Wednesday: Hili dialogue

Well, it’s Wednesday, March 21, 2018, and Spring is in its first 24 hours. That means it’s National French Bread Day, and, apropos, I’m having a baguette tonight. It’s also International Colour Day, World Poetry Day, and, in Poland and the Faroe Islands (!), Truant’s Day, when school kids play hooky.

News: A suspect in the Austin bombings is dead, apparently killing himself with another bomb in his car as police closed in. The deceased is described as a 24 year old white male; no name was given. Kudos to the police for tracking him down so quickly.

More news: Ringo Starr was knighted! (For longevity?) Here’s his announcement. Sir Ringo! (Or would it be “Sir Richard”?)

And today’s Google Doodle celebrates Mexican astronomer Guillermo Haro (1913-1988), noted for discovering and mapping nebulae and blue stars. Here he is among the stars:

It was a tame day for historical events, births, and deaths. On this day in 1556, Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was executed for treason by burning at the stake. On March 21, 1804, the Napoleonic Code became the basis for French civil Law. On this day in 1871, journalist Henry Stanley began his trip to Africa to find David Livingstone. He found him in November of that year.  A day for evolutionists to remember: on March 21, 1925, Tennessee’s Butler Act was passed, prohibiting the teaching of HUMAN evolution (not evolution, as most people think) in Tennessee. That of course led to the Scopes Trial the same year, Scopes’s conviction, but a general victory for evolutionary biology.  On this day in 1935, the Shah of Iran, Reza Shah Pahlavi, requested that all countries call “Persia” by its native name: Iran. And so it has become.  On this day in 1963, the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, in San Francisco Bay, was closed. It’s still accessible on a government tour, and I recommend you take it if you’re in San Francisco.  Finally, it was on March 21, 2006, that Twitter was founded. People have been squabbling on it ever since, but it has one use:

Notables born on March 21 include Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. (1867), Son House (1902), Éric Rohmer (1920), and Cenk “No Armenian Genocide” Uygur (1970). The only deaths of note on this day were Thomas Cranmer (1556; see above) and Pocahontas (1617).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is kvetching. I was a bit puzzled, but Malgorzata again came to the rescue: “Hili wants a definite answer. She doesn’t like ‘probably’. ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ are proper words—not some some stupid ‘probably’.”

Hili: If I understand correctly, the winter is behind us.
A: Probably.
Hili: That’s a very stupid word.

In Polish:
Hili: Jeśli dobrze rozumiem, to zimę mamy za sobą.
Ja: Prawdopodobnie.
Hili: To bardzo głupie słowo.

Up in Winnipeg, Gus is chilling on the deck. His staff notes, “Here’s a Gus pic from yesterday morning. He’s on the deck,  which is wet from the bit of snow that was coming down. The blip on his face in the photo is a snowflake.” Note he’s wearing his harness and leash, as required by law.

This tweet came from reader Barry, who notes, “I’m surprised to see how long it took for it to read the riot act.”

Some tweets from Matthew. First, Millie the Mountaineering Cat! Be sure to watch the video with sound on.

Proud parents and their kittens:

I love ducks!

Really? There were marine sloths?

I believe I’ve posted this before, but you can’t see it too often:

A cosmologist discovers Mars—yesterday!



  1. glen1davidson
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Marine sloths grew to 2.1 m long, according to one source, and the fossils are found in Peru and Chile. Interesting animal.

    Glen Davidson

    • nicky
      Posted March 21, 2018 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      Yes, apparently it is well established they were semi and fully aquatic. The bone density and narrowing of the medullar canal in the bones is the strongest argument, combined with the proportions of the limbs. Apparently -deduced from coprolites- they fed on seagrass, also a good indicator. There is not much to be found on taphonomy on the net though.
      I have no idea as to why, but for one reason or other it gives me quite a bit of joy and satisfaction to know there were aquatic sloths. 🙂

      • GBJames
        Posted March 21, 2018 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        Coprolites from a sea-living animal?

  2. GBJames
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Did marine sloths swim reaaaaaaaaaly slowly?

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    A good ending to the Austin bomber and thanks to the great work of our FBI, ATF and all law enforcement. You know, the same people that our Putin government leader is always attempting to degrade and attack when he is not handing out NDAs.

