Sunday: Hili dialogue

It’s Sunday, December 10, 2017, both Ceiling Cat’s Day and National “Have a Bagel” Day; also, by UN decree, it’s International Mountain Day. There’s snow on the ground in Chicago right now, and the daily highs will be either below or just above freezing all this week.

And be aware that EVERYTHING THAT I LIST BELOW (NEXT TWO PARAGRAPHS) HAPPENED ON DECEMBER 11 (TOMORROW), NOT DECEMBER 10 (TODAY). I screwed up yesterday, getting the date wrong (I write these in advance). I can’t be arsed to fix it, for it’s early in the morning and I haven’t had coffee; and I don’t know what I’ll do tomorrow.

Regardless, December 11 was not a day on which much happened. On that day in 1920, there were big depredations in Cork, Ireland, home of Grania. In retaliation for a recent ambush by the IRA, British soldiers burned and looted buildings in Cork, as well as shooting and robbing civilians. On December 11, 1941, Germany and Italy declared war on the U.S. after the U.S. had declared war on Japan several days earlier after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Also on December 10, the U.S. reciprocally declared war on Germany and Italy. On this day in 1972, Apollo 17 became the sixth and final U.S. mission to land spacecraft and men on the Moon.  Finally, it was on December 11, 1990 that demonstrations by students and workers began in Albania, eventually leading to the fall of that communist nation—once, after North Korea, the world’s most secretive state.

Notables born on this day include Hector Berlioz (1803), Robert Koch (1843; see below), Max Born (1882), Amon Goeth (1908; you’ll remember him from “Schindler’s List”), Tom Hayden (1939) and Hailee Steinfeld (1996). Those who died on this day include Sam Cooke (1964) and Bettie Page (2008).

Cooke wrote and performed the greatest civil rights song of our era (“Blowing in the Wind” is a strong contender): “A Change is Gonna Come“. It was released on December 22, 1964, and still moves me immensely. I know I’ve posted it before, but you can’t here it too often. And his version is by far the best of many covers were made later.  Here’s some information from Wikipedia:

Each verse is a different movement, with the horns carrying the first, the strings the second, and the timpani carrying the bridge. The French horn present in the recording was intended to convey a sense of melancholy.

Cooke incorporated his own personal experiences as well into the song, such as encounters in Memphis, Shreveport and Birmingham, to reflect the lives and struggles of all African-Americans of the time. The lines “I don’t know what’s up there / Beyond the sky” could refer to Cooke’s doubt for absolute true justice on earth.  The final verse, in which Cooke pleads for his “brother” to help him, is a metaphor for what Alexander described as “the establishment” The verse continues, ‘But he winds up knocking me / back down on my knees.'”

There’s a Google Doodle today honoring Robert Koch, even though Koch was born on December 11, 1843, not today, December 10. For it was on this day in 1905, one day before his birthday and 4.5 years before he died (May 1910), that Koch was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. What did he do? He proved that tuberculosis, rather than being an inherited disease as was then thought, was actually caused by a bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. As depicted by Paul de Kruif in his great book Microbe Hunters, many guinea pigs died in the service of this work. Koch, the father of modern bacteriology, well deserved his Nobel:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is showing unusual restraint:

A: What are you doing?
Hili: I’m showing patience and waiting until my staff finish their breakfast.
In Polish:
Ja: Co robisz?
Hili: Okazuję cierpliwość i czekam aż służba zje śniadanie.

A tweet from Matthew showing an optical illusion, one of his favorite things (see more about the illusion here). I have to admit, this one is amazing:

Here’s Harry, Matthew’s newest cat:

And an unusual flower:

From reader Charleen, a strutting cat in a tutu:

From reader Barry:

And two tweets from Heather Hastie, whose birthday was yesterday (and I forgot!):

Finally, what species is this bird and why is it getting rubbed with cotton swabs?


  1. Graham Head
    Posted December 10, 2017 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    It’s snowing in south London at the moment. Not in a way that a Chicagoan would recognise but there is definitely white stuff falling out of the sky.

    • Frank Bath
      Posted December 10, 2017 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      It’s a wonder, in some places it’s up to two centimetres thick.

      • George
        Posted December 10, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        I think that is referred to as a dusting of snow.

  2. Posted December 10, 2017 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    All very good. I had to concentrate to ‘force’ the zig-zags to become curved. It did not want to give up the illusion.

  3. Michael Fisher
    Posted December 10, 2017 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    We Brits call them cotton buds. I found out about the bird, but via Google rather than work, so I’ll not openly put up the species – why spoil the fun?


    You ask “Why is it getting rubbed with cotton swabs?” I did some work on that. I think it’s for the mental health of the bird, because this bird species indulges in “allopreening” – one individual preening another. This is relatively uncommon in birds, but this particular species is even more unusual in that it will ‘allopreen’ outside it’s own species. The article I read didn’t give examples, so I don’t know if that means it ‘allopreens’ only with closely similar species or does the birdie in the video attempt to preen its human?

  4. busterggi
    Posted December 10, 2017 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    I’m going to have “On the catwalk” playing in my head all day.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 10, 2017 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    If that Sam Cooke song don’t move ya, ya got no heart, no soul, no fellow feelings for your fellow human beings.

  6. George
    Posted December 10, 2017 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    There is a deep connection between “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “A Change is Gonna Come”. Pops Staples supposedly said “Why did it take a white boy to write our song?” Or something like that. As is the case with all Bob Dylan songs, someone else recorded the best version. In the case of ‘”Blowin’ in the Wind, it was Sam Cooke.

    I LOVE this video.

    “A Change is Gonna Come” followed shortly thereafter. I agree with PCC(e) that it is the greatest civil rights song but I think it should be heard in sequence followed by “People Get Ready” by Curtis Mayfield (1965) and “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye, written by Obie Benson, Al Cleveland and Gaye (1971). Those cover the arc of the 1960s civil rights movement.

    Cooke grew up on the South Side of Chicago near the Staples family. He went to school with Mavis and her brother and sisters and they were in each others lives as were others from her neighborhood like Mahalia Jackson, Lou Rawls and Johnnie Taylor. There was a lot of profound music coming out of Chicago back then – Mayfield was from the west side. While Motown had a great beat, the Chicagoans were more profound with more meaning. Gaye was the only Motown artist who fit into that class. And he was from Washington, DC.

    Coming full circle, Bob Dylan was in love with Mavis Staples and asked her to marry him. She turned him down. Check out Greg Kot’s book “I’ll Take You There”, all about Mavis, her family, the 1960s and much more.

  7. mrclaw69
    Posted December 10, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Hi Jerry. Bird looks like a silvereye (Zosterops lateralis). Found in New Zealand.

  8. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted December 10, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Like Bobby Darin, Sam Cooke started off as a ballad crooner and went towards protest music fairly late in his career.
    I think Cooke accomplished this just a tad better.

    • George
      Posted December 10, 2017 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      Cooke was a gospel singer who went mainstream. Unfortunately, his career was short. He was killed at age 33. “A Change Is Gonna Come” was released after his death.

      I would never call him a crooner.

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted December 10, 2017 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        Songs like “You Send Me” (a big favorite of mine) and “Wonderful World” are crooner territory as I understand the word.

  9. Derek Freyberg
    Posted December 10, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    The illusion paper is free for a full read for people who are interested; here’s a link to a pdf:

  10. Heather Hastie
    Posted December 10, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    10 December is International Human Rights day. I really like the idea that I share my birthday with that.

    • JohnnieCanuck
      Posted December 10, 2017 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Hippy Bird Day, Heather!

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted December 10, 2017 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

        Thanks you!

    • Taskin
      Posted December 10, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Happy birthday Heather!

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted December 10, 2017 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

        Thanks so much!

  11. Barbara Radcliffe
    Posted December 10, 2017 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    It’s 11 December here in OZ (and in NZ) so the date and happenings are entirely appropriate!

  12. Teresa Carson
    Posted December 10, 2017 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Love, love, love Sam Cooke! What a beautiful voice.

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