Tuesday: Hili dialogue

by Grania

Good morning from a rainy, grey Ireland.

At least we are not the only ones experiencing sucky weather.

From Twitter:

A fly you probably haven’t seen before.

The critter in flight

Cats are cats, no matter the century.

Speaking of cats, Hili is discussing her most favorite subject of all time: food.

Marta: Do you like such sausages?
Hili: I suspect that I like them very much.

In Polish:

Marta: Lubisz takie kiełbaski?
Hili: Zdaje się, że bardzo.

Other cats are contemplating adventure and far horizons.

Leon: So? Are we going to fly?

Matthew found the eponymous scaredy-cat

And a cunning disguise.

JAC addendum: my friend Andrew Berry found this toilet seat in Hong Kong and sent me the photo with a note:

I’m surprised to find that in these parts the image you use to represent yourself online (ceiling cat) has made it on to toilet seats.  I confess to being impressed by the reach of your brand. But you might want to talk to your licensing people about whether bog seat decoration is the right direction for you as you lay the foundations of your globalization strategy.

Back to Grania:

Instead of world history, today I am going to do some vicarious eating. (Blame the weather).

There’s an eclectic bunch of Youtubers who cover cuisine that you may not be able to get in local neighborhood. Here are my favorites.

TabiEats hails from Japan and has a mixture of reviews and recipes of local Japanese food by Shinichi and his partner Satoshi. Shinichi grew up in Hawaii so he has an instinctive feel for what Westerners need to have explained to them and what they will find weird or strange.

Mark Wiens lives in Thailand and has traveled all over the world to sample local delicacies and street food.

The Food Ranger, a.k.a. Trevor James, is a Canadian living in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. He specializes in street food and has traveled the world in search of food that Westerners often never get to see or try. If you want to see food from remote places that are far off the beaten track, this one’s for you.

Canadian husband and wife team, Simon & Martina used to live in Korea but have now moved to Japan. Their channel covers more than just food, and includes (mostly) urban life, culture, customs from the view point of a foreigner living abroad.

Chris Broad is British and living in Japan. His channel Abroad in Japan is not only about food, and is from the perspective of a foreigner visiting Japan. He is frequently joined by his friends Natsuki and Ryotaro who accompany him on food adventures across the Japanese countryside.


  1. Christopher
    Posted April 17, 2018 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    Indian street food. You’re killing me! What a mean nasty no good trick to pull on a guy who has to live on frozen pizzas and Raisin Bran!

    And speaking of mean and nasty, Kenneth R. Miller has a new book coming out, The Human Instinct: How We Evolved to Have Reason, Consciousness, and Free Will. In the brief summary attached to the announcement was a bit attacking Dawkins and Harris as claiming these things are “mere byproducts” and we are no more significant than any other creature. Sounds lovely, like he’s gearing up for a scientific cage match…get ready to rumble! He’s going to be giving a talk through Rainy Day Books in the Kansas City area if anyone is within driving distance.

    • Posted April 17, 2018 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      That’s interesting. Is his argument that reason could not have evolved and must therefore have been created (Wallace argued this way) or that reason is connected to truth and that this underwriting requires divine intervention (Ben Shapiro argues this way)? Or some other confection?
      For what its worth I think the answer that I would give (I dont know about Dawkins or Harris) is that reason (like life and consciousness) is not one thing at all–but a hodge-podge of many functional properties. In the case of reason I would also say that its quite recent, hardly species typcial and not directly selected for at all (rather like IQ). There aren’t any general problems–but a brain made up of a large number of functional modules (including some that look at one another) can appear to be a unified whole.

      • Christopher
        Posted April 17, 2018 at 9:39 am | Permalink

        I’m not sure what his exact argument is, and while I am curious, I am hesitant to buy the book. I have so many books, so little money or time, that it makes it hard for me to use my precious resources on things like this. Same reason I’ve never read Behe, the bible, the koran, dan brown…ok, one of those things are not like the other but…

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted April 17, 2018 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        I haven’t read Miller’s book, but I’d be interested [but NOT $26 RRP interested] in how an anti-ID, Catholic theist, evolutionist, but not theistic evolutionist, who also thinks science & religion can be best buddies, squares the circle on free will – which he must do to argue for the human uniqueness he believes in.

        In 2011 he argued that emergent properties & quantum physics can provide a solution for the problem of free will – absurd! I strongly doubt he has anything genuinely new to say if he still thinks that quantum indeterminacy has a connection to free will.

