Saturday: Hili dialogue

It’s the weekend: Saturday, February 17, 2018, and the temperature in Chicago has dropped to well below freezing. It’s National Café au Lait Day, and if a latte counts I’ll oblige shortly. In Catholicism, it’s the Feast Day of Bernadette Soubirous, the girl who thought she saw the Virgin Mary at Lourdes. Sadly, the rest is history.

Not much happened on this day with respect to either births or history. I guess people don’t copulate in June (which is mysterious), and they don’t do much either, accounting for the absence of historical events—at least in the Northern Hemisphere.

On February 17, 1600, the philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned alive for heresy in Rome. And on this day in 1801, an electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr was resolved in this way (from Wikipedia):

In 1800, the Democratic-Republican Party again nominated Jefferson for president and also nominated Aaron Burr for vice president. After the election, Jefferson and Burr both obtained a majority of electoral votes, but tied one another with 73 votes each. Since ballots did not distinguish between votes for president and votes for vice president, every ballot cast for Burr technically counted as a vote for him to become president, despite Jefferson clearly being his party’s first choice. Lacking a clear winner by constitutional standards, the election had to be decided by the House of Representatives pursuant to the Constitution’s contingency election provision.

Having already lost the presidential contest, Federalist Party representatives in the lame duck House session seized upon the opportunity to embarrass their opposition by attempting to elect Burr over Jefferson. The House deadlocked for 35 ballots as neither candidate received the necessary majority vote of the state delegations in the House (the votes of nine states were needed for a conclusive election). Jefferson achieved electoral victory on the 36th ballot, but only after Federalist Party leader Alexander Hamilton—who disfavored Burr’s personal character more than Jefferson’s policies—had made known his preference for Jefferson.

Of course a little more than three years later, Burr shot and killed Hamilton in a duel.

On this day in 1867, the first ship passed through the Suez Canal. On February 17, 1904, Puccini’s opera “Madame Butterfly” premiered at La Scala in Milan.  And in 1980, Krzysztof Wielicki and Leszek Cichy, two Polish mountaineers, made the first winter ascent of Mount Everest. Finally, on this day in 1996, world chess champion Garry Kasparov beat the “Deep Blue” supercomputer in a match. However, the computer won one game and there were two ties, so the final score was 4-2.

Those born on February 17 include geneticist and statistician Ronald Fisher (1890), Duane “Galloping” Gish (1921), Chaim Potok (1929), Gene Pitney (1940), Huey P. Newton (1942), and Michael Jordan (1963; he’s 55 today). Those who expired on this day include Giordano Bruno (1600; see above), Jan Swammerdam (1680), Heinrich Heine (1856), Geronimo (1909), Thelonious Monk (1982), and Mindy MCready (2013).

Here’s Gene Pitney singing my favorite of his songs, “Only Love Can Break a Heart”, written by Burt Bachrach and Hal David. Pitney made it a hit in 1962, but this more recent performance (the only live one I could find) is still pretty good. The original version starts at 2:28, so you get two for one. (A live medley of his hits, sung when he was young, is here.)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has found place to rest, but it’s in Andrzej’s chair:

Hili: You are sitting on me.
A: You can find another place.
Hili: No way.

In Polish:

Hili: Siedzisz na mnie.
Ja: Nadal możesz poszukać sobie innego miejsca.
Hili: Mowy nie ma.

Purely by chance, all of today’s tweets (save one) involve cats. Here’s one showing a woman’s crazy moggies:

From reader Blue, a box ‘o Bengals. Look at those spots! Some day one of these will be mine.

From Matthew, a “particularly fine” painting, and you can see why! For once the artist has drawn the cats correctly. I think there’s a Ph.D. thesis waiting to be written on why artists can’t paint cats properly.

And something I know we’re all curious about: what happens when the flight attendants inflate the emergency slide:

Grania found this cat tweet, and the short video has gone viral. Apparently this cat hangs out at the top of the Taksim Square metro station in Istanbul, and has been doing so for several years. It’s the most chill cat I’ve ever seen. Naturally the cat-loving Turkish commuters carefully avoid hurting it:

Here’s another photo of it, and you can read more on BuzzFeed (as you can see, people feed it, too). I’m sure there’s at least one Turkish-speaking reader who can translate this for us:


  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 17, 2018 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    “Sadly, the rest is history.”

    No emoji can capture this.

    • Posted February 17, 2018 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      Deserves a tweet or three, or a hundred.

  2. Posted February 17, 2018 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    “In Catholicism, it’s the Feast Day of Bernadette Soubirous, the girl who thought she saw the Virgin Mary at Lourdes. Sadly, the rest is history.”

    I would change the ending of this to “Sadly the rest is hysteria.”!

    • Hempenstein
      Posted February 17, 2018 at 9:37 am | Permalink


  3. Posted February 17, 2018 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    No reason to be patient for translation from Turkish: Google Translator does it too:

    “A lucky cat lying on its back, where thousands of people pass every day … This is the lower floor of the Taksim subway station. Crazy questions in my head …”

  4. Posted February 17, 2018 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Here in Finland, more people are born in March than in any other month. That’s because so many copulate in June, around Midsummer festivities.

    I’m not into correcting minor spelling mistakes, but the one that sometimes annoys me is the first name of Thelonious Monk.

    • Posted February 17, 2018 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      I’ll fix that so you won’t be annoyed!

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted February 17, 2018 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        Glad to see you took the correction straight, no chaser.

