Wednesday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on another snowy day: Wednesday, February 7, 2018. It’s National Fettuccine Alfredo Day, one of my favorite forms of pasta. And it’s snowing again in Chicago—only lightly today, but we’ll have snow on Friday and Saturday, too.

On this day in 1497, the actual Bonfire of the Vanities took place in Florence, during which supporters of Girolamo Savonarola burned cosmetics, art, and books. I had no idea Tom Wolfe’s novel was named after a real incident. On this day in 1898, Émile Zola began his libel trial for publishing this:

It was a letter to the French President accusing the French Army of anti-Semitism and obstruction of justice for having convicted Alfred Dreyfus of treason and sentencing him to life imprisonment. Zola’s intention was to be tried for libel so that new exculpatory evidence supporting Dreyfus could be publicized. Zola was convicted, and fled to England rather than go to jail.  Returning to France within a year, Zola was offered by the new government a choice between a pardon and a re-trial; he chose the pardon, which meant that his legal guilt remained but he was allowed to go free.  Dreyfus was fully exonerated in 1906.

On February 7, 1940, Pinocchio, Walt Disney’s second full-length animated film, was released (do you know the first one?). On this day in 1949, Joe DiMaggio became the first baseball player to get a $100,000 contract: the Yankees realized how much attendance had dropped when he was absent serving in WWII.  On this day in 1964, two things happened: the Beatles landed in New York for their first US tour, and Cassius Clay converted to Islam, taking the name Muhammad Ali. In 1984, Astronauts Bruce McCandless II and Robert Stewart made the first untethered space walk using the “Manned Maneuvering Unit.” On November 7, 1986, President Jean-Claude Duvalier, a corrupt git, fled Haiti, ending 28 years of family rule.  Finally—and this is amazing—it was only five years ago on this day that the US state of Mississippi officially “certified” the Thirteenth Amendment, making it the last state to approve the abolition of slavery. (It had, of course, been abolished long before, as adoption of an amendment requires only 3/4 of the states.)

Notables born on this day include Henry Fuseli, a painter of grotesque scenes (1741), Charles Dickens (1812), Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867), G. H. Hardy (1877), Sinclair Lewis (1885), banjo player and singer Dock Boggs (1898; see below), and writer and bank wrecker Matt Ridley (1958).

Those who expired on November 7 include Anne Morrow Lindbergh (2001), and Blossom Dearie (2009).

Below is a recording by Dock Boggs (died 1971); I have several of his songs on various collections of folk music. He was a weird-looking guy and sang weird songs, of which this is one. Even his name was weird. But, as Wikipedia notes,

[Boggs] is considered a unique combination of Appalachian folk music and African-American blues. Contemporary folk musicians and performers consider him a seminal figure, at least in part because of the appearance of two of his recordings from the 1920s, “Sugar Baby” and “Country Blues”, on Harry Smith’s 1951 collection.

Here’s “Sugar Baby”:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is being her usual solipsistic self. But she’s cute.

Hili: I have a dream.
A: Me too.
Hili: Stop thinking about your dreams. Fullfil mine.

In Polish:

Hili: Mam marzenie.
Ja: Ja też.
Hili: Przestań myśleć o twoich marzeniach, zrealizuj moje.

Here’s a swell video tweet; I was surprised that the BBC allows such language, but I’m told that “The Mash Report” is a late-night comedy show. Still, no non-cable US television station would dare use such language—and so much the worse for us:

From Matthew, showing that cats are gases, expanding to fill the space allotted:

The main Google searches for “why do academics. . .?”:

Another from Matthew. I think I’ve put this up before, but it’s so freaking adorable that I’ll do it again:

And who would have thought that turtles could be so fast?

From Grania. What kind of animal is that?

Also from Grania, a swell reflection photo:

And yesterday’s magnificent touchdown of two SpaceX boosters—perfectly synchromized. An amazing feat, and I’ll have more on this later.

Finally, we have a tweet from AstroSam, one of my great loves. Grania explains it:

The space car has the words DON’T PANIC on it, which is a reference to Douglas Adams Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe.

She is referencing another part of the book which states that to be a good hitchhiker you always need to know where your towel is, and that you will be considered a hoopy frood (cool guy) for doing so.


  1. George
    Posted February 7, 2018 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    The first Disney animated feature was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. And anyone who questions Snows choice to live with seven small men can f*ck off.

    • W.Benson
      Posted February 7, 2018 at 7:28 am | Permalink


    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted February 7, 2018 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      “Pinochio” was far less profitable because it was so much more technologically innovative and as such more expensive.

      It innovated the multi-plane camera in which 4 layers of animation were photographed simultaneously each one with a separate depth of field.

