Thursday, Hili dialogue

Good morning: we’ve made it to the first of February 2018. Yay! However, it’s also National Cake Pops Day, which are unappealing small spheroids of cake covered with chocolate, served at pretentious restaurants:


In the U.S. it’s also the beginning of Black History Month (also in Canada) and National Bird-Feeding Month. Unfortunately, given the tweet below, it’s also World Hijab Day, whose stated purpose “is to encourage women of all religions and backgrounds to wear and experience the hijab.” In many places, that would be the experience of oppression.

NOTE: An unknown reader, with a return address in Montreal, Canada, sent me a lovely gift of Stilwell’s Humbugs, my very favorite hard candy. (They are delicious: handmade with mint, sugar, and butter; watch the video at the link). Since no name was enclosed with the gift, thank you, and if you identify yourself I’ll respond.

What happened on February 1? First, as the beginning of Black History Month, today’s Google Doodle celebrates Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950), who, though not born on this day, is known as “the father of black history.”  Born the son of former slaves, he worked his way through school as a miner, and then, I’m pleased to say, got both his A.B. and A.M. at The University of Chicago. After teaching, he worked for the NAACP in Washington, D.C., and then embarked on the activities that led to today’s Doodle. From Wikipedia:

Woodson devoted the rest of his life to historical research. He worked to preserve the history of African Americans and accumulated a collection of thousands of artifacts and publications. He noted that African-American contributions “were overlooked, ignored, and even suppressed by the writers of history textbooks and the teachers who use them.” Race prejudice, he concluded, “is merely the logical result of tradition, the inevitable outcome of thorough instruction to the effect that the Negro has never contributed anything to the progress of mankind.”

In 1926, Woodson pioneered the celebration of “Negro History Week”, designated for the second week in February, to coincide with marking the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. However, it was the Black United Students and Black educators at Kent State University that founded Black History Month, on February 1, 1970. Six years later Black History Month was being celebrated all across the country in educational institutions, centers of Black culture and community centers, both great and small, when President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month, during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial. He urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

The Doodle and the man:

On this day in 1793, in the French Revolutionary Wars, France declared war on both the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. On February 1, 1861, Texas seceded from the United States at the beginning of the Civil War; exactly four years later, Abraham Lincoln signed the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude. The Amendment was approved by the required 3/4 of the states on December 6, 1865, and became law 12 days later. On this day in 1884, the first volume of the Oxford English Dictionary (A-Ant) was published. In 1896, Puccini’s opera La Bohème premiered in Turin, conducted by Arturo Toscanini. Here’s one of my favorite arias from that opera “Quando m’en vo”, gorgeously sung by one of my favorite singers, Kiri te Kanawa—a fellow Kiwi. This was performed in 1993 with the Australian Pops Orchestra, John Hopkins conducting, at State Theatre Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne.

On February 1, 1918, Russia adopted the Gregorian calendar. On this day in 1960, four black students staged the first of the famous Greensboro sit-ins at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. They were denied service, more protestors joined them the next day, and the rest is history.  Exactly four years later, the Beatles had their first #1 hit in the US with the song “I want to hold your hand.” On this day in 1968, photographer Eddie Adams took the Pulitzer-Prize-winning photograph of the execution of Viet Cong officer Nguyễn Văn Lém by South Vietnamese Police Chief Nguyễn Ngọc Loan. You can see the photograph at the link, and it still gives me the willies.  On this day in 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Tehran after 15 years of exile, and the theocracy began. Finally, on this day in 2003—and many of you will remember this—the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated during reentry, killing all seven astronauts aboard. The cause was a dislodged piece of insulation that damaged the fuel tank and the wing.