        Here is the blurb for the book & as you can see it gets off to a bad start by wrongly claiming that “most passionate advocates of the theory of evolution seem [weasel word!] to present it as bad news.”

        “A radical, optimistic exploration of how humans evolved to develop reason, consciousness, and free will.

        Lately, the most passionate advocates of the theory of evolution seem to present it as bad news. Scientists such as Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, and Sam Harris tell us that our most intimate actions, thoughts, and values are mere byproducts of thousands of generations of mindless adaptation. We are just one species among multitudes, and therefore no more significant than any other living creature.

        Now comes Brown University biologist Kenneth R. Miller to make the case that this view betrays a gross misunderstanding of evolution. Natural selection surely explains how our bodies and brains were shaped, but Miller argues that it’s not a social or cultural theory of everything. In The Human Instinct, he rejects the idea that our biological heritage means that human thought, action, and imagination are pre-determined, describing instead the trajectory that ultimately gave us reason, consciousness and free will. A proper understanding of evolution, he says, reveals humankind in its glorious uniqueness– one foot planted firmly among all of the creatures we’ve evolved alongside, and the other in the special place of self-awareness and understanding that we alone occupy in the universe.

        Equal parts natural science and philosophy, The Human Instinct is a moving and powerful celebration of what it means to be human.”

        Upon reflection – think I might have to be paid a fair amount to allocate time for this book, if the blurb is at all representative of the contents.

        • Christopher
          Posted April 17, 2018 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

          It looks like I may have been wrong about him visiting Kc, the newsletter just has the announcement for the sale of his new book, but no date scheduled. So in that case I can wait to find a used copy or a library copy if I do choose to do so. If he had been scheduled to talk, as I mis-read earlier, then I may have shelled out the dosh to get the book, which at Rainy Day is the price of admission (I’ve seen Dawkins and Kaku that way, autographs included) but I can wait now and save my money.

        • Posted April 17, 2018 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

          I’ve read most of the book and will say a bit more about it later.

        • Diane G.
          Posted April 18, 2018 at 3:40 am | Permalink

          Shit, he’s a biologist at Brown? I hope they have other faculty teaching evolution…

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted April 18, 2018 at 4:40 am | Permalink

            He gave the creationists a good kicking in 2005 when he served as lead witness in the Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial – defending the teaching of evolution in public schools.

            And this is a statement he made a few years back: “Like many other scientists who hold the Catholic faith, I see the Creator’s plan and purpose fulfilled in our universe, I see a planet bursting with evolutionary possibilities, a continuing creation in which the Divine Providence is manifest in every living thing. I see a science that tells us that there is indeed a design to life, and the name of that design is evolution”

            So I don’t mind Miller much, but his need to establish human uniqueness to prop up his Catholicism [which in turn absolutely depends on us not being slaves/puppets of god cos we have real free will] is one heck of a blind spot! I imagine his course at Brown for 18/19 year olds doesn’t explore such stuff.

            I’ve just discovered that the straw he’s now grasping at is a FQIx funded [eg indirectly Templeton funded probably] essay by Erik P Hoel on what he calls Causal Emergence – Hoel makes the fantastic claim that:

            Contrary to conventional scientific wisdom, conscious beings and other macroscopic entities might have greater influence over the future than does the sum of their microscopic components.

            You can read the Wired article about it HERE

            I’ve read it thrice & I’m seeing baloney hiding in the wording.

      • nicky
        Posted April 17, 2018 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

        “In the case of reason I would also say that its quite recent, hardly species typcial and not directly selected for at all (rather like IQ).” I can agree with that, but have
        some reservations about the “hardly species typical”.
        Frans de Waal, in his recent book “Are we smart enough to know how smart animals are?”, compares the reaching of solutions between apes and capuchins. While apes (ic. chimps) can ponder over a problem to reach a solution, the capuchin monkey (broad nosed monkeys, so less related to apes than all old world, narrow nosed, monkeys) “is a frenzied try-and-error machine. These monkeys are hyperactive, hypermanipulative, and afraid of nothing*. They try out a great variety of manipulations and possibilities, and once they discover something that works, they instantly learn from it. They don’t mind making tons of mistakes and rarely give up. There is not much pondering and thinking behind their behaviour: they are overwhelmingly action-driven. Even if these monkeys often end up with the same solutions as the apes, they seem to get there in an entirely different way.”
        How much different might the ways of corvids, cockatoos, or octopuses be?

