Tuesday: Hili dialogue

This is one of those days where I arrive at work, having crept like a snail unwillingly to school, having no idea what I will write. But there’s always Hili!

It’s Tuesday, the Cruelest Day: March 6, 2018, and National Oreo Day. (That’s one American cookie I like, but always with milk. Green tea Oreos, available only in Japan, are even better.) It’s also the Day of the Dude, celebrating the philosophy of Dudeism, which is completely new to me. Wikipedia notes that this philosophy comes from the movie The Big Lebowski:

The Dudeist belief system is essentially a modernized form of Taoism stripped of all of its metaphysical and medical doctrines. Dudeism advocates and encourages the practice of “going with the flow”, “being cool headed”, and “taking it easy” in the face of life’s difficulties, believing that this is the only way to live in harmony with our inner nature and the challenges of interacting with other people. It also aims to assuage feelings of inadequacy that arise in societies which place a heavy emphasis on achievement and personal fortune. Consequently, simple everyday pleasures like bathing, bowling, and hanging out with friends are seen as far preferable to the accumulation of wealth and the spending of money as a means to achieve happiness and spiritual fulfillment.

On March 6, 632, or so it is said, Muhammad gave his ” Farewell Sermon” near Mount Arafat, east of Mecca. On this day in 1665, the first issue of the science journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society was published in London. On March 6, 1836, after a siege of 13 days by 3,000 Mexican troops, the 187 Texans defending the Alamo were killed as the fort was finally captured. The dead included Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie.  It was on this day in 1869 that Dmitri Mendeleev presented his periodic table of the elements to the Russian Chemical Society. He then published them in the German chemistry journal Zeitschrift fϋr Chemie. Here is the first published periodic table:

Exactly 30 years later, Bayer registered the name “aspirin” as a trademark. On March 6, 1951, the trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg for espionage began in New York. Both were convicted and electrocuted.  Finally, on this day in 1964, the boxing champion Cassius Clay was given his Muslim name by Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad: Clay’s name was henceforth to be Muhammad Ali.

Notables born on March 6 include Michelangelo (1475), Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806), Ring Lardner (1885), Lou Costello (1906), Ed McMahon (1923), Gabriel García Márquez (1927, Nobel Prize for Literature 1982), Kiri Te Kanawa (1944), Corolyn Porco (1953) and Shaquille O’Neal (1972). Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) honors Marquez with some scenes from his books, which I like very much.

Those who died on March 6 include James Bowie and Davy Crockett (1836; see above), Louisa May Alcott (1888), John Philip Sousa (1932), Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1935), Pearl Buck (1973), Ayn Rand (1982), Georgia O’Keeffe (1986), Hans Bethe (2005), and Nancy Reagan (2016).

Like many artists, Georgia O’Keeffe had a Siamese cat (any hypotheses?). Here they are:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Malgorzata took a rare and very cute picture of Andrzej with Hili. What is Hili doing up there? Malgorzata explains:

Sometimes when I’m not at the computer or when she becomes bored with sitting on my arm she goes over to Andrzej and jumps on him. Sometimes she sits on his lap but sometimes she wants to be in his arms. She does it of her own volition. Neither of us is picking her up when we are working. She really slows us down.

And her explanation of the dialogue:  “Everything you learn, no matter how interesting and confirming your opinion, should be verified”.

A: It’s interesting.
Hili: Yes, but how to verify it?
In Polish:
Ja: To interesujące.
Hili: Tak, ale jak to sprawdzić?

And up in Winnipeg, Gus got some leftover tuna meant for the staff!

Is that tuna I smell?




Whisker-licking good!

Matthew sent a Japanese tweet; it’s a wasp-mimicking moth, but look at its bizarre legs!

A lovely dragonfly; at first, Matthew said, he thought it was a sculpture. Enlarge the photos to see the amazing patterns, especially in the eye.

How bridges can be built; absolutely amazing!

Gargoyle lion disgorges an icicle:

I had no idea that beetles could change color! In reality, it doesn’t: it’s the angle of the light, or so says Dr. Cobb.

More jacksnipe bobbing as they walk. Would someone please tell me why these birds do this? (Note everyone freezing at 12 seconds in.)

A murmuration of geese:

And. . . Cat-Man! Why haven’t they made a superhero movie about him?

Finally, reader Luke sent this tweet, which mirrors the story of Muhammad and his favorite cat Muezza. It’s said that one day Muhammad had to rise to answer the call to prayer but found Muezza was sleeping on his sleeve. He cut off his sleeve rather than disturb the cat. This must be a trope:


  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    “It’s also the Day of the Dude, celebrating the philosophy of Dudeism, ”

    Chalk another one up for Fantasyland

    Though, I like this one.

  2. Dominic
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Also the birthday of one of the richest men ever, Jakob Fugger 1459-1525
    …& my aunt is 80…

  3. George
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Texans like to talk about their glorious revolution. They ignore the real history. It was an invasion of colonists from the United States who wanted to keep their slaves. Slavery was abolished in Mexico in 1829. The constitution of the newly independent Texas Republic (adopted in 1836) explicit legalized slavery.

