Sunday: Hili dialogue

It’s Ceiling Cat’s Day: Sunday, March 4, 2018, and also National Poundcake Day, a comestible that needs moisture, preferably in the form of strawberries and whipped cream. It’s also National Grammar Day in the U.S., so let’s all resolve to place the word “only” in its proper position, e.g.:

WRONG: “I only have eyes for you.”
RIGHT:  “I have eyes for only you.” (or “only for you”)

I heard on the news this morning that Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes, has died at age 88. As the BBC reports:

His time of three minutes 59.4 seconds, set at Iffley Road sports ground in Oxford on 6 May 1954, stood as a record for just 46 days but his place in athletics history was assured.

Bannister also won gold over the same distance at the 1954 Commonwealth Games and later became a leading neurologist.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2011.

Bannister viewed running as something to be done in his spare time away from the demands of his medical studies at the University of Oxford, but that did not prevent him reaching the biggest stages in the sport.

Here’s a video of that great achievement, narrated by Bannister:

The men’s record has dropped 17 seconds since then, now held by Hicham El Guerrouj with a time of 3:43.13. There clearly is a limit (nobody can run a mile in 30 seconds), but what is that limit, and what determines it?

Chuck “Right Stuff” Yeager, still alive and tweeting at age 95 (!!), put this up today:

On this day in 1493, Christopher Columbus, having sailed the ocean blue, returned to Lisbon aboard his ship Niña.  On March 4, 1519, Hernán Cortés arrived in Mexico, seeking for wealth held by the Aztecs. That meeting was to result in the end of the Aztecs (I believe there’s a good new book on the meeting between Cortés and Montezuma).  On this day in 1797, John Adams was inaugurated as the second President of the United States.  In 1837, the city of Chicago was incorporated, soon to become the world’s mecca for pizza, Italian beef sandwiches, hot dogs, and rib tips. On this day in 1917, Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first woman to sit in the United States House of Representatives, and exactly 16 years later Frances Perkins became the first woman member of the U.S. Cabinet: Secretary of Labor.

Two Nazi episodes of murder took place on this day in 1943; Matthew found these tweets:

I knew about the White Rose organization, which the Nazis also decapitated, but not the Baum Group (read more here). Also, there was a big killing in Auschwitz on the same day:

It was on this day in 1966 when John Lennon declared, in an interview in The Evening Standard, that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus now.” I remember that well, and how much of a fracas it caused, even though it may have been true—at least in the UK. Finally exactly 20 years ago today, the Supreme Court of the U.S, in the case of  Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc. , ruled that sexual harassment laws in the workplace applied to parties of the same sex.

Notables born on March 4 include Henry the Navigator (1394), Casimir Pulaski (1745), Knute Rockne (1888), George Gamow (1904), Miriam Makeba (1932), Paula Prentiss (1938), and Rick Perry (1950). Those who joined the Choir Invisible on this day include Nikolai Gogol (1852), Amos Bronson Alcott (1888), mountaineer Willi Unsoeld (1979. Along with Tom Hornbein, Unsoeld performed an amazing traverse of the mountain when summiting Everest in 1963, losing nine toes in the effort. A faculty member of The Evergreen State College (!), Unsoeld died in an avalanche on Mt. Ranier). Also expiring on March 4 were John Candy (1994), Minnie Pearl (1996), and Pat Conroy (2016).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is overlooking the production of Listy:

A: At last I tidied my desk.
Hili: It looks about the same from here.
 In Polish:
Ja: Wreszcie tu posprzątałem.
Hili: Z góry to inaczej wygląda.

Tweets from Matthew: A baby hare (“leveret”) is rescued from the snow at Dublin Airport:

A honking huge fish!

Why grebes are like penguins:

The diversity of the ocean floor:

And a fascinating observation of one of Saturn’s moons:


SPOT THE D*G! I like this tweet, even if it is a d*g. It’s hidden in the Irish snow:

This cat is chill:

I’d love to feel those tiny feet on my finger:

A snow cow (clearly male):

And a business cat from Grania. Look at its butt!



  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted March 4, 2018 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    “On this day in 1493, Christopher Columbus, having sailed the ocean blue, returned to Lisbon aboard his ship Niña”

    Ah, the Columbus thread!

    1492 rhymes with blue
    1493 … green

  2. Posted March 4, 2018 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    A snow cow (clearly male)

    I think the word you’re looking for is “bull” 😉

    • davidintoronto
      Posted March 4, 2018 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      “Cattle” refers to both sexes. But this is plural – and there’s no singular equivalent. Colloquially, “cow” (“cows”) is sometimes used in a non-sex-specific sense. But such usage is bound to draw the ire of both farmers and language pedants.

      (The above is brought to you by National Grammar Day!)


      • Heather Hastie
        Posted March 4, 2018 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        It’s a bull.

        One of our family jokes is my sister saying “male cow” when she got into a panic playing Pictionary.

        Mine is a farming country (NZ). “Cows” is never used when both sexes are involved, and no school would ever accept it as correct.