      Disney’s 3rd and 4th film, “Fantasia” and “Bambi” also barely broke even, and then finally with “Cinderella” WD had a hit as major as “Snow White’

      • rickflick
        Posted February 7, 2018 at 10:22 am | Permalink

        Thanks for the history of the technology. It’s fascinating to see how these things were done.

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 7, 2018 at 6:37 am | Permalink


    The language kids use these days.


    What the world needs now
    Is swell – moar swell

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 7, 2018 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    I don’t recall ever seeing a British bird give the figure in that way?

    Today is also National Periodic Table day, I believe.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted February 7, 2018 at 6:59 am | Permalink

      Oh…too early – The Finger, The Finger

    • Posted February 7, 2018 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      And I loved the phrase “the clitterati”. Good thing I was not drinking something just then.

      • Glenda Palmer
        Posted February 7, 2018 at 12:30 pm | Permalink


      • Heather Hastie
        Posted February 7, 2018 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        You should see some of the negative respones on Twi++er to that (absolutely brilliant) clip.

        In fact I’m so worked up about them, I’m going to have to write about it on my own site instead of here I think.

        • darrelle
          Posted February 7, 2018 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

          I just had the chance to watch it. Thought it was hilarious.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 7, 2018 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Muhammad Ali’s conversion to Islam, and resulting name change from Cassius Clay, wasn’t made official, by either Ali or the NoI, until after he won the heavyweight championship, in his first bout against Sonny Liston, on Miami Beach, on February 24, 1964.

    I remember listening to that fight, under the covers in bed on a transistor radio I got as a gift the preceding Christmas. That fight marked the first wager I ever made, for a packet of notebook paper against another fifth-grader at my school. Had I understood the implications of Clay being a 7-1 underdog in that fight, I coulda become my grade-school’s notebook-paper magnate.

  5. Hempenstein
    Posted February 7, 2018 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Seems that Dock Boggs also died on Feb 7, his birthday, in 1971.

    Like so many in far western VA, he was originally a coal miner. After his discovery at a Brunswick audition in the later ’20s, his Wikipedia page continues: He bought a new banjo and formed a band known as “Dock Boggs and His Cumberland Mountain Entertainers”. At one point, he was earning three to four hundred dollars a week.[2]

    While Dock was experiencing a moderate amount of success, the life of a travelling musician often left him at odds with his religious neighbors, who considered such a life sinful. His wife, Sarah, whom he had married in 1918, despised secular music and was opposed to his earning a living by playing music

  6. W.Benson
    Posted February 7, 2018 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Re Mississippi’s recent certification of the 13th Amendment. Many states, even states today considered liberal, abstained from officially revoking pre-Civil War racist views. The 1857 Oregon State constitution, for example, criminalized the entrance of blacks into the state and required their deportation. Also, KKK was big in Oregon. The constitution read
    “No free negro or mulatto not residing in this state at the time of the adoption of this constitution, shall come, reside or be within this state or hold any real estate, or make any contracts, or maintain any suit therein; and the legislative assembly shall provide by penal laws for the removal by public officers of all such negroes and mulattoes, and for their effectual exclusion from the state, and for the punishment of persons who shall bring them into the state, or employ or harbor them.” Land ownership was also denied to “Chinamen”. The above wording was only removed from Oregon’s constitution in 1926.
    The Oregon laws defied by commission (not omission) the 13th Amendment. Other ‘liberal’ anti-slavery states in the 1860s had similar legislation that denied basic rights on the basis of race. Additional racist language remained in the Oregon State constitution until 2002.

    Sources: Wikipedia &

    Philosophy: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” — Walt Kelly, & BLM

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted February 7, 2018 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      Sure this is true, many states continued to pass unconstitutional laws and still do to this day. I recall not long ago either Kentucky or Tennessee made the bible the official state book, as if they needed one. This is why we have the courts, to correct the state legislatures who waste everyone’s time with these backward laws.

      There are many people such as those idiots in Oregon who think Dred Scott and the Kansas Nebreaska act do not contradict each other. They choose living in ignorance as a blessing.

      • ploubere
        Posted February 7, 2018 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        The Tennessee legislature did pass an act making the bible the state book, but Governor Haslam, a republican no less, vetoed it. He rationalized it by saying that it was disrespectful to the bible to trivialize it thus.

    • W.Benson
      Posted February 7, 2018 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      My point, of course, is that anytime pre-1900 US racism is mentioned, the geographic location is almost always south of 37o N. Latitude.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted February 7, 2018 at 8:41 am | Permalink

        Yes and no. There was a bounty on American Indians in California until about 1900.

        • mikeyc
          Posted February 7, 2018 at 9:42 am | Permalink

          I happened to just read about this. Actually the bounty on “scalps” from Native Americans in California began under Mexican authority in 1837 and continued for a few years after Statehood until 1857. Some estimates put the figure as high as 16,000 killed, though the bounties collected were only on a fraction of them. Many of the bounty hunters were other Native Americans, but some government forces took part in killings not related to the bounty.