Notables born on this day include John Ford (1894), Clark Gable (1901), Murel Spark (1918), Boris Yeltsin (1931), and Jessica Savitch (1947, drowned 1983). Those who died on February 1 include Mary Shelley (1851), Piet Mondrian (1944), Buster Keaton (1966), Werner Heisenberg (1976), the entire crew of the Columbia (2003: Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, Rick Husband, William McCool, and Ilan Ramon), and Ed Koch (2013)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is again pondering the world. When I asked Malgorzata what the dialogue meant (Andrzej writes them all and sends them to her), she responded:

I waited with trepidation for this question. I have no idea! Hili might be bored and wants Andrzej to think out something interesting to do. Andrzej doesn’t know what would interest Hili and he tries to deflect the request by praising her (she is vain and loves being praised). But this explanation is just a desperate attempt to explain  – not really an explanation.

The dialogue:

Hili: I think we have to think up something.
A: It’s a fine thought. 
In Polish:

Hili: Myślę, że coś trzeba wymyślić.
Ja: To świetny pomysł.


Here’s another optical illusion from Matthew; there is no red in the illustration, just blues and grays:

This pair of pictures befuddled Matthew (see his own tw**t below):

And a coleopteran mystery:

From Grania: who doesn’t like kittens and snow? Be sure to watch the video:

Finally, a serious political tweet; an older hero emulates the younger woman who doffed her hijab at the same spot:


  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    I think I know who sent those – well done!

    … I never commented on the comestible-of-the-day til now, but I have to say, cake pops are nom nom good. If you have a bunch of people over, they go over well too.

    • Posted February 1, 2018 at 6:49 am | Permalink

      WHO SENT THEM? I need to thank them properly. I asked the only people I know in Montreal, who they didn’t send them, and I’m SURE Gad Saad (also in that town) didn’t send them!

    • Linda Calhoun
      Posted February 1, 2018 at 7:17 am | Permalink

      Cake pops are good or bad depending on the quality of the ingredients, just like all food.


    • Posted February 1, 2018 at 7:30 am | Permalink

      I’ve always found the ratio of candy/frosting to cake to be too high.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted February 1, 2018 at 7:55 am | Permalink

        Allow me to elaborate :

        Buying cake pops in a store is one thing.

        But consider : you can make your own. You take that frosting in a can, make a cake, crumble the cake and mash it together with that frosting. Roll into a ball.. or perhaps other shapes!? Jam one of those Wilton white sticks into it.

        Then the fun begins : imagine, a cake pop bar – all the sprinkles, frostings, coatings, nuts, candies (Humbugs anyone?)…

        You can see how it’d be really fun with a big group.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted February 1, 2018 at 8:21 am | Permalink

        Four words :

        Ice cream cake pop

        Burnt sugar and Humbug crumble

        Think of THAT and purr (<—-this is a line from something)…

        • BJ
          Posted February 1, 2018 at 10:03 am | Permalink

          “Think of THAT and purr (<—-this is a line from something)…"

          Is it Catwoman, starring Halle Berry?!?

          • ThyroidPlanet
            Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

            Shall I say it?

            Try a Google…

            Don’t want to put spoiler here…

      • Posted February 1, 2018 at 11:53 am | Permalink


  2. George
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    Who is the fellow Kiwi to Kiri te Kanawa? Is something missing or are either Puccini or Toscanini from New Zealand. Also. “te” not “de”.

    Is PCC(e) getting sick of these people who start to post niggling typos right after the daily Hili dialogue gets posted?

    • Posted February 1, 2018 at 6:58 am | Permalink

      I have been named an Honorary Kiwi, so Dame Kiri is my fellow countryman (countrywoman?). I know it’s “ti”; it was a typo, and though I get annoyed with myself for making them, I welcome corrections. (But they should be emailed as sometimes I fail to see all comments.)

      • George
        Posted February 1, 2018 at 7:06 am | Permalink

        Do you start every day with a haka?

        • mikeyc
          Posted February 1, 2018 at 9:23 am | Permalink

          Best ever? Nope.

          THIS is the best haka ever.

          • mikeyc
            Posted February 1, 2018 at 9:24 am | Permalink

            darn! Will someone tell me why some links embed and other don’t? jeez…

            • George
              Posted February 1, 2018 at 10:05 am | Permalink

              I screw that up all the type and violate Da Roolz! – specifically Rool 16. Best way to make sure that links do not embed is to use this code –

              I added the ” to make sure that would not turn into a link. If I screwed it up, go to the link in the left hand column for Da Roolz!

