Thursday: Hili dialogue

It’s the first Thursday of fall in our hemisphere: September 27, 2018. It’s National Chocolate Milk Day, a drink I haven’t had in years but which was the only incarnation of milk I’d drink as a kid. It’s also World Tourism Day, and I’m contemplating trips to Croatia (soon), France, Belgium, and (in a year) Antarctica. Where are you going?

Duck news: Honey and James were in Botany Pond this morning before sunrise, standing idly on the Duck Bathtub. I took a flash picture with my iPhone, which just shows two pairs of eyes and ducky shapes in the dark. I hope they’re there for breakfast (7:30 a.m.):

Today’s Google Doodle is a video celebrating Google’s 20th birthday, although Wikipedia notes that on September 27, 1998, “The Google internet search engine retroactively claims this date as its birthday.” There’s no indication of anything special happening on that day. You can read a brief history of the Doodles here, including the first one that included a Burning Man logo. And here’s today’s video showing many of the popular searches.

News of the Day: The number of Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers have grown to at least four; Heather Hastie thoroughly documents the allegations in a new post, “Kavanaugh: More women accusers.” It seems likely, to me at least, that given the number of accusations (and I haven’t yet read them in detail; Christine Ford is to testify today), Kavanaugh is pretty much toast. But given Trump’s nature, I suspect he’ll find someone even more right-wing as a replacement candidate. Nobody should think that this is a victory for the Supreme Court, though it may be a victory for women’s freedom from assault and harassment. You can find Ford’s opening statement here.)

Not much happened on this day in history. The biggest event was in 1066: on September 27, William the Conqueror sailed to England from the mouth of the Somme, launching the Norman conquest of England. On this day in 1822, Jean-François Champollion announced that he had deciphered the Rosetta Stone, making hieroglyphics comprehensible for the first time. On this day in 1962, Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring was published, launching the U.S. environmental movement and leading to the establishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection agency. Finally, it was on September 27, 1975, when capital punishment was last used in Spain with the execution of five militants. The death penalty was abolished three years later.

Notables born on this day include Thomas Nast (1840), William Empson (1906), Jayne Meadows (1919), Bud Powell (1924), Meat Loaf (1947), Gwyneth Paltrow (1972), and Avril Lavigne (1984). Those who passed on on this day include Edgar Degas (1917), Engelbert Humperdinck (1921), Julius Wagner-Jauregg (1940, Nobel Laureate who won for a fake discovery: the use of malaria in treating dementia), Babe Didrikson Zaharias (1956), Jimmy Doolittle (1993), William Safire (2009), and Hugh Hefner (last year).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili observes her staff reading detective fiction. Her “experience” seems to be ferreting out mice.

Hili: Has any cat ever written detective novels?
A: I don’t know. Why?
Hili: With my experience I could try.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy jakiś kot pisał kryminały?
Ja: Nie wiem, czemu pytasz?
Hili: Z moim doświadczeniem mogłabym spróbować.

A tweet I found, somewhat accurate when it applies to me:

Some tweets. This one, from reader Nilou, shows two guys pwning a Jesus-monger. But it’s not clear which side is making the cop do a facepalm:

From reader Gethyn (on Theo’s staff): otters FTW!

Tweets from Matthew. We may have had the first one before, but it’s worth seeing again:

Look at these fricking TERMITES! (Turn on video.) They are orderly!

Descartes destroyed:

Some tweets from Grania, the first showing a TRULY ALTRUISTIC CAT:


I feel this way all too often. If only you saw my emails. . . .

It’s Pharyngula!

First-Amendment lawyer Marc Randazza has an issue with some Leftists:




  1. GBJames
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Where am I going? I’m going to Scotland, tomorrow. Two weeks to climb around in castles, visit Orkney, a few of distilleries. I figure I’ll do my share of apologizing for the behavior of our pr*s*d*nt. And maybe someone will explain how they will find themselves out of the insanity of Brexit.

    I’ll visit Highland Park, in Kirkwall. And probably see the new wavy-top distillery of The Macallan. Suggestions for others are welcome. (Sadly, I won’t be getting down to Islay, though.)

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 27, 2018 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      I am sincerely hoping that the British talent for compromise and hypocrisy will permit some sort of Brexit-in-name-only and allow things to continue more or less as they do now.

      Britain has never really been an integral part of Europe, they’re not in the Schengen zone (i.e. they have separate customs and borders), and they still use the Pound not the Euro.
      (They also drive on the left and use miles, but that’s a relatively trivial feature).

      So to be honest I’m not sure how much change Brexit would impose anyway.


      • GBJames
        Posted September 27, 2018 at 7:52 am | Permalink

        The change will be enormous. Immediately they will lose all trade agreements with everyone in the world. Other countries will be required to impose maximum tariffs on British goods. Brits will no longer be able to legally drive in other countries. The border in Ireland… The list of changes is endless.