  3. Laurance
    Posted March 4, 2018 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    I only have eyes for you if I have only eyes, but no nose or mouth…

  4. Posted March 4, 2018 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    I live in Germany and have never heard of the Baum Group. I have just searched and the results that Google presents in German are: tree group, a real estate company (…) and only on the second page is an entry to the resistance group.

    • Posted March 4, 2018 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      There are plenty of results on American Google, e.g.:


      • Posted March 4, 2018 at 8:16 am | Permalink

        Thanks for the links. I figured out that by searching for “Herbert-Baum-Gruppe ” you get results in German too. But it’s really a shame that there is no public knowledge here about this jewish resistance group from Berlin (unlike the White Rose which everyone knows)

        • Posted March 4, 2018 at 9:03 am | Permalink

          Yes, I knew all about the White Rose and Sophie Scholl, but had never heard of this group. Yet they were both equally anti-Nazi, and one could argue that the Baum Group took far more direct action than did The White Rose.

          • Posted March 4, 2018 at 10:57 am | Permalink

            Yes, right, with the arson attack on the propaganda exhibition “The Soviet Paradise” tried the Baum Group not only with leaflets to fight the Nazi regime.

            Considering the blood toll of this failed attack: not only the 28 members of the core group were immediately arrested and executed, but two weeks later, in a retaliatory action 500 Jews were arrested in Berlin. 250 were shot immediately, 250 Jewish men were deported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, once again one becomes aware of the mercilessly cruel mechanisms of the Nazi regime.
            The reason why the White Rose is much better known could also be related to the fact that it had supporters from academic and religious circles, while the Baum Group could only work underground, in contrast to the siblings Scholl, who were able to use the university infrastructure as students.

            • Posted March 11, 2018 at 5:28 am | Permalink

              I also suppose that in public perception, the victims from the Baum group blend with other Jews killed in the Holocaust.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 4, 2018 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    It was on this day in 1966 when John Lennon declared, in an interview in The Evening Standard, that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus now.”

    As I recall, it wasn’t until the following summer, after John’s interview appeared in a US fan mag, that the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth began in earnest among the religiosi, leading to the picketing and record-burning.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted March 4, 2018 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      Record burning? You’ve got to be kidding me! The American Taliban has been around longer than I thought!

  6. Michael Fisher
    Posted March 4, 2018 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    The New Scientist link theorising as to the origin of Iapetus’ equatorial ice mountain range [20km tall] isn’t useful due to subscription required. This from Journal Geophysical Research, March 2012 is better – title: Delayed formation of the equatorial ridge on Iapetus from a sub-satellite created in a giant impact

    • Posted March 4, 2018 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      Apropos the article on the equatorial bulge of Iapetus, a recent paper in Icarus, the leading journal of planetary science, suggested a mechanism that could produce it by shrinking of the lithosphere. The authors (who are also co-authors of the JGR paper cited above) mention an alternative hypothesis that the bulge is a frozen-in rotational bulge, and note that this poses strict constraints on the formation of Iapetus. They do not refer to the accreted-ring theory, and I have not heard of this theory before either.

      Reference: Kay, J.P., Dombard, A.J. “Formation of the bulge of Iapetus through long-wavelength folding of the lithosphere” (2018) Icarus, 302, 237

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted March 4, 2018 at 10:26 am | Permalink

        Hi David. The 2012 paper I linked to & the 2018 paper you linked to are surely not rival theories? I see them as complementary theories. i.e. the Iapetus “bulge” – the global pronounced oblate shape of the moon, is a different structure [& a different formation process] to the Iapetus “equatorial mountain range” which only has a width of 200 km & has highly defined edges to it.

        That’s my impression anyway.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted March 5, 2018 at 2:37 am | Permalink

      If I had a shilling for every time that someone has followed a comment about Iapetus with that line from a certain movie …
      But it is one of the weirdest worlds we’ve found so far. It’s just damned annoying that there are nearly a dozen other, equally weird worlds we know about, and two planets still almost unexplored.

  7. Phil Garnock-Jones
    Posted March 4, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    “20 years ago today”: nice segue from the Beatles to the Supreme Court.

  8. George
    Posted March 4, 2018 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Happy 181st Birthday to Shikaakwa (Miami-Illinois for “wild onion” or “wild garlic”)
    Or as the Potawatomi said – Happy Birthday Gaa-zhigaagwanzhikaag.

  9. Hempenstein
    Posted March 4, 2018 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Um, if those catfish are critically endangered, what are they doing with that one?

    • Nobody Special
      Posted March 4, 2018 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      Catch and release?

    • ratabago
      Posted March 4, 2018 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      Background on NBC

      It was netted by local fishermen in Thailand. At that time Mekong giant catfish had no legal protection. But in 2006 the Thai King, backed by some conservation organisations, got involved and got the local fishermen to agree to cease fishing for them. The conservation organisations purchased the fishermen’s nets for $600 US per net as compensation.

      AFAICT there is still a short catfish fishing season in Thailand and Laos each year, but the members of the “Catfishing Club”, the local families that have cultural and religious ties to fishing for the Mekong giant catfish, are still upholding their agreement not to fish for them.