          My understanding is that Australia had a similar bounty on aborigines.

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted February 7, 2018 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

            Yes, they did. The treatment of Australian Aborigines was appalling, and quite frankly there’s been little improvement in attitudes to this day amongst an extremely large proportion of other Australians.

  7. rickflick
    Posted February 7, 2018 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    As kids we used to try to catch young turtles in the weedy shallows of the local lake(MI). Mostly painted turtles and a few snappers and “rubber backs”. They were all pretty quick to dip under when they saw us coming, but the soft shelled turtles were hideously difficult to catch because of their speed underwater. The small babies were catch-able, but anything over about 5″ in diameter were impossible.

  8. Desnes Diev
    Posted February 7, 2018 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    The mammal is a fox. This illumination could be taken from one tale from “Le Roman de Renart” like “Renart et Tiécelin le corbeau” (“Renart [Fox] and Tiécelin the Raven”). But I think it’s more recent and illustrates La Fontaine’s “Le corbeau et le renard”. In the two stories, the main protagonists are a fox, a raven and a cheese.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted February 7, 2018 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      I’m confused — it’s a medieval illustration, so couldn’t reference La Fontaine, who lived much later. In the event, The tale originally comes from Aesop.

      • Desnes Diev
        Posted February 7, 2018 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        The thing is that I am not 100% convinced that it is a medieval illustration. So my alternative was: if it is medieval, it’s probably associated to “Le Roman de Renart”; if not, it could be a medieval-like illustration of La Fontaine’s tale.

        I may be wrong and it may be an illustration of Aesop’s tale, in which the raven has a piece of meat.

        In any case, it is a fox.

        “In the event, The tale originally comes from Aesop”

        Yes, Aesop’s tale inspired La Fontaine. He aknowledged that and even wrote a long text about “La Vie d’Ésope le Phrygien” (“The life of Aesop the Phrygian”).

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted February 7, 2018 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

          I don’t think it’s a modern illustration done in medieval style. I think it’s a medieval illustration – it looks like a close up of the inside of a capital letter at the top of a page. I agree it’s probably a fox.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 7, 2018 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      It is the real thing circa 1320.
      It’s from the Missale, Winterteil (Prümer Missale) : Ms. theol. lat. fol. 271 , [14. Jh. Anfang]

      The fox & raven can be seen at the bottom left of this page [202 right]:

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted February 7, 2018 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

        In other words, it’s a missal – a book for celebrating the Mass throughout the year & this page is from the winter section [which makes sense]. “Prümer” I think refers to the former Benedictine Prüm Abbey in Prüm, Lorraine [now Germany] – that’s prime Moselle wine country & I expect the monks lived well.

  9. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 7, 2018 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    I had no idea Tom Wolfe’s novel was named after a real incident.

    I recall reading an interview with Wolfe shortly after the novel came out, in which he said the title was both a reference to the Savonarola incident and an allusion to Vanity Fair, since he’s a big fan of Thackery, in particular, and of the 19th century realistic novel, in general.

    Similarly, Wolfe’s third novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons, is a play on Flaubert’s famous statement, “Madame Bovary c’est moi.”

    • Posted February 7, 2018 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      To be honest (an expression disliked by our host), I am puzzled by Flaubert’s identification with his character who incarnates most stereotypes of women.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted February 7, 2018 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, Emma had all the foibles of a 19th century femme au foyer. I’m no Flaubert expert, but I suspect he had something about the universal human condition in mind.

        For that matter, Wolfe doesn’t share much autobiographically with his young prodigy from Appalachia, Ms. Simmons, either.

  10. David Duncan
    Posted February 7, 2018 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    “Those who expired on November 7 include Anne Morrow Lindbergh (2001)…”

    Feb 7

  11. Posted February 7, 2018 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    I’ve always had a hard time reconciling the memory of the lucid biology writer Matt Ridley with the reality of the right-wing climate change denialist Viscount Ridley.

    I’ll admit I laughed out loud, when they had to nationalise the bank chaired by the laissez faire -ideologist Ridley.

    • Posted February 7, 2018 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      Funny indeed, but I was saddened, because I liked The Genome very much.

  12. Bric
    Posted February 7, 2018 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    A friend of mine was on Mash Report last week, in the item about students taking offence. I thought it was rather poor satire but he seems very pleased with himself.
    FWIW he’s the one with the ginger beard.

  13. Posted February 7, 2018 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful videos today!
    About that metaphorical black d*g… I know people guarded against it by real d*gs (not necessarily black) and/or cats. But I guess that when one travels as much as Prof. Coyne, a pet can hardly be maintained. Let’s hope that Honey will return!

  14. Barney
    Posted February 7, 2018 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    According to a tweet in December by Musk, they put a towel in the care too 🙂

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