    I cannot stand Texans and all their bulls**t.

    • Posted March 6, 2018 at 6:50 am | Permalink

      Interesting point. From now on I’ll remember the Alamo differently.

    • Historian
      Posted March 6, 2018 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      Yes, Texas was a slaveholding republic from its conception. Section 9 of the General Provisions of its original constitution (1836) stated the following:

      “SEC. 9. All persons of color who were slaves for life previous to their emigration to Texas, and who are now held in bondage, shall remain in the like state of servitude, provide the said slave shall be the bona fide property of the person so holding said slave as aforesaid. Congress shall pass no laws to prohibit emigrants from the United States of America from bringing their slaves into the Republic with them, and holding them by the same tenure by which such slaves were held in the United States; nor shall Congress have power to emancipate slaves; nor shall any slave-holder be allowed to emancipate his or her slave or slaves, without the consent of Congress, unless he or she shall send his or her slave or slaves without the limits of the Republic. No free person of African descent, either in whole or in part, shall be permitted to reside permanently in the Republic, without the consent of Congress, and the importation or admission of Africans or negroes into this Republic, excepting from the United States of America, is forever prohibited, and declared to be piracy.”

      This provision made it extremely difficult for slaves to be freed, not only be individual masters but by the Texas congress itself. Of course, after just about 15 years after being annexed by the United States, the state seceded to join the Confederacy.

      One must give Texas credit for how well it has managed to sustain the myth of the glorious fight for Texan freedom.


    • Posted March 6, 2018 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      Ummm. . . do you really want to dismiss everybody in Texas? I have some good friends there who don’t purvey “bulls**t”.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted March 6, 2018 at 9:08 am | Permalink

        Preserve the Peoples Republic of Austin, is the way I feel about it. 🙂

      • George
        Posted March 6, 2018 at 9:14 am | Permalink

        OK – a lot of hyperbole in my condemnation. Still, I find the entire mythos of Texas to be appalling.

    • DrBeydon
      Posted March 6, 2018 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      Don’t mess with Texas, you don’t know where it’s been.

  4. Posted March 6, 2018 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Sometimes we forget that the periodic table was established way before anybody knew about protons or electrons.

    • Posted March 6, 2018 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      Yes, excellent pattern recognition!

    • glen1davidson
      Posted March 6, 2018 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      For Mendeleev, they really were elements–irreducible substances out of which everything else was made.

      Not knowing about neutrons was what caused problems for the table, since Mendeleev only knew atomic weights. So argon showed up out of order, because the radiogenic argon in our atmosphere is neutron-heavy.

      Glen Davidson

      • Posted March 6, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

        Mendeleev at the end of its life seems to have thought that the elements as we know them are “peaks” on what might be a wave process. In particular, he thought there might be elements lighter than hydrogen and also between helium and lithium.

        (See _Mendeleev on the Periodic Law_.)

  5. Laurance
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Green Tea Oreos! Wow! I should write to the Oreo company and ask them to please do that here. Green tea, after all, is becoming trendy, and I see Matcha for sale these days.

    There are green tea sandwich cookies for sale at one of our local Asian stores. Just what I need now that I’m trying to lose weight! Those cookies are one of the things I have to stay away from.

    But maybe angel cake isn’t so bad. I’ve made Matcha angel cake in the past.

  6. Posted March 6, 2018 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    These jacksnipe need some appropriate music

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted March 6, 2018 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      Good choice

  7. Ruthann
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    I know the black dogs began appearing at the end of Jan., but must have missed the explanation. So why are they included?

    • DrBeydon
      Posted March 6, 2018 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      I missed it, too. Year of the Dog?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted March 6, 2018 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      Here’s a MASSIVE CLUE Warning: LOUD

      • DrBrydon
        Posted March 6, 2018 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

        Oh, that Black Dog. Got it.

  8. John Taylor
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    He’s missing a bunch of elements. Wha!t a dummy. Also his elements go vertically instead of horizontally. Basic high school stuff. He must have missed his introductory chemistry courses!

    • Posted March 7, 2018 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      Also he got the numbers wrong. Lithium is 3 as any fule kno.

      Seriously though, it’s incredible that, despite not knowing what protons and electrons are, he still managed to get the table more or less correct and her had the insight to realise that the gaps weren’t a problem for his ides but elements still to be discovered.

      • Posted March 7, 2018 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        It is interesting to read a bit how he thought these things through. M. always said that the *periodic law* was the discovery, not the table, which is just a representation of the law as we can understand it. (This is an interesting and IMO correct use of law vs. law statement, which are merrily confused even to this day.)

        For all his genius, however, the “misses” are also interesting, for example the insistence that tellurium and iodine must have their atomic masses misdetermined. Also many *not found* elements.

        Understanding elemental periodicity is still an open question – see Scerri’s book on the periodic table on why additional purely ‘chemical resemblance’ hypotheses apparently have to be added to get the physical descriptions to come from the non-ab itio calculations.