              • George
                Posted February 1, 2018 at 10:06 am | Permalink

                And the code showed up as LinkText – so just go to Da Roolz!

              • Posted February 1, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

                D’OH! Of course. Thnx

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted February 2, 2018 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

            No this is the best Haka

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted February 1, 2018 at 9:25 am | Permalink

          And yet some people claim humans remain tribal. 🙂

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

          That All Blacks haka was written by Derek Lardelli who, like Kiri Te Kanawa (and me) is from Gisborne. He was at Gisborne Boys’ High School when I was at Gisborne Girls’ High School with his sister, Julianne.

          The other one is at Palmerton North Boys’ High School, which my father attended.

          Small world, though this stuff happens all the time in a country as small as NZ.

          • Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

            Tell me Heather, did women perform the Haka as well? I mean, traditionally (I am sure they -you?- do today).

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted February 2, 2018 at 9:41 am | Permalink

              Traditionally they didn’t – there were other things they did instead. They do now. In fact my mother used to lead the haka when she played hockey for our province, and she’s white and there were plenty of Maori in the team. She was the oldest in the team though, and had the loudest, strongest, voice.

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted February 2, 2018 at 9:42 am | Permalink

              I’ve never lead a haka.

  3. George
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    I have always been bothered by African American History and Black History Month. I feel that it allows the rest of the country to ignore African Americans and the centrality of their experience to the history of this country. Hey – don’t worry about slavery, that is just African American History.

    I guess it would be asking too much for African Americans to have their proper place in American history so we need a new category. Otherwise, it would still be ignored.

    Am I being too critical?

    • Posted February 2, 2018 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      My high school put on _Raisin in the Sun_ and encouraged everyone to do their part. *Add*, not “carve off”.

  4. GBJames
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    I think Matthew might have said he was befuckled by that photo pair.

    • David Coxill
      Posted February 2, 2018 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      Are the photos taken with two different focal length lenses ?

      • David Coxill
        Posted February 2, 2018 at 10:35 am | Permalink

        On second thoughts i think the photographer moved because the car was coming down the hill.

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    I wonder if many remember the old Woolworth’s stores. You could hardly go through any town back in the 50s that did not have a Woolworth. Maybe today we will see if the Trump exit continues at a slow burn or speeds up just a bit as Mr. Obstruction of Justice continues with his trick ponies.

  6. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    There was an interesting piece on the BBC News web-site about Adams photo of the Loan execution a couple of days ago.

  7. rickflick
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    The Illusory-red starfish makes me think my whole existence on Earth may not have been real…exactly.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      I can’t see any starfish, or even any red!

      If you look at the streets from right to left, they look the same. Well, they do to me anyway if I do that.

      • rickflick
        Posted February 1, 2018 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

        I think we split the consensus right down the middle!

      • Posted February 2, 2018 at 11:41 am | Permalink

        I’ve wondered for a long time about human *variability* when it comes to illusions. Do people remember the “random dot stereogram” fad from ~20 years ago? Anyway, I have never been able to see their “3D” effects. A few years after I discovered that about myself, I met a young lady who I spent a lot of time with – and she too was the same way. We both wore distance-vision glasses/contacts, but other than that we couldn’t see (heh) anything else in common that would be relevantly explanatory. So I still wonder.

        In today’s stuff, I do see the roads as different, but I don’t see “starfish” – I see a sprinkling of pink dots on sort of a teal background.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted February 2, 2018 at 11:45 am | Permalink

          I see the roads as different when I look from left to right. When I force myself to look from right to left, I can make myself see they’re the same without much effort.

  8. Posted February 1, 2018 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    No idea what the spine is for in the leaf beetle. Beetles often have a stout projection of cuticle from this location (the mesosternum), but this is unusually large.

  9. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    I found that last video, of the old lady slowly climbing up and removing her hijab, incredibly poignant. Just the still, icy air and sound of the children playing unconcernedly in the background, and this small brave protest. I really despise religious conservatives.

