Wednesday: Hili dialogue

It’s Hump Day: Wednesday, May 30, 2018: National Mint Julep Day. It’s also Indian Arrival Day in Trinidad and Tobago, which gave rise to the delicious and culturally appropriated Trinidadian roti.

Before I recount This Day in History, we have the Underground Sign of the Month, sent by Matthew:

On this day in 1431, Jean of Arc, only 19 years old, was burned at the stake by the English and the Burgundians. On May 30, 1536, Henry VIII of England married Jane Seymour, who had been a lady-in-waiting to his first two wives. She wasn’t beheaded, but died in childbirth after having given birth to a son who became King Edward VI.  On this day in 1588, the last ship of the ill-fated Spanish Armada left Lisbon on its way to attack England. As you know, the Armada came a cropper, as the Brits say. On this day in 1845, a ship coming from India brought the first Indians to Trinidad and Tobago, which is why it’s Indian Arrival Day in that country (see above). In 1911, the first running of the Indianapolis 500 motor race took place; if you know your racing, you’ll know that the winner was Ray Harroun in his Marmon Wasp. It took him 6 hours, 42 minutes and 8 seconds: an average speed of 74.602 mph. Here’s the winner:

On May 30, 1943, Josef Mengele became the chief medical officer at the Romani section of Auschwitz. It is proof of the nonexistence of God that Mengele died in Brazil in 1979 (he had a stroke while swimming), never having come to justice.  Finally, on this day in 1989, a 33-foot high “Goddess of Democracy” statue was unveiled in Tiananmen Square by protesting students (click on the link to see it). It was destroyed five days later by soldiers.

Notables born on May 30 include Irving Thalberg (1899), Mel Blanc (1908), Benny Goodman (1909), Nobel Laureat Julius Axelrod (1912), Irish writer Colm Tóibín (1955), and Wynona Judd (1964). Do watch this clip of Blanc on the Letterman show:

Those who died on this day include Joan of Arc (1431; see above), Peter Paul Rubens (1640), Alexander Pope (1744), Voltaire (1778), Wilbur Wright (1912), Hermann Broch (1951), Boris Pasternak (1960), Leó Szilárd (1964), and Tex Beneke (2000).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili gives the answer which can never be given accurately.

A: Hili, are you asleep?
Hili: You guessed it.
In Polish:
Ja: Hili, śpisz?
Hili: Zgadłeś.

In Winnipeg there is splendor in the grass:


From Monika: why do snow leopards bite their tails. This tweet shows a whole thread of them. Are their tails tasty?

From Grania, another example of a cat resting in what seems to be an uncomfortable—if not impossible—position:

A kangaroo can’t use a trampoline, FCS!

The meaning of this sign, which seems to have gone viral, is unclear to me:

From Matthew:

Why does this insect move this way? (I have a guess.)

Big fail: I think she tossed her cellphone to the birds!

This is the second time this happened; go to the link to see how:

A photo from Hawaii:

And some footage of the eruption of Kilauea:

Salticid (jumping spider), also called, for obvious reasons, a “spider ant”. Look at those colors!

Here’s a video of the above:

A cat with moxie:

And here’s me in my new “Cats” baseball shirt, which I got new, but for a pittance, on eBay. I don’t know what team it’s from, but it does show I’m always on Team Cat:


  1. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted May 30, 2018 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    That stick insect – that seems to be fairly standard for the way they move.

    My guess is twofold – first, they look more like twigs blowing in the breeze. And second, the movement is disconcerting and vaguely threatening.

    Love the skier/waterskier, by the way.


    • Dominic
      Posted May 30, 2018 at 7:11 am | Permalink

      Also harder for a jumping spider to pin down?

      That was me tweeting the sheep!

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted May 30, 2018 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        But I bet it’s no match that crazy jumping spider ant.

    • Lurker111
      Posted May 30, 2018 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      I thought it would be akin to the way chameleons move–it allows them to see the environment from two different spots using only one eye, thus approximating binocular vision and distance perception.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 30, 2018 at 8:11 am | Permalink

        Except chameleons need the distance perception (I think) for aiming purposes, which may not apply to stick insects?

        (But I’m not an entomologist so I’m purely speculating)


      • Dominic
        Posted May 30, 2018 at 8:32 am | Permalink

        Good idea…

    • Posted May 30, 2018 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      My guess would be that the stick insect is mimicking wind-blown movement. Some folk have experimentally tested this and shown that the initiation of movement is stimulated (but not continued) by wind action

  2. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 30, 2018 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    “In Winnipeg there is splendor in the grass

    An allusion to the Elia Kazan movie or the William Wordsworth poem?

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 30, 2018 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    I think the sign means (as my mom used to say to my dad, my brother, and me) “please aim.”

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 30, 2018 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      In fact that trajectory might be (approximately) possible in a rotating space station, I think. Though even then it would require, I think, much practice and extreme precision of aim. 😉


    • Posted May 30, 2018 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      It looks like the guy’s aim is mighty good. He bullseyed the bowl.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted May 30, 2018 at 9:37 am | Permalink

        Trick shot artiste, just showin’ off.

    • Robert
      Posted May 30, 2018 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      I tried and tried but couldn’t do it.

      • nicky
        Posted May 30, 2018 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

        That is because you’re not in a rotating space station. Here on Earth the trajectory would be more or less parabolic.

    • Posted May 30, 2018 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      Reminds me of a well known sign in a similar vein:

      “We aim to please. You aim too, please!”