        For an entertaining discussion of this, and more, check out Three blokes in a pub.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 27, 2018 at 8:13 am | Permalink

          Hmmm, I don’t see why other countries would be *required* to impose maximum tariffs, (they presumably could if they wanted, but that’s different from being forced to); or why Britain couldn’t just seek to continue the current arrangements on an individual basis.

          But it does suggest that rushing Brexit is a stupid thing to do. Well, IMO Brexit is a stupid thing to do anyway. If the Government had any guts or sense they’d re-do the referendum.


          • GBJames
            Posted September 27, 2018 at 8:20 am | Permalink

            It is a matter if international law, apparently. (I’m not a lawyer, and don’t even play one on TV.)

            Britain will need to negotiate 1 to 1 treaties with ever other country or trading block from scratch. Britain can seek anything it wants, but there’s no reason the rest of the world needs to agree to their terms. They will be starting from scratch to replace trading relationships that have taken decades to be established.

            Brexit’s “rush” is a matter of law within the EU. They had two years to work out the process. Extending it is not really an option. The government’s strategy seems to be straight-up make-believe… shutting eyes and hoping for the best.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 27, 2018 at 8:21 am | Permalink

          Oh, and “Brits will no longer be able to legally drive in other countries” – where on earth did that come from? The agreements on ‘foreign’ drivers have nothing to do with EU membership AFAIK. As a New Zealander I can rent a car and drive it in UK, any European country and just about anywhere else in the world, as a visitor, on the strength of my NZ drivers licence.** I’m pretty sure that’s reciprocal and universal.

          (*The AA always advises me to take out an International Driving Permit which is nothing more than a multi-language translation of my drivers licence, which I did a couple of times but I have never, ever, been asked for it anywhere).


          • GBJames
            Posted September 27, 2018 at 8:24 am | Permalink

            The right to drive in other countries is governed by agreements between countries, in this case by the EU. The “new Britain” will not have such an agreement with the EU the day after Brexit.

            New Zealand has an agreement with the EU allowing you to rent a car in the UK. You’ll still be able to rent a car in Paris, of course.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted September 27, 2018 at 8:49 am | Permalink

     says, for ‘Driving in GB on a non-GB licence’, that if you’re visitor you can drive anything if you have a EU licence; or a car or bike on ‘any other country’ licence (but only a bus or lorry if you drove it into Britain yourself). As ‘any other country’ that’s not subject to EU agreement.

              For Brits driving in the EU, unless some agreement is reached, they would have to get an International Driving Permit – as they do now for non-EU countries. (Whether anybody will ever bother to ask to see an IDP is another matter).


              • GBJames
                Posted September 27, 2018 at 9:00 am | Permalink

                Exactly. A Brit will need to get an IDP.

                They do not currently need to do so for non-EU countries if an agreement exists between the EU and the other country. I presume this is the case for the US, for example. A Brit visiting here today doesn’t (unless I’m completely mistaken, not being a lawyer) need to have an IDL.

                The point, of course, is that the relationships that are governed by EU treaties are complex and extensive. There is precious little having anything to do with international trade and movement that is not going to be topsy-turvey the day after Brexit. It will take years to stabilize.

          • GBJames
            Posted September 27, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

            Here’s an article from yesterday about the likely bankruptcies that are likely to occur just from customs delays.

            Brexiteers say “We’ll just negotiate zero tariff treaties with other countries”, having just abandoned their zero-tariff treaty with a quarter of the world’s economy. It is the kind of insanity I expect from Donald Trump and his ilk.

            • Posted October 26, 2018 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

              There are limits to what one is ready to endure for a zero tariff treaty. E.g. some Brits may not want to be bossed around by Germany.

              • GBJames
                Posted October 26, 2018 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

                Some people are idiots. Turns out that fact doesn’t mean stupid decisions are wise policy.

      • Frank Bath
        Posted September 27, 2018 at 8:00 am | Permalink

        I am English and I hope I am not a hypocrite.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 27, 2018 at 8:07 am | Permalink

          I’m English too but I was being snarky, call it ‘diplomacy’ instead. 😉


    • darrelle
      Posted September 27, 2018 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      I am so envious. Will you by chance be traveling the Whiskey Trail or just visiting a few select distilleries?

      • GBJames
        Posted September 27, 2018 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        Just selected distilleries. (My wife is a tad less enthusiastic about this aspect of the trip. One must make compromises in such circumstances.)

        • darrelle
          Posted September 27, 2018 at 11:58 am | Permalink

          Still sounds like a wonderful trip. Hope you have a great time.

          Take some pictures of your scotch tasting adventures and send them to Jerry to post!

