Thursday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on Thursday, April 12, 2018, National Licorice Day (I don’t much like the stuff, except for Licorice Allsorts in the UK, which I love). It’s also the International Day of Human Space Flight, celebrated because it was on April 12, 1961, when Yuri Gagarin became the first human to go into space, orbiting the Earth once (see below).

On this day in 1861, the Civil War effectively began, with the Confederates firing on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.  On April 12, 1877, the UK annexed the Transvaal. And here’s something you may not have known; as Wikipedia reports for this day in 1928, “The Bremen, a German Junkers W 33 type aircraft, takes off for the first successful transatlantic aeroplane flight from east to west.” This wasn’t a solo flight (it had three crew members), but was only a year after Lindberg’s solo crossing in the opposite direction. On this day in 1934, the strongest gust of wind recorded up to that time, 231 mph (372 kph) was recorded atop of Mount Washington in New Hampshire. But that’s been surpassed; again Wikipedia: “The fastest wind speed not related to tornadoes ever recorded was during the passage of Tropical Cyclone Olivia on 10 April 1996: an automatic weather station on Barrow Island, Australia, registered a maximum wind gust of 408 km/h (220 kn; 253 mph; 113 m/s).” On April 12, 1945, Franklin Roosevelt died in office; he was at his vacation home in Georgia, which I visited a few years back, and his mistress was there. She quickly took off after the death (cerebral hemorrhage) so that the press and Eleanor Roosevelt wouldn’t get wind of his dalliances.  On this day in 1955, after a field trial of over 200,000 volunteers, Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine was declared “safe and effective.”  Exactly six years later, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in outer space, orbiting the Earth one time in his Vostok 1 spacecraft. Finally, exactly two decades after that, the first launch of a space shuttle—the Columbia—took place.

Notables born on this day include Henry Clay (1777), Imogen Cunningham (1883), Jan Tinbergen (1903), Benjamin Libet, who disproved free will (1916), Ann Miller (1923), Tiny Tim (1932), Herbie Hancock (1940), David Letterman (1947), David Cassidy (1950) and Claire Danes (1979). Those who fell asleep on this day include Clara Barton (1912), Franklin D. Roosevelt (1945; see above), Joe Louis (1981), Alan Paton (1988) and Abbie Hoffmann (1989).

Cunningham is another favorite photographer of mine; here is her portrait of Frida Kahlo taken in 1931:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is sitting next to a folk carving of Jesus, but she’s not buying it:

A: What are you doing?
Hili: I’m sitting and doubting.
In Polish:

A: Co tam robisz?
Hili: Siedzę i wątpię.

Grania found a tweet which sounds funny, but I worry about what happened to the cat:

Here are old Soviet posters decrying war and nuclear weapons:

Kitten pals, and there’s nothing cuter:

Frog telling other frogs off (sound up, please):

I’ll scratch your back; you scratch mine:

A hiccuping cat; note that the eyes dilate during the hiccup:

Philomena boasts of her special privilege, but was apparently doing this on the sly:

Look at this polite but efficient British policeman, using a taser to take down a knife-wielding man:

Tweets from Matthew, this one with Malurus coronatus:

This is part of a series showing how ancient manuscripts that were damaged were fixed by people living at the time:

For the geophysics geeks, of which Matthew is one:

Do read the letter in the second tweet if you have time:

For evolution nerds, there will be a play about W.D. Hamilton and John Maynard Smith and their claim to have “discovered” kin selection. George Price doesn’t seem to be featured.

And from reader Dom, a cat—drawn properly at last!

From reader Barry, an excellent tweet. I am betting this took place in Turkey:

Everyone would like to train their cat to do this. Charles Mingus, the great jazz musician, in fact wrote a book about how to toilet train your cat.


  1. Posted April 12, 2018 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    The Hamilton/Maynard Smith play is a sequel to a previous play done by this group, which was about Price. More in the link on the tweet. Sadly I won’t be there… Hope some London readers can go and give us the low-down. – MC

  2. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Well, licorice allsorts are 70% not licorice, of course. (Not sure what the coloured bits are, except some sort of sugar icing)

    (… munching on one)

    • Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      All licorice is not really all licorice, is it? Most have a lot of sugar, corn syrup, and some kind of edible plastic it is all mixed with. Ok, I know it’s not really plastic.

  3. Mike
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Licourice Allsorts are the wife’s favourite sweet ,she has a stash in a Tin,lol

  4. busterggi
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Kittens – so sweet they eat one another.

    Nice to see how a real police officer works, wish the US had some.

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    I believe today is also grilled cheese day?

    Lincoln made sure the confederates fired the first shots of the war.

  6. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    What is that ‘massaging’ motion that cats do, the thing that’s happening in the Emergency Kittens video? Our old cats used to do that when climbing on us, sitting on out laps. It’s such a specific routine to go through I’ve always wondered if there’s an actual explanation for why they do it.