    • Dee
      Posted February 1, 2018 at 8:29 am | Permalink


    • Anna
      Posted February 1, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink


    • darrelle
      Posted February 1, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Yeah. Same here.

    • Posted February 1, 2018 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Powerful, indeed. I hope it goes viral. I bet she remembers what it was like before the Ayatollahs.

    • David Coxill
      Posted February 2, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Agreed ,i wonder long long she has wanted to do that?

  10. Michael Sternberg
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for the link. Learning more of the story makes the matter much more gray than the black and white impression that the single photo gives.

    • Michael Sternberg
      Posted February 1, 2018 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      (This was meant to be in reply to Jonathan Wallace. I swear I hit the reply button below his post.)

  11. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Nice seeing Kent State and 1970 mentioned in regard to something other than four dead in O-hi-o.

  12. Posted February 1, 2018 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I think I understand the source of starfish illusion (the color red is complementary to cyan) but I have no idea what is tricking my eye in the street picture.

  13. Hempenstein
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Crimony! That’s Iran?! Looks more like Boston.

  14. BJ
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I don’t know why, but I just loved that Stilwell’s video. I wonder how many times a day I would burn myself if I worked there.

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted February 1, 2018 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      Fascinating to watch how they’re made and didn’t the guy say he gets burned a lot?

  15. Jenny Haniver
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    I don’t see any difference in the roads.

    I’d bet that Hili is thinking a fine thought that her staff should have some Stilwell’s Polish Toffee Humbugs to determine how they compare to regular Krowki. Having had neither, I think I’d like them both.

    • Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      The lines (such as the curb and tire tracks) do not look parallel picture to picture, but they are because the pictures are identical. I wonder if this is a variant of the cafe wall illusion.

  16. Steve Gerrard
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    My red-green color blindness kicks in, and all I see are vaguely reddish clumps in the sea of cyan. Nothing like a starfish.

  17. Posted February 1, 2018 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for featuring Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. I love her and Renee Fleming:

    (from Madama Butterfly)

  18. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    During the almost 2 years I spent at Kent State in the early 1990s (20 years after the shooting), I learned a great deal about the campus’ long history, but never learned that Black History Month originated there!!


    A friend of mine I knew in the (later 1990s) who worked for Lockheed Martin said that on the very day of the Challenger explosion internal guesses of the cause of the explosion started circulating that turned out to be exactly on target.

    Of course, viva Puccini. It’s awfully hard to pick a favorite from La Boheme.

  19. Dale Franzwa
    Posted February 2, 2018 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    Both Kiri Te Kanawa and Renee Fleming in one post. My night has been made.

    Sirius satellite radio came installed in my new car and now I can listen to both opera or classical music every time I hit the road. Reception is perfect. No fade out (maybe under a bridge) or static to mar the music.

  20. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 2, 2018 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    JUST occurred to our me :

    (Why this phone capitalizes the first word I don’t know)

    Kiri is a New Zealander.

    Toscanini is Italian (Eye Tallyan, if you like)

    … do I smell…. (sniff)… oh what’s it called, I can’t remeber, when a person from one country … does something… with something… from another culture…. hmmm….

  21. Posted February 2, 2018 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    I was writing a short story about the marriage of a far relative of mine, who had been a soprano married to an equally temperamental orchestra conductor. Being satisfied with the start and the development, I couldn’t find however a suitable end to it. So I filed the draft, waiting for inspiration.

    A year or so later, I listened to Mozart’s “Così fan tutte” on a (borrowed, 78 rpm) vinyl record, and was moved by the voice that interpreted Fiordiligi in two splendid arias. What a delightful way to be introduced to Kiri Te Kanawa!

    Need I say that the discovery drove me to find the missing finishing touch of my tale? Quite an epiphany!

    Later on, I also learned to appreciate Reneé Fleming, among many other excellent singers.

  22. Posted February 5, 2018 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Iranian women protesters are heroic. They are going to change the cultural implication of waving white!

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