        • David Coxill
          Posted September 27, 2018 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

          I was thinking about going to America next August for a month ,start at Boston and then drive down the East coast visiting places that interest me ,stop at Kittyhawk NC and then head back up North .
          But i have bought a second hand motorbike instead ,Honda VFR750RC36 1994 model,with 56000 on the clock .I am scared to death of it ,biggest bike i have had before that was a Kawasaki GT55O ,that was in the early 90s .

          Will do the East coast trip when you know who is out of office .

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted September 27, 2018 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      The pub “Helgi’s” near the ferries, on the well named Harbour Street, in Kirkwell is worth a long visit – an afternoon & evening if you have the drinker’s hollow legs.

      It serves comfort food noon until 9pm ~ not the nouvelle cuisine nonsense infecting UK pubs – or “gastropubs” as they’re termed. Whisky selection includes some seriously vintage bottles, very good beer [won various CAMRA awards] & known for being friendly. Strictly no under 18s even just to eat. Serve booze from 11am to midnight or 1am Thurs to Sat. Music often features.

      Small place so book for food or you’ll be stuck with their snack menu.

      Rather than apologising for the Orange One, I suggest you adopt a Canadian accent. Everyone loves a Canadian. 🙂

      • GBJames
        Posted September 27, 2018 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

        Good advice, both regarding Helgi’s and the old tried-and-true Canadian impersonation gambit!

  2. enl
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Hili and her staff might like to know that, yes, there are mysteries by a cat (though not in the vein of the hard-boiled detective novel): See: Sneaky Pie Brown (staffed by Rita Mae Brown)

    • Malgorzata
      Posted September 27, 2018 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      Thanks! I didn’t know and my staff never informed me. They probably didn’t know either.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted September 27, 2018 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      There’s also the Midnight Louie series by Carole Nelson Douglas, although she doesn’t claim feline co-authorship, as Rita Mae Brown does.

      Ms. Brown wrote a book about writing, titled Starting from Scratch, in which she states that, “…every writer must have a cat. A manuscript that a cat won’t sit on is only fit for the circular file.”

  3. Simon Hayward
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Since you ask, nowhere too exciting for the rest of the year. Atlanta, Nashville, Palm Springs, and two trips to different DC suburbs in December with a three-day gap between, so I have to come back to Chicago in between. Plus somewhere for Thanksgiving if we ever manage to make up our minds where. I suggested New Mexico as, for some reason, it’s one of three states in the lower 48 that I’ve never visited. Awaiting spousal approval, or veto. You generally have more exciting travel plans, one of the advantages of retirement!

    • Posted September 27, 2018 at 7:36 am | Permalink

      New Mexico is AWESOME. I went there not long ago and had an absolutely terrific time. The food is fantastic, too.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Gonna be an interesting day in the senate hearing room today — with the testimony of SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford — for students of American law and government. Wouldn’t miss it myself.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Nineteen twenty-one was the year of our Humperdinck’s birth, I believe.

    • Steven Hill
      Posted September 27, 2018 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

      Engelbert Humperdinck, German composer, born 1st September 1854, died 27th Sepetember 1921. Best known for his opera Hänsel und Gretel (premier Weimar 1983 conducted by Richard Strauss).

      Arnold Dorsey, English pop singer, born 2nd May 1936. Adopted stage name Engelbert Humperdinck in 1965.

  6. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    In defence of Descartes (who lived at about the same time as Galileo), I doubt the instruments existed in his time to measure astronomical positions accurately enough to detect the speed of light. Earth-moon time = 1.3 seconds, I think. Who could tell if the Moon was apparently lagging by 1.3 seconds?

    So light speed was faster than any possible measurement (at the time), so ‘infinite light speed’ was a reasonable assumption.

    (Though I’m not a historian of science, could be wrong).


    • Posted September 27, 2018 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Galileo himself tried to measure it, IIRC and concluded it was faster than he could measure with the tools *he* had.

  7. Michael Fisher
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    The first Tweet in the OP – Paul Bronks, @BoringEnormous has changed his settings to “protected” – only peeps people with Twitter who ‘follow’ him can view now. Pity – his stufz funny.

  8. Posted September 27, 2018 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    If the Rosetta Stone had never been discovered would hieroglyphics still have been deciphered? The Mayan language was deciphered without the equivalent of a Rosetta Stone (I have no idea how), so it seems possible.

    • GBJames
      Posted September 27, 2018 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Deciphering Mayan script was an amazing achievement. It started with simple things, like figuring out numbers and place names. And, of course, it helps that the spoken language is still in use.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted September 27, 2018 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      Try Andrew robinson’s book, Lost languages. He reviews what he calls “Three Great Decipherments”: heiroglyphs, linear B and the Mayan glyphs. He then goes on to present several scripts that are still undeciphered: Meroitic, Etruscan, Linear A, Proto-Elamite, Rongorongo, Zapotec & Isthmian, Indus and the Phaistos Disc. Who knows? Maybe if you take a crack at one of them, you might haave beginners’ luck.