    My opinion(and it’s only an opinion of course) is that they’re trying to moonwalk, but their claws cause too much friction for them to pull it off successfully.

    • Don Quijote
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      I think cats do that massaging thing because it’s what they do with their mothers to get milk. Not an expert though so I could be wrong.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:26 am | Permalink

        Interesting. But why would they keep doing it through adulthood? Isn’t that maladaptive, or at least pointless?

        • Dave
          Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

          I’ve always interpreted this “massaging” or “kneading” behaviour as a holdover from the kitten milk-suckling stage. As to why adult cats still do it, most cat species are naturally solitary, so I would guess that in the wild they’d rarely or never get the opportunity to express this behaviour after leaving their mothers. In a captive/domestic situation, they stay at least partly attached to a surrogate parent their entire lives, and I imagine they carry on showing juvenile behaviour patterns as a result. “Maladaptive” doesn’t really matter to a domestic cat, and if gets the cat some fusses and attention from the “owner” it’s not pointless.

          • busterggi
            Posted April 12, 2018 at 11:22 am | Permalink

            You clearly don’t live with 10 cats. Kneading is definately something cats do to their ‘parents’ as social contact. None of the ones I did not raise from kittens do this to me except rarely while those I ‘parented’ do quite often.

            They knead, they purr, I bleed. How happy we are!

            • Saul Sorrell-Till
              Posted April 12, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

              “They knead, they purr, I bleed. How happy we are!”

              The parent-child relationship summed up in a single sentence.

    • Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      For a long time I thought that it was to rid an area of insects before lying down. Obviously they do it other times too. Of course, behaviors evolve.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      As Don Quijote says it relates to nursing. Supposedly it has the effect of stimulating Mum to continue to produce milk. If you watch kittens being bottle fed they all push with their front paws on the bottle or the feeder’s hand. I also speculate [I really don’t know] that it’s because cats have 6 or 8 nipples & ‘kneading’ is like ringing the bell for “service mum!” – perhaps more milk goes to [or is manufactured near] the nipples being kneaded . I stress this is wild speculation as I don’t know the biology of milk production – perhaps someone with a PhD in lactology can chime in. 🙂

      I’ve noticed bottle fed bear cubs of all types do it too. Incidentally Mummy bear has 6 nipples – the bottom pair nearest the pelvis ‘operate’ first & the cubs, as they grow switch to the higher nipples which come ‘on stream’ later [the bottom pair of nipples then switch off].

      Why do some weaned cats continue to knead bedding, people, other cats, dogs etc.? I have read that it’s partly to check the area to make sure it’s safe to settle there, but I strongly doubt this explanation. I think it’s for the same reason that some kiddos & some adults suck their thumbs – for comfort & calming. I’ve observed cats kneading & they usually also start to purr & have an intense, dreamy look about them. Tripping mentally when in a place or situation where they feel safe.

  7. barn owl
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    What breed of cats are those in the “kitty cat massage” video? They’re beautiful – I love the coat color!

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      99% sure, they’re the beautiful British golden chinchilla cat, or more correctly a variety of British shorthair. Sturdy build, wide chest & wide face. The Cheshire Cat was one though not that colour variety. READ THIS WIKI

      • barn owl
        Posted April 12, 2018 at 10:31 am | Permalink

        Thanks! When I lived in London, one of our neighbors had a massive “British Blue” shorthair named Baby, and my flatmates’ cat was terrified of him. We lived terraced housing, so he could lounge with insouciance on top of the garden wall or shed, and our cat would not venture outside for fear of him. One flatmate convinced me to bring home a 60cc syringe from the lab (we used them to filter cell culture medium), so he could unleash a stream of water on the unsuspecting Baby from our kitchen window. Flatmate was very protective of his little cat!

  8. glen1davidson
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    This wasn’t a solo flight (it had three crew members), but was only a year after Lindberg’s solo crossing in the opposite direction.

    But then, the first nonstop transatlantic flight was in 1919, but British John Alcock and Arthur Brown. Lindbergh’s 1928 flight was the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic.

    Glen Davidson

  9. Rita
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Be careful not to over-consume licorice:

    • glen1davidson
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      It’s laxative at higher amounts, too.

      Which might be welcome–or not.

      Glen Davidson

    • Acolyte of Sagan
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      I once gave a friend’s two-year-old daughter a Pontefract cake; the friend still hasn’t forgiven me for the child’s nappies the following day.

  10. Posted April 12, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    372 kph winds on Mount Washington?? Wow. I do remember it being windy there, but …

  11. Curt Nelson
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Wow, the guy with the knives… I’d have expected them to shoot him. What good policing that was.

  12. Posted April 12, 2018 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Now if Hili was a real cat she’d push that Jesus carving off the mantelshelf.

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