    • Posted March 21, 2018 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      I wouldn’t describe the wasting of a young life as good.

      • GBJames
        Posted March 21, 2018 at 8:27 am | Permalink

        Can you describe the elimination of a continuing bomb threat as good?

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted March 21, 2018 at 8:29 am | Permalink

        What would you request, that he blow up a few more people before blowing up himself. The good and only good I speak of is that he cannot now murder any more people. Is that not a good thing? His life was wasted when he went into this line of work.

        • Posted March 21, 2018 at 8:58 am | Permalink

          It would have been a good ending if they had caught him without further loss of life. It would have been a good ending if he had been stopped before anybody died. It would have been good if whatever problem he had that caused him to do this had been recognised earlier so this whole incident didn’t happen.

          There’s nothing good about this story. Relief that he will not kill anybody else is appropriate, nothing more.

          • GBJames
            Posted March 21, 2018 at 9:26 am | Permalink

            That he will not kill anyone else is not good? Jeepers.

            • Posted March 21, 2018 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

              No, it’s better than him killing more people but it is not good in any absolute sense.

              This is a terrible episode in which people died, but celebrating the death of somebody, even a murderer, is not something I will do.

              • GBJames
                Posted March 21, 2018 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

                “Good” is rarely found in absolute forms. Your use of the word “better” indicates that you recognize this fact.

                This fellow was a continuing threat to his fellow citizens. He blew himself up. There are plenty more important things to feel sad about than his suicide.

              • Posted March 23, 2018 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

                “A good ending” sounds to me like Randall was talking in fairly absolute terms. |It’s a better ending than if the bomber had been able to carry on, but try asking the relatives of the victims or even those of the bomber if they can think of anything good about what happened.

      • glen1davidson
        Posted March 21, 2018 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

        I would call finding and stopping the killer a good thing.

        What he does when cornered is not really under the control of law enforcement. He apparently preferred death, while SWAT was trying to take him alive.

        So what’s the problem, that they caught a person who would rather commit suicide than be taken alive? Shouldn’t they attempt to capture such a person as soon as possible even if he’d kill himself? And anyway, how would they know until they caught him?

        I think they did fairly well in catching him relativey early. His ultimate fate was out of their control.

        Glen Davidson

        • Jonathan Wallace
          Posted March 21, 2018 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

          I don’t see that JP criticized the police in any way or suggested they could have stopped the bomber from blowing himself up. Every sane and reasonable person is surely relieved that the bombing campaign in Texas is over (i assume it was just the one person acting alone).

          The responsibility for the way it ended was his but it would certainly have been far better if he had surrendered without blowing himself up. Apart from anything else I believe a policeman was injured by his suicidal explosion and the death of the bomber also means he cannot be questioned to ascertain if he has left other bombs anywhere, why he did it, if he was a member of, working for or inspired by any particular group etc, etc.

          And even if the bomber was entirely responsible for the entire sequence of events, the loss of his own life was one more regrettable result of his actions in addition to all the innocent victims of his campaign of bombing.

          • glen1davidson
            Posted March 21, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

            I don’t see that JP criticized the police in any way or suggested they could have stopped the bomber from blowing himself up

            Then what’s the point?

            So it would have been better if he lived. He didn’t think so, and committed suicide. What are you going to do about it except state a number of obvious points?

            I don’t see the point of doing anything but congratulating law enforcement for apparently doing a pretty good job.

            Glen Davidson

  4. jaxkayaker
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Why the Alcatraz recommendation? What’s the appeal?

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted March 21, 2018 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      Well, to me the appeal is first and foremost the location. Out in San Francisco Bay between the great cities of San Fran and Oakland. They take tours out to the rock and take you through the prison. You can eat the great food and sourdough in San Francisco after you get back. It is just paradise, nothing special.

    • Posted March 21, 2018 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      I visited Alactraz in 2000. It’s a very interesting historical tour. You get to see where Al Capone, Clint Eastwood and Burt Lancaster were locked up. Since my visit Sean Connery has also been incarcerated there.