  10. Nobody Special
    Posted March 4, 2018 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Re. business cat, panel 3; is that how the desk pencil sharpener was invented?

  11. Mark R.
    Posted March 4, 2018 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Is “Italian Beef” the one with giardiniera and au jus? I’ve also had it without au jus, but never without the yummy (and hopefully spicy) giardiniera. If so, I love those sandwiches! Do you know the name of a famous Chicago joint that specializes in Italian Beef? I’d like to google and take a look…maybe they ship.

    • Laura
      Posted March 5, 2018 at 1:21 am | Permalink

      I’m not sure about the other major contenders, but Portillo’s will ship their Italian beef sandwiches. Argh, now I want one.

  12. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted March 4, 2018 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Re: “so let’s all resolve to place the word “only” in its proper position,”

    But one could say so let’s all resolve to place the word “only” ONLY in its proper position 🙂

  13. Joseph O'Sullivan
    Posted March 4, 2018 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Meiofauna!!! hey, that was the beginning and the end of my career as a paid scientist. I was a student lab technician, and I processed marine sediment samples. I got paid $4.02 an hour.

  14. Paul Clapham
    Posted March 4, 2018 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    You’ll notice that Hicham El Guerrouj set the world mile record in 1999 — which is nearly 20 years ago now. However the IAAF hasn’t been keeping official mile records for a long time, so maybe the action is all in the 1500 meters now?

    Nope — El Guerrouj holds the 1500 meters record as well, and he set that in 1998.

    So it appears that either El Guerrouj holds the permanent record for those distances, or we’re just waiting for the Usain Bolt of the 1500 meters to come along and rewrite the record book.

    But while we’re waiting: the last fast milers were El Guerrouj and Noureddine Morceli, both from North Africa. Perhaps North African athletes have turned their attention away from the middle distances towards less secular pursuits?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted March 4, 2018 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know the answer to your question, but I’m convinced the Moroccans used EPO – they were ‘dopers’. All the World records for ALL the distances are meaningless bullshit, because of ‘performance enhancement’. The failure to advance the mile for nearly two decades might just be that ‘athletes’ are finding it harder to get heightened amounts of oxygen per pint of blood into their systems without detection.

      Detection has advanced

      Maybe we need to ruthlessly erase all records for three decades & start again? Athletics is just like all other sports with pay-per-view TV time & opportunities for betting. It is broken, venal & corrupt. There is too much money in it for ability to be the deciding factor!

      Every sport is like this today

      I have reason to believe my idol Jamaican sprinter, who just retired [you know who I mean], was no different. The gains from fixing a track race are so large monetarily that anybody who believes in world records as a measure of the human will is simply a fool.

      It is ironic that the breaker of the 4-minute mile made little money for his endeavours, but his piked running shoes earned around £260,000 yesterday at auction. The same day he died at 88 I think. Sick.

      • Paul Clapham
        Posted March 4, 2018 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

        The IAAF proposed that just last year, wiping all records set before 2005. There seemed to be high-level (Seb Coe) support for it but I haven’t heard anything about since. Presumably it didn’t happen.

        The influence of money at work? You might say so and I wouldn’t contradict anything you said there.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted March 4, 2018 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

          yeah – wiping to 2005 is ridiculous. It needs to go back decades.

          I love track. Brit track. But I know Cram MBE, Ovett OBE, Lord Coe KBE & many, many others have bent the rules beyond breaking. There is no chance now of ‘straightening’ athletics – it has the low legitimacy of the crooked sports of boxing, cycling, snooker, football, cricket – the whole caboodle of nonsense. Bloody hell even solo [& group] climbers have lied for years & years. Sport is mashed up beyond repair.

          My favourite game is poker [the cash game not tournament] where it’s in the rules to lie & exaggerate. It’s full of people colluding outside the rules, but it’s still more honest than pro sports. And Am sports]

  15. Paul Clapham
    Posted March 4, 2018 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    By the way, when Bannister was at the Commonwealth Games in 1954 he didn’t want to do his training where the other athletes could see what he was up to. So he went off to train at an obscure track in the boondocks. That track is still there and I can see it from my living room window.

  16. Posted March 4, 2018 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Question: Is the Mekong giant catfish or the sunfish larger?

  17. Posted March 5, 2018 at 1:53 am | Permalink

    If only more people listened to this:

  18. Posted March 5, 2018 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    “I only have eyes for you” is not necessarily incorrect. If you come to my animal parts emporium requesting mixed pieces of cow on the day before the next delivery is due when my stock is a bit low and I’ve just taken a large order from somebody else for cow parts excluding ocular organs, I would find it quite a useful sentence.

  19. Posted March 5, 2018 at 12:50 pm | Permalink


    “All kinds of shoes repaired.”

    should be (to be semantically correct)

    “Shoes of all kinds repaired.”

    (You can’t repair a kind.)

  20. Posted March 11, 2018 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    I like the floating “blossom” put into the cup to lure the hummingbird. I wouldn’t have the wit to include it.

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