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted September 27, 2018 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

        Sorry – my shift key isn’t working properly.

        • Zetopan
          Posted September 30, 2018 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

          “you might haave beginners’ luck.”

          Your “a” key appears to be working too well.

  9. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Since you asked – did my Big Trip in June-July last year. Flew Auckland to Vladivostok, took the train on the Trans-Siberian to Moscow and then on to Berlin, Paris and Lisbon – and Sintra, which is as far west as the rails go. I thought, having started at the east end of Asia, I’d go as far west as I could. About 9000 miles. All very affordable if you book in advance directly with the railways themselves – the Internet is a marvellous innovation for that.

    Then drove around the Alps in a rental Jeep Renegade (not my choice, there was a cock-up) which I promptly named Hannibal because, for its size, a more clumsy, unwieldy, elephantine, unsuitable conveyance for negotiating narrow mountain passes (and even narrower village streets) I could not imagine.

    Then across the channel on Eurostar and spent a couple of weeks driving around southern England and as far as North Wales chasing steam trains.
    Back to Paris and flew home via Dubai.

    This year – nothing much planned. Visit the family over Christmas in Christchurch, South Island. The Picton-Christchurch railway line has been reopened after the Kaikoura earthquake and the Coastal Pacific is running again, yay!


  10. Debbie Coplan
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    I am very excited to be going to CERN in mid-October.
    I am over the moon with excitement. It will be with a small tour.

  11. busterggi
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    You don’t fool me, that first blurry photo shows a pair os sasquacks.

  12. eric
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Sadly nowhere in the next few months. I’m hoping to do some sort of big trip with my kid next summer though!

    It seems likely, to me at least, that given the number of accusations (and I haven’t yet read them in detail; Christine Ford is to testify today), Kavanaugh is pretty much toast.

    I’m far more pessimistic. I see a confirmation 51-49 before the end of October. Right now I don’t think any of these accusations change the votes of GOP senators, who are the only ones who really matter to the confirmation process, and many of them want to get on the campaign trail ASAP, so they’ll want to finish this off in the next few weeks.

    Still, there’s four who might flip, so there’s hope you’re right.

  13. Grania Spingies
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Possibly the best thing you’ll hear all day.

  14. rickflick
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 10:16 am | Permalink


  15. rickflick
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    That was supposed to be a link to Yellowstone:

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted September 27, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Let’s see if this works betterer:

      • rickflick
        Posted September 27, 2018 at 11:16 am | Permalink

        Ah, yes. Isn’t it spectacular?

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted September 27, 2018 at 11:29 am | Permalink

          Yes. It’s the DBs I hear.

          • rickflick
            Posted September 27, 2018 at 1:40 pm | Permalink


            • Michael Fisher
              Posted September 27, 2018 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

              The Dog’s Bollocks = the mutt’s nuts = the puppies privates = the badger’s nadgers = stands out as being the best. full etymollycodgicals ‘ere

              • rickflick
                Posted September 27, 2018 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

                I’d never heard of those synonyms. I’m sure you’ve heard of bee’s knees.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted September 27, 2018 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

                The cat’s meow, the cat’s whiskers, the cat’s pajamas, the monkey’s eyebrows, the sardine’s whiskers, the clam’s garter, the duck’s quack, the elephant’s wrist, the eel’s ankle, the gnat’s elbow, the elephant’s arches, the elephant’s instep, the bullfrog’s beard, the cuckoo’s chin, the leopard’s stripes, the pig’s wings, the snake’s hips & the tiger’s spots.

                All jazz age ‘hep’ terms of approval – Bertie Wooster & Co – what a time that was, flappers & all.

              • rickflick
                Posted September 27, 2018 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

                Thanks for the link to The Phrase Finder.

              • rickflick
                Posted September 27, 2018 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

                The “approval” seems to stem from the idea of something improbable or unusual to the point of amusement. Something to make you smile.

        • harrync
          Posted September 27, 2018 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

          Many years ago [1969?] I beheld the same view of the falls. And I also remember this sign: “Stay on trail, help prevent erosion.” My thought at the time: “Yes, I can see the horrible erosion that has already occurred.”

  16. Posted September 27, 2018 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    A cat detective: Midnight Louie
    Novels by Carole Nelson Douglas

    Midnight Louie is a cat who solves crimes for his owner! Many of them!

  17. Dale Franzwa
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    I have chocolate milk on my cereal (granola) every day. (If you’re gonna throw up please get away from your computer.) I blame it all on my genes.

    My little brother, on the other hand, would guzzle a whole carton of white milk (behind mom’s back).

  18. Bob
    Posted September 28, 2018 at 3:07 am | Permalink

    Where am I going? I am in Bad Mergentheim, Germany at the moment and am off to Italy next week for a week. After another week in Germany home to Alabama.

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