        *note, that appears to be an apt description of my 2 youngest ones. So maybe FdW is mistaken here? Or did I unknowingly sire two little capuchins? Atavism? Or what? 🙂

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted April 17, 2018 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

          From personal observation of the human manipulation of physical objects [IKEA flat packs, jigsaw puzzles, manoeuvring furniture around staircase doglegs], there’s a very broad spectrum of ability! And yet some of the ‘thickos’ at such tests shine in other areas such as empathy & social engineering. I like how FdW doesn’t get involved in discussions on consciousness – a term too ill defined to be usefully employed.

          I think we have a poor understanding of the evolution of problem solving generally – we argue that we are so smart for social reasons & sexual selection [& that may be true], but if so there’s a few different routes to ‘smarts’ – how else to explain the flexible behaviour of octopuses? They are asocial nearly all their short lives & don’t learn from peers at all & yet it is claimed that they recognise individual keepers in captivity & respond appropriately.

          It is also true that ‘overthinking’ can slow innovation & thus a capuchin approach may accidentally produce solutions not amenable to a more chimp logical thought process.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted April 17, 2018 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      25th May you’ve got James Comey
      I bet the tickets are gone already!

  2. Michael Day
    Posted April 17, 2018 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    I love Mark Wiens! I’ve watched dozens of his videos. Subscribe to his YouTube channel; you won’t be disappointed.

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 17, 2018 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Cats are cats, no matter the century.

    Reminds me of what Louis Armstrong, the first American musician to tour behind the Iron Curtain, said at the airport on his return when asked by reporters what he thought of the fans in Communist countries: “Cats is cats wherever you go.”

    I love Pops for alotta reasons, and that quote is one of ’em.

  4. glen1davidson
    Posted April 17, 2018 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    I didn’t see the fly actually fly, but it does rub its two hind feet together like a housefly.

    It’s a weird little bug.

    Glen Davidson

  5. Posted April 17, 2018 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    A fly you’ve never seen? Not if you’ve been paying attention here! This from 2013:


    – MC

    • Diane G.
      Posted April 18, 2018 at 3:57 am | Permalink

      Hey, that was a great post–and I’d forgotten all about it, participant though I was…

      Great to reread given today’s mention.

  6. Jenny Haniver
    Posted April 17, 2018 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    That big old fraidy cat is quite funny. What are the striped birds?

    The twitter feed featuring the medieval cats has another amusing medieval image of a cat playing the violin. https://twitter.com/DamienKempf/status/986117548616888320

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted April 17, 2018 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Scroll down to the third image in the thread and there’s a very funny and ribald image of a cat. Though the cat has a bit of a cartoon face, for a medieval depiction of a cat, I don’t think it’s half bad. It looks like a cat’s face and I’ve seen cats with that expression, though not necessarily in that position engaged in that activity.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted April 17, 2018 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      The striped birdies are Aussie baby emus. Here is a fun vid, if you have the time, of baby emus on a mad run:

      View this post on Instagram

      Caption? 🙈

      A post shared by Life Of Shannen (@lifeofshannen) on

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted April 17, 2018 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the identification. They are cuties, but having a bit of experience with adult emus, if I were a cat, I’d be scurrying away, too. I can’t get the video to play, but found some other videos of baby emus, most notably one “playing” with some basset hounds. Basically, the bird would poke the bassets with its bill, but the dogs were so laid back that the birdie barely got a rise out of them, and the look on one of the dogs who was repeatedly poked and had its ear pulled, was both long suffering and expressive of bemused exasperation. But then I recall that bassets have that look, with or without being poked.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted April 17, 2018 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

          I found baby emu basset on YT thank you – most amusing. Also one of adult Dobermann Pinscher tolerating his floppy tongue being pecked. I assume adult animals somehow know when they’re dealing with babies of other species & dial back there defences.

          • Jenny Haniver
            Posted April 18, 2018 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

            I didn’t find that one, but did find one taken on a cell phone of a piglet chasing and being chased through a house by two emu chicks. Very silly. You can tell that they’re having immense fun.

  7. nicky
    Posted April 17, 2018 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    The question of the cat in the box has been answered, it is obviously alive, not dead, even while still in the box! Just a ploy by the cat, yet it wouldn’t fool a mouse.

  8. Posted April 17, 2018 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    We got between 15 and 18 inches (38-45 cm) of snow over this past weekend (13-Apr through 15-Apr). It pretty well snowed continuously for 48 hours. it’s a little hard to tell the exact total. It was a lot.

    I blew the snow three times. The middle instance took over an hour (and we don’t have a very big driveway).

    We live in a suburb outside of Minneapolis/St. Paul.

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