a gag.
    Am I wrong? Are all these things actually…things?

    Who in the world is responsible for making up “it’s National X day?”

    Haven’t we run out of calendar days for all these interest groups? I’m so confused….

    • Posted November 20, 2017 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      These are real proclaimed days that you can find on the Foodimentary website. Though some are quite contrived, someone’s proclaimed all of them, and many are well known.

      • Vaal
        Posted November 20, 2017 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        Wow. Ok, thanks Jerry. I’m enlightened.
        It seems I’ve been ignoring my civic duty on many food fronts.

        Also, I better get my bid in for National Grilled Peanut Butter And Banana Sandwich Day, before the spot is taken!

  14. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 20, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Off topic just a bit but I see we do have a second report against Al Franken, Senator from Minn. I do not see this second report as much and may be someone looking for attention. I say this because sexual harassment almost never includes the following: Done in a very public event at the state fair with a crowd all around? Done right in front of your husband, with him taking the picture. No, I think this one does not pass the smell test and looks more like a person seeking attention.

    • Dale Franzwa
      Posted November 21, 2017 at 12:20 am | Permalink

      Good grief. Have you heard the news? Now it’s Charlie Rose. I suspect Jerry will hear about it when he gets home. How many famous men turn out to be sexual predators? Quite discouraging.

  15. nurnord
    Posted November 21, 2017 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    Yep, and Royal Mail doesn’t give a shit half the time, either. Here’s the original.….0…1ac.1.64.img..0.17.1190….0.Q-Cd5tWclT0#imgrc=Jh3Yu4vjOpFO1M:

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