        • Posted February 17, 2018 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

          🙂 No misterioso there. Among friends of scientific accuracy.

  5. Posted February 17, 2018 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    You get a Bengal cat? I’m happy for you. And will we, as readers, be able to participate in this pleasure and adventure by having a daily Bengal dialogue from the Coyne house in addition to the daily Hili dialogue? That would be great too.

    • David Coxill
      Posted February 17, 2018 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      Other people must be wondering as i am ,what is stopping you getting a Bengal cat?

      • Posted February 17, 2018 at 8:08 am | Permalink

        Many things. But I know from the past what it’s like to have a cat, it’s just wonderful.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted February 17, 2018 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        Short answer, made many times : Jerry likes travelling ; this is not fair on any pet.

  6. Linda Calhoun
    Posted February 17, 2018 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    “It’s National “Drink Wine” Day (why the scare quotes?)…”

    I can only answer for myself about the scare quotes.

    Wine is terrifying. I’m allergic to sulfites. I don’t drink it, but avoiding food cooked in wine can be really hard.

    At least we’re past the day when commercial establishments could put that shit on food, and they didn’t have to tell you it was there.


  7. George
    Posted February 17, 2018 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    PCC(e) hang your head in shame!!! You were in Chicago during the 1990s for the Bulls six championships. Michael Jordon???? I think you meant Jordan.

    The temperature in Chicago stayed above freezing for almost three days – including at night. So most of the 18 inches (46cm) of snow we got over nine days ending last Sunday is gone. Temperature is supposed to get to 44F (7C) tomorrow and 55F (13C) on Monday – President’s Day, a holiday.

    I, like many fortunate Americans and residents of London, love the Alexander Hamilton story. When the musical Hamilton closes with “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”, A. Ham is fortunate that Lin-Manuel Miranda told his story. There are now two touring companies and productions in New York, Chicago and London. Expensive but try to see it if you can.

    • George
      Posted February 17, 2018 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      If you want to cry today – the day after Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians for helping Little Donny the Short Fingered Orange Vulgarian become president, watch this video. Lin-Manuel Miranda (as Alexander Hamilton) and Chris Jackson (as George Washington) perform One Last Time at the White House when it was occupied by a decent human being. Washington informs Miranda that he is retiring and asks Hamilton to prepare his farewell address.

    • Posted February 17, 2018 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      Calm down, George. That was a typo, for crying out loud. I obviously know how to spell the name of Michael Jorden!

      • Diane G.
        Posted February 18, 2018 at 12:55 am | Permalink


  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 17, 2018 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    I dunno, when it comes to Gene Pitney, I’ll take the hits he had with two movie title tracks, “Town Without Pity” and “Liberty Valance.”

    • George
      Posted February 17, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      My favorite Gene Pitney song was a big hit for Ricky Nelson, Hello Mary Lou. Pitney was accused of plagiarism and had to later share the credits. Shortly after Nelson died in a plane crash, Queen performed the song in tribute to Nelson.

  9. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted February 17, 2018 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Apparently this cat hangs out at the top of the Taksim Square metro station in Istanbul,

    Hmmm, I didn’t see it, and I think I used all the exits from the metro at one time or another. It’s safer than trying to cross the roads.

  10. rickflick
    Posted February 17, 2018 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I agree the cats in the Kreidolf painting are splendid. Why do artists often fail in painting cats? I think it must be that they often don’t know the anatomy. From the outside, cats have a thick, rounded look, whereas the underlying skin and bone is often rather skinny and bony. I would also guess that the cats in pictures are thought of as decorative and ornamental additions and are thus deserving of less attention than the main subject(whereas we all know cats are always the main subject).

    • Posted February 17, 2018 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Perhaps cats refuse to sit still long enough.

      • rickflick
        Posted February 17, 2018 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        On film that can result in a blur. For the painter, one imagines a lively chase around the studio. I think that would serve as a good an excuse for failure.

  11. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted February 17, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    what happens when the flight attendants inflate the emergency slide:

    Reversing it and packaging the slide (or any other sort of lifeboat) after a test inflation or replacement of the food/ water/ medicines is a complex and so expensive task. Which is why companies (boats, aircraft) try to shave their inspection/ testing regimes to the absolute minimum. Check the expiry date on the door as your boarding. It’s probably too late to do anything about it by that point, but it will give you a measure of who you’re dealing with. If it’s not clearly visible, assume it’s being covered up because it’s expired.

  12. Posted February 17, 2018 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    The cat at the top of the escalator is fascinating. My guess is that’s where the escalator’s motor is and it warms that spot.

  13. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted February 17, 2018 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Lourdes has inspired 3 novels, one pious, one skeptical, and one sensationalistic potboiler.

    The pious one is, of course, “Song of Bernadette” by (Jewish author) Franz Werfel.

    Much more on the skeptical side is Emile Zola’s “Lourdes” which includes a cure with plenty of indications that it is psychosomatic.

    Finally, Irving Wallace’s “The Miracle” is a bit of a potboiler based on the presupposition that the Vatican announces there will be a second coming of Mary based on their having discovered B’s secret diaries.

    I suspect many readers of WEIT will want to check out the 2nd one.

  14. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted February 17, 2018 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Chaim Potok was the rabbi at a synagogue about 5 miles from where I lived in high school. This was a closely guarded secret- the locals did not want anyone visiting mainly to hear a famous novelist. Even now, I can find nothing online to corroborate it.

  15. Posted February 17, 2018 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    I thought the first cat tweet appeared yesterday?

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