  4. Posted May 30, 2018 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Google Translate says:

    Me: Hili, are you asleep?
    Hili: You guessed it.

  5. barn owl
    Posted May 30, 2018 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Mind the Goose!

    • barn owl
      Posted May 30, 2018 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      Stand clear the birds, please.

  6. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted May 30, 2018 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    That video footage of Kilauea is spectacular!

    Incidentally, the close-in shots of lava erupting and splashing are curiously hard to ‘scale’. Very difficult to say whether the image is a foot across or a hundred feet.


  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 30, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    The “Cats” shirt looks to be a takeoff on this style jersey from your hometown Cubbies.

    • mamerica1
      Posted May 30, 2018 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      I think it might be a jersey for the Forth Worth Cats, who existed in various incarnations as minor league and independent league teams (including as an affiliate of the Cubs for several years in the 1950’s and 60’s). I can’t find a jersey that matches the one Professor Coyne is wearing, though.

      There are also a bunch of other minor league teams with similar names – the Sacramento River Cats, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, and the Carolina Mud Cats – so it could easily be one of those, as well.

  8. Posted May 30, 2018 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Indy 500 photo:

    Sloping wheels:

    Vertically-driven curtain shutter, with the slit moving top to bottom (image is inverted inside the camera).

    • Posted May 30, 2018 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      Thanks; I’ve always wondered how that was done.

    • nicky
      Posted May 30, 2018 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

      Those sloping wheels were then used in cartoons to give an impression of speed.

  9. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 30, 2018 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Nice video of Kilauea, actually referred to as the PUUOO eruptions that begin 35 years ago 1983. Hard to believe it has been that long as 1983 was the year I moved to Hawaii for a five year period. Made it over to the big Island once, maybe 85. At that time you could visit all the tourist areas around and on the mountain although there were a few closed roads.

  10. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted May 30, 2018 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    The Russian moggie with the moxie seems to make a habit of it.

    (Same kafe, same cat, different occasion)


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 30, 2018 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      And in case anyone wondered (okay, I know you didn’t!), this is in the city of Cheboksary on the Volga, 400 miles east of Moscow. In a side street off Ulitsa Kosmonavta Nikolayeva A. Gorod, to be more precise. Ain’t Google Maps / Streetview wonderful? 😉

      It staggers me how much information on the world there is in Google.


      • Posted May 30, 2018 at 11:48 am | Permalink

        So if I ever make it to Cheboksary, I know where to eat!

        Now, are there any good reviews, before that?

        Looks like the Russian equivalent of all the “frites” stands here.

        • loren russell
          Posted May 30, 2018 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

          The original [Dick King-
          Smith] cat is so similar to our mom-cat Sierra in her favorite feeding posture that I had to look twice to see if she’s been dining out. This one has a bob-tail though, while Sierra’s a rumpy-riser Manx.

      • nicky
        Posted May 30, 2018 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

        Still, how did you find it?

  11. Dragon
    Posted May 30, 2018 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Ray Harroun was a relative of my mine, through my grandfather. His Wasp was challenged before the race. Seems he was the only racer with a rear-view mirror rather than an observer. That saved about 150 pounds. The other racers felt he had an unfair advantage. But the organizers checked the rule book and found no rule prohibiting his choice. After the Indianapolis 500, many other drivers began using the rear-view mirror.
    Note: Ray did not invent the rear-view mirror, he just was an early adopter. In those days a car company started up for most race winners, so there was a Harroun car company until 1923. He was one of the very few drivers who actually ran the company and had input into the produced cars. Most drivers only endorsed cars in their name.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted May 30, 2018 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      Very interesting. I did not know they were called observers. Thought they were mechanics who could jump out if a minor breakdown occurred during the race.

      No helmets, no seat belts, none of that sissy safety stuff for those guys.

      • Dragon
        Posted May 30, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

        I think they had multiple roles. One role was to report to the driver what was going on behind. They likely were mechanics too. Ray was versed in mechanics enough to do that himself as well.

        Strangely Ray Harroun using a rear-view mirror reminds me of this Gumball Rally quote:
        “Franco: And now my friend, the first-a rule of Italian driving.

        [Franco rips off his rear-view mirror and throws it out of the car]

        Franco: What’s-a behind me is not important.”

  12. Dominic
    Posted May 30, 2018 at 10:12 am | Permalink


  13. Posted May 30, 2018 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    I have to say I feel for that poor woman who tossed her phone to the gulls, instead of her bagel. Sadly, that’s something I might do.

  14. Posted May 30, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Mmm, roti.

    There’s a Japanese-Caribbean place near Kingston that my sister took me to that carries the “make new stuff out of old” culturally-foodwise thing another step again.

  15. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted May 30, 2018 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Among humanists, Mark Twain lionized Joan of Arc, but George Bernard Shaw was more circumspect calling it a story without villains or heroes in which everyone acted according to their limited understanding of the world. (Twain wrote a pseudonymous biography and Shaw a play about her.)

    She lived when ordinary families were just beginning to experiment with surnames. Her father had toyed with Darc, which the Brits mistakenly believed to to D’Arc, thus dubbing her Joan of Arc, although there is no town in France called Arc. She always referred to herself as Joan the Maiden.

  16. Otternaut
    Posted May 30, 2018 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    Did anyone see “the Savitsky Cats” on America’s Got Talent last night? Google it and watch. It’s freaking amazing! TMWFI

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