      • Posted March 21, 2018 at 8:38 am | Permalink

        Yes, that’s the reason to visit. Not only to see the history there, but to see the pretty dreadful cells where people were forced to live. Also, they could actually see the city tantalizingly close (and smell food from time to time!), which shows you how torturous it was, and yet how inaccessible. (There’s no proof that anybody ever successfully escaped from Alcatraz.)

        • Posted March 21, 2018 at 9:04 am | Permalink

          Further to my slightly flippant previous post, it really gave an interesting insight into the US penal system during the mid-twentieth century and you really got a sense of what it might be like to be locked up there.

          If you are visiting San Francisco as a tourist, it is on the must see list IMO.

          • David Coxill
            Posted March 21, 2018 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

            Agreed ,but the spaces on the boat ride out sell out very quickly .
            Have you had a ride on the DUKW’S ,(no Doc not those type of Ducks )?

            Afterwards you get to keep the yellow quacker things they give you.

            • Posted March 21, 2018 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

              no. as time I was in SF was 17 years ago and I only had a weekend for sight seeing as I was there on business.

        • jaxkayaker
          Posted March 21, 2018 at 10:17 am | Permalink

          Thank you. I lived in SF for 2 years and never visited, even when family came to see me and wanted to go. I discouraged them because it seemed to me to be a pile of stones.

          Of course, I don’t think SF is that great either.

          Castillo de San Marco in Saint Augustine is a pile of rocks with more historical significance, in my opinion, but don’t advise visiting more than once. Even then, it’s generally enough to see it from outside.

          • GBJames
            Posted March 21, 2018 at 10:32 am | Permalink

            I’m guessing that you aren’t much inclined to visit archaeological sites.

            • jaxkayaker
              Posted March 21, 2018 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

              Actually, I am and have participated in a dig of a native American site once thought to be a possible hiding place of Osceola. I’ll pass on prisons, though.

              • GBJames
                Posted March 21, 2018 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

                Just a pile of stones.

        • glen1davidson
          Posted March 21, 2018 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

          Many liked the cells relative to those in other prisons, mainly because a prisoner had a cell to himself. That meant it was a lot safer, since a criminal as a cell mate introduces danger of assault, from physical to sexual.

          They were rather small, though, and cold.

          Glen Davidson

        • Posted March 21, 2018 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

          Shame that James Randi isn’t well, him trying to do it would be fun.

        • David Coxill
          Posted March 21, 2018 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

          But the Mythbuster’s in one of their programmes proved that it was possible .
          I am thinking of the escape attempt made by 3 convicts .
          All that was found was the remains of their dinghy they made out of a rain coat .

    • glen1davidson
      Posted March 21, 2018 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      Criminals who committed gruesome crimes, gangsters, desperate escape attempts (with the question of whether the Anglins made it still unresolved), a shootout that left guards and prisoners dead, dreadful punishments in solitary, a dramatic location (look up and see Golden Gate Bridge close by), and to maybe get some idea of what it would be like to be imprisoned there.

      Don’t want that? Then don’t go.

      What surprised me a bit recently was finding that Alcatraz only had a capacity of 312. Not that big by today’s standards, at least. You had to be famous like Capone, good at escape, or a particularly dangerous sort of criminal (not sentenced to death) to end up incarcerated there.

      Glen Davidson

  5. jaxkayaker
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    In reading that Twitter (sorry, Jerry) thread, the tweet Jerry posted was alleged to be a Photoshop of the original. Here’s an article with the original.

    • Posted March 21, 2018 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the correction; I thought this one looks different from the one I remember posting. The original is better!

    • nicky
      Posted March 21, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      They are absolutely marvelous photographs anyway.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    “National French Bread Day” — And for those who don’t have bread, qu’ils mangent de la brioche?

  7. Diana MacPherson
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    An Iranian once told me “we’ve always called ourselves Iranians”. I told him that I didn’t know any better because I learned Persian from the Ancient Greeks, who seemed to have a lot of run-ins with his ancestors.

  8. rickflick
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    When I read “…Truant’s Day, when school kids play hooky.” I got the urge to know where the word “hooky” came from. Big disappointment. This is all I found:


    mid 19th century (originally US): of unknown origin.