  9. Pierluigi Ballabeni
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    The 6 March for Mendeleev’s presentation of the periodic table refers to the Julian calendar and corresponds to the 18 March on our, Gregorian, calendar. Russia only switched to the Gregorian calendar after the October Revolution.

  10. Posted March 6, 2018 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    More than one factor probably figures into the frequent observation that artists in the early 20th century were the frequent staff of Siamese cats. I suggest one factor is that the breed was significantly more common decades ago so the probability of a human serving as their staff would be higher.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted March 6, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      They also signaled prestige and exoticism in those days.

  11. Posted March 6, 2018 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    That bridge machine: There must be a very large premium on not disturbing the local landscape. I suppose it’s also cost effective to load the segments to the rail cars at the manufacturing site and then place them directly from the cars. Pretty cool.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 7, 2018 at 2:08 am | Permalink

      It can also work out more economic regardless of local landscape.

      Traditionally, concrete bridges were built using ‘falsework’, huge timber structures built up from the bottom of the valley, and the span poured in situ on top. The falsework then has to be dismantled and re-erected for the next span.

      Most modern beam bridges are ‘prestressed’, meaning the steel is put under tension when the concrete is poured in a ‘precasting yard’. It makes for economies to pour and prestress all the spans one after the other in a ‘precasting yard’ at one end of the bridge and use a ‘launching cradle’ to convey the spans, one by one, to their final position – as shown in the video.

      The higher the bridge, the more falsework is saved.

      A similar technique is ‘incremental launching’ where the spans are tied together and launched as a continuous beam (usually with a steel ‘nose’ bolted to the first one) which slides across the tops of the piers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incremental_launch

      Millau Viaduct (which has a steel deck) was launched by a variant of this method.


  12. Chris B
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Insects with cuticle proteins that diffract light of different colors depending on the angle are fairly common. There is even a mosquito, Sabethes cyaneus, that shows blue, purple, or bronze depending on the lighting.

    • loren russell
      Posted March 6, 2018 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

      In this case, the goldbug can change from being iridescent gold from all angles, to dull reddish. Presumably this is controlled by regulating the amount of hemolymph in the outer cuticle, so changing the separation of these layers and their action as a diffraction grating.

      Dead dry specimens lose the iridescence, unless most iridescent beetles.

  13. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Lebowski is peak Coens, my favorite comedy of the past 50 years. I slip an allusion, or an outright reference (or, hell, even a link to clip) in the comments section here every chance I get.

    • Posted March 6, 2018 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      Bridges, Goodman, Buscemi and Turturro, Moore, Reid, Stormare, even Hoffman and Elliott, at their very best.

      And not one of them plays the title character. Huddleston is good, though.

    • George
      Posted March 6, 2018 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      I don’t think I can pick peak Coens. I even like their not so good stuff. Fargo will always be special.

      • Posted March 6, 2018 at 11:35 am | Permalink

        Fargo, like Big Lebowski, is filled with existential humour.

        I love that in Fargo everyone, including native Americans, speaks with a Scandinavian accent – except the Swede Peter Stormare, who doesn’t speak at all.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted March 6, 2018 at 11:44 am | Permalink

        Yeah, I even have a soft spot for The Ladykillers, the Coens’ most critically panned film.

        I’d put Fargo and Miller’s Crossing and No Country in that peak class with Lebowski.

  14. glen1davidson
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Yes, waking up a cat might reduce its sleep time to a mere 17 hours per day.

    How would it cope?

    Glen Davidson

  15. PatrickQ
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Catman may not have had his own movie, but he was a recurring character on the animated show Fairly Odd Parents. He was even voiced by Adam West for a Batman connection.


    • glen1davidson
      Posted March 6, 2018 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Let us not forget the wise words of the Crimson Chin:

      Let him go, Cleft. His chin themed brand of evil can never triumph. For wherever there is a single blade of grass in the lawn of all that is good…No…Wait…As long as there is a single slice of justice on the deli-tray that is goodness, our sandwich of righteousness will always be a low-fat and delicious victory!

      Glen Davidson

  16. DrBeydon
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    That bridge building segment needs to be accompanied by Raymond Scott’s Powerhouse

  17. Posted March 6, 2018 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    And why doesn’t Cat-Man have any claws? Not so super.

  18. Michael Fisher
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 2:16 pm | Permalink


    “More jacksnipe bobbing as they walk. Would someone please tell me why these birds do this? (Note everyone freezing at 12 seconds in.)”

    I hunted around on google & the consensus opinion is it relates to depth perception while feeding – the eyes being too far apart around the skull for binocular vision, but I have doubts. Here’s a vid showing the feeding behaviour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3q1UI0oh86Y

    Another theory is that it disturbs their target food of insects & earthworms

    Another is that the bobbing mimics the motion of lapping water to make them harder to see

    Why on a flat open space as per your video? Why do those four snipes move in concert as if in a dance? Unfortunately we don’t get to see why they freeze suddenly – did the ‘point man’ [leading with a big gap & taking the maximum risk], freeze first & the other three copied?

    A great puzzle

  19. Dale Franzwa
    Posted March 7, 2018 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    Hili proves that cats have free will. Their human staff don’t.

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