Thursday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on a wet and warm Thursday, at least in Chicago, where it’s predicted to reach an unusual high of 60° F (16° C) today—something that happens in only one out of five years.  It’s January 11, 2018: National Hot Toddy Day,  good winter drink if you have a cold; one recipe is here. In Japan, it’s a food and drink holiday: Kagami Biraki, which can refer to either sake or mochi.

On this day in 532, the Nika riots took place in Constantinople, in which supporters of different chariot teams in the Hippodrome—the Blues and the Greens—began fighting. Talk about your soccer brawls: this one destroyed half the city and left tens of thousands dead! On this day in 630, according to legend, the prophet Muhammad and his army conquered Mecca. On January 11, 1787, William Herschel (his last name is the name of Brian Cox’s female cat) discovered two moons of Uranus: Titania and Oberon.  In 1908, the Grand Canyon National Monument was created, and in 1922 insulin was first used to treat human diabetes. The patient, 14 year old Leonard Thompson in Toronto, suffered an allergic reaction, but a subsequent purified injection 12 days later was successful. Thompson lived 14 more years, dying of pneumonia at 27.  Macleod and Banting, but not Best, got the Nobel Prize for this, but Banting shared his dosh with Best; read about the history and controversy here.  On this day in 1935, Amelia Earhart became the first person (not just the first woman) to fly solo from Hawaii to California. On November 11, 1946, Enver Hoxha declared the existence of the People’s Republic of Albania with himself as head of state. He served until he died 19 years later; for most of that time Albania was nearly as reclusive a state as North Korea (but not as malevolent).  On this day in 1964, Luther Terry, Surgeon General of the U.S. (it might be Dr. Oz in three years!) published the famous report Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States, claiming that smoking produced severe health risks, including cancer. This was the formal beginning of the anti-smoking movement in the U.S.  On this day in 1972, East Pakistan renamed itself Bangladesh, and a year later the American League adopted the designated hitter position in baseball. I don’t feel strongly about it, but I still think the pitcher, lame as he might be, should be forced to take a turn at bat.

Notables born on this day include Nicolas Steno (1638), Alexander Hamilton (1755), Aldo Leopold (1887), geneticist Calvin Bridges (1889, one of my science heroes), Alan Paton (1903), Caroll Shelby (1923), and Naomi Judd (1946). Those who fell asleep on January 11 include Francis Scott Key (1843), Theodor Schwann (1882), Thomas Hardy (1928), Emanuel Lasker (1941), Alberto Giacometti (1966),  Isidor Rabi (1988), and Edmund Hillary (2008).

Here are a few pictures of Hardy-ana I took in Dorset. The first is his lovely childhood home, the second his pet graveyard behind his later and fancier house, showing tombstones of two of his cats (he was a big ailurophile) and the last an autograph manuscript of Tess:

The people were little in those days! Me in the doorway:

Two cats’ graves: Kitsey and Snowdove. (Hardy was also a stonecutter and made these gravestones himself.):

Tess in Hardy’s own hand (in a local museum):

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Cyrus are playing Sherlock Holmes and Watson in “His Last Bow”, for Hili is referring to current history but poor dim Cyrus takes her literally:

Cyrus: A wind of history is blowing outside the window.
Hili: Lucky that the windows are closed.
In Polish:
Cyrus: Za oknem wieje wiatr historii.
Hili: Dobrze, że okna są zamknięte.

Matthew sent a tweet showing an unholy tryst. Actually, the fox was going after the owl, but go to the link in the tweet to see more videos:

Heather Hastie found a duck who wants to be a kitten:

A tweet found by Grania:

Grania also found a tw**t showing a dubious benefit of Twitter:


  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 11, 2018 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    I agree about the pitcher hitting in baseball. In the American league the coaches should get half pay. Babe Ruth was a very good pitcher – sure don’t want him in the line up.

    On another low note in American politics, as if it could get any lower, Joe Arpoia, the pardoned cop in Arizona is now running for Senate. Also pushing the Obama birther lie. Way to go, moron Joe.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 11, 2018 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      I might not be the first guy to come to mind when you think “traditionalist,” but I’m against the DH, aluminum bats, and playing a ballgame on anything but green grass under the good lord’s sunshine — way the Cubs used to do in the good old days before they put lights up at Wrigley.

      • rickflick
        Posted January 11, 2018 at 10:07 am | Permalink

        We’ll try to get you some time in Mr. Peabody’s WayBack machine.

    • Posted January 11, 2018 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      If Ruth was that good as a babe, she must have been amazing as an adult! 🙂

  2. Posted January 11, 2018 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading Tess and also watching the excellent Polanksi movie of it (1979). (I think every young male of my cohort had a massive crush on Nastassja Kinski after seeing the Avedon photo of her.

  3. David Coxill
    Posted January 11, 2018 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Remember seeing a TV Play about the discovery of Insulin ,sometime in the mid 1970’s .
    Comet Amongst the Stars it was called .

  4. rickflick
    Posted January 11, 2018 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    The doorway in Hardy’s childhood home reminds me of the British comedy series Doc Martin. In the show the doc (played by Martin Clunes, who is 6′ 3″) is constantly stooping and occasionally bumping his head as he navigates his humble vintage home in Portwenn, to considerable comic effect.

  5. Posted January 11, 2018 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    100th birthday of ‘Agent 24’ the late Gunnar Sønsteby (1918-2012) A Great Norwegian!

  6. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted January 11, 2018 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    In honor of the astronomical discovery of Titania and Oberon I post this.

    (But I’m tempted to add that Puck might be saying to Oberon ‘I can see Uranus’.)

  7. rebscar
    Posted January 11, 2018 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m disappointed that you didn’t mention that Alice Paul was born today. She was a great suffragist.

  8. pdx1jtj
    Posted January 11, 2018 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Minor quibble:
    “served as the head of state of Albania from 1944 until his death in 1985”

  9. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 11, 2018 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    “On this day in 532, the Nika riots took place in Constantinople, in which supporters of different chariot teams in the Hippodrome—the Blues and the Greens—began fighting. Talk about your soccer brawls: this one destroyed half the city and left tens of thousands dead!”

    As a Brit, I’m both impressed and chagrined. I thought *we* had the best soccer hooligans in the universe. 8-(


  10. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 11, 2018 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    I always liked Hardy, probably more for his sense of countryside and his gift for conveying it, than for his actual characters. (Doubtless the fact that I’d lived in west Hampshire on the fringes of Wessex also had something to do with that).

    And also we didn’t get him rammed down our throats at school like Dickens.

    And also, of course, Hardy was pretty much an agnostic and not complimentary towards the established church, which I (as a teenager recently escaped from Sunday School) found very congenial.


  11. Posted January 11, 2018 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Might have mixed up Hili and Cyrus there, Prof.

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 1:40 am | Permalink

      Was gonna suggest that…thought better of it… 😀

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