    Maybe it comes from the idea that a Truant officer would eventually capture (hook, as in a fishing hook) the recalcitrants.

  9. Roger
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    I dream of one day making a baguette that looks like a baguette is supposed to look lol.

  10. Posted March 21, 2018 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    It is now Sir Richard as he was knighted using his real name, Richard Starkey.

  11. Posted March 21, 2018 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    There are several underwater shots online that show a Kingfisher snagging a fish. They are truly amazing. I would post one in this comment but I’ve never figured out how to markup comments properly. Need instructions! I could experiment but not without making a mess that everyone else would have to endure.

  12. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Now we call the country formerly known as Persia Iran, but we still have Persian cats and Persian rugs.

    Similarly, the city formerly Anglicized as Peking is now Beijing, but there is still a Peking Duck restaurant 2 miles from my house.

    • Posted March 21, 2018 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      And don’t forget Persian food! We have a lot of Iranian immigrants in my area and they often (usually?) refer to themselves as Persian.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 21, 2018 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Now I have that Istanbul not Constantinople song in my head:

      Istanbul was Constantinople
      Now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople
      Been a long time gone, Oh Constantinople
      Now it’s Turkish delight on a moonlit night
      Every gal in Constantinople
      Lives in Istanbul, not Constantinople
      So if you’ve a date in Constantinople
      She’ll be waiting in Istanbul
      Even old New York was once New Amsterdam
      Why they changed it I can’t say
      People just liked it better that way
      So, Take me back to Constantinople
      No, you can’t go back to Constantinople
      Been a long time gone, Oh Constantinople
      Why did Constantinople get the works?
      That’s nobody’s business but the Turks

      • nicky
        Posted March 21, 2018 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        And you did not even mention Byzantium!

    • David Coxill
      Posted March 21, 2018 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      Not to mention Bombay mix .

  13. grasshopper
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    French bread: such a pain.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 21, 2018 at 2:42 pm | Permalink


    • Posted March 22, 2018 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      A very Canadian pun :). My other example of such. A friend of mine was celebrating her birthday for the first time since my knowing her and I asked when it was in February. She said: “What do they grow a lot of in Saskatchewan?”

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted March 22, 2018 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        Ha ha language jokes are the best! I posted one on my FB that reads: “No matter how kind you are, German children are Kinder”. I’m sure some people just found it offensive, not knowing the joke.

  14. David Coxill
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Re the cat parents ,i thought male cats didn’t help raise kittens ?

    But whenever one of my male cats bring some prey inside they give a particular kind of Meow and the others run and see what he has brought inside.

  15. David Coxill
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    The twenty first of March 1918 is the day the German army started their attacks on the Western front ,using all the troops from the Eastern front that came available following the Russian revolution .

  16. Posted March 21, 2018 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    I really love the kingfisher pic. Its back looks like it’s glowing.

  17. Dale Franzwa
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    C’mon, Jerry. Pocahontas died in 1617? She, who guided Lewis and Clark on their famous trek across the Rockies to the Pacific Coast, early 1800s? How come I was the only one to catch this? Was there an earlier Pocahontas in history I’m not familiar with?

    • glen1davidson
      Posted March 21, 2018 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

      When did Sacajawea marry John Rolfe, then?

      Glen Davidson

      • Posted March 22, 2018 at 11:30 am | Permalink

        My Inuk friend Raven thought it would have been useful (for cross cultural understanding and to overcome prudery) if they’d actually shown what Pocohontas would have looked like and dressed like in the Disney movie. Of course, then the Christian Right would have flipped – there really *would* be topless women, but … 😉

        • Dale Franzwa
          Posted March 23, 2018 at 12:47 am | Permalink

          Oops, my bad. Trump must be getting to me. Thanks guys for correcting me.

  18. Posted March 22, 2018 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Another notable birth: Joseph Fourier (1768; 250 years ago) of Fourier transform fame.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted March 23, 2018 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      I didn’t know he was trans.
      Sorry, I didn’t know she was trans. They must have been around though – sex didn’t start in 1960.

      English really needs to drag “one” out of monarchical plurality and have a non-gendered pronoun which isn’t associated with being non-human.

%d bloggers like this: