Monday: Hili dialogue

As Thomas Wolfe said, “October has come again, has come again. . . “. Yes, it’s Monday, October 1, and, as usual, I’ll post Thomas Wolfe’s paean to the month from Chapter 39 of Of Time and the River. Wolfe was an uneven novelist, but often a great writer, and this is great prose:

It’s also National Pumpkin Spice Day, and I suppose those dreadful Starbucks concoctions, the Pumpkin Spice Lattes, will soon be appearing.  It’s also International Day of Older Persons, but they don’t define what “older” means. Older than what?

This week we’ll feature the Cheezburger site’s “Typical week through the eyes of a cat”, which happens to be my favorite wild felid, Pallas’s cat. Here’s the Monday entry (h/t Su):

I’m saddened to report that the rose-breasted grosbeak female that I “rescued” and handed over to the wildlife rehabbers died only an hour after it was picked up. It apparently had internal injuries and was bleeding a bit from the beak. It probably flew into a window. These things hit me hard. Although one person told me, “Thousands of birds die in collisions every year,” that lovely bird’s life was all that it had. A big thank you to the volunteers at the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors and to the people at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center.

On this day in 1861, Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management was published. It sold 60,000 copies in its first year and remains in print today. Exactly 30 years later, Stanford University opened for business. On October 1, 1908, Ford Model Ts went on sale for $825. For 1913 dollars (the earliest I could get data on), that’s the equivalent of $21,000.   On this day in 1918, Arab forces led by T. E. Lawrence captured Damascus.  After the takeover, the Arab tribes fought for control of the city. Here’s a clip from “Lawrence of Arabia” showing the dissension.

On this day in 1946, Nazi war criminals were sentenced at the Nuremberg trials.  Twelve were sentenced to death and hanged on October 16. Two sentenced to death escaped the noose, but only because they were already dead (Martin Bormann died while escaping from Berlin, and Hermann Göring committed suicide).  On this day in 1964, the Free Speech Movement was launched at the University of California at Berkeley. Five years later, the Corcorde broke the sound barrier for the first time. On this day in 1975, Muhammad Ali defeated Joe Frazier in the boxing match called “The Thriller in Manila.” Finally, on October 1, 1989, Denmark became the first country to introduce legal same-sex partnerships.

Notables born on October 1 include Annie Besant (1847), Vladimir Horowitz (1903), Bonnie Parker (1910, died 1934), Walter Matthau (1920), William Rehnquist (1924), Julie Andrews (1935), Theresa May (1956), and Mark McGwire (1963). Here are Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in 1933, a year before they were gunned down:

Only a few notables died on October 1; these include E. B. White (1985) and Tom Clancy (2013).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej tries and fails to remind Hili how good she has it:

A: You are living in a land of milk and honey.
Hili: Honey is totally redundant.
In Polish:
Ja: Żyjesz w krainie mlekiem i miodem płynącej.
Hili: Ten miód jest zupelnie niepotrzebny.

Also from the Cheezburger site, we learn how geese are made:

Some tweets from Matthew Cobb. First is a binturong or “bear cat” (Arctictis binturong). It’s a viverrid from Southeast Asia. The first time I saw one of these things in the zoo, I thought, “What the hell is that?”

This will cheer up even the grumpiest Monday hater:

WHAT? Only six bottles of Bordeaux??? That shows that it wasn’t a French expedition.

Orcas porpoising. Man, can those things swim!

I believe many of these are examples of convergent evolution, with the egg-eating habit evolving independently. Be sure to watch the video:

A bad science pun:

I’m not sure whether these are tuna, but when you see such a scrabble, you know that a hungry whale is about to surface: 

A hungry tuna drives a pack of prey out of the water:

Another “baitball”, this time for a fish predator:

Matthew loves these illusions. And Stewart-Williams has a new science book out.

And some lovely ceramic cats. You can buy these brooches and other of Damave’s ceramics at Etsy:



  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 1, 2018 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Good thing about that price on the Model T, it was reduced many times, down to $260 by 1925.

    The Bear Cat is the Mascot at Northwest Missouri State in Maryville, Mo.

  2. Posted October 1, 2018 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    “I’m not sure whether these are tuna, but when you see such a scrabble, you know that a hungry whale is about to surface”

    Surely the tuna is the large fish that breaches after the initial scrabble of smaller fish! It definitely isn’t a whale.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted October 1, 2018 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      Yep, my thought too. TWO dorsal fins, and a decidedly crescentic shape to second dorsal and at least one pectoral fin. No whale I know, and much more fish like.

    • Posted October 1, 2018 at 7:53 am | Permalink

      Yes, it’s a predatory tuna. My mistake, and I’ve corrected it in the post, thanks.

  3. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted October 1, 2018 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    That illusion is mind-boggling.

    Careful inspection reveals both ‘wheels’ (circles of dots) are rotating anti-clockwise.

    I can only assume that – with direct vision (i.e. looking straight at it) the actual movement of the dots predominates, while with peripheral vision the location of the dots is less defined and the movement of the stripes overrules to give the impression of clockwise movement.

    But it’s totally counter-intuitive. The most baffling illusion I’ve seen.


    • rickflick
      Posted October 1, 2018 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      It is a spectacular example. I’d have to guess that it stems from the fact that the eye is evolved with multiple sub routines responsible for detecting different aspects of a scene. Large vs small movement, contrast, edges, etc. Under normal circumstances these work well together to give us a decent view of reality in “normal use”. It’s when these separate functions are pushed to operate independently or in odd circumstances that we enter the Twilight Zone.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 2, 2018 at 2:26 am | Permalink

        Agreed. There are obviously two separate conflicting mechanisms at work. What is remarkable is how strongly and clearly one or the other dominates and how sharp the distinction is.


  4. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted October 1, 2018 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    ‘International Day of Older Persons’. PCC quite correctly asks, “Older than what?” (Beat me to it).

    That’s just a politically correct euphemism for “old”. I’m older – than I was yesterday.

    Road signs have changed over the years. It used to be “Old people.” Then it became “Senior citizens.” Then, when that euphemism became common enough to lose its euphemistic-ness, it became “Aged persons.” Holy cow, you know you’re really past it and CTD when you’re “Aged”!

    … ancient old fogey

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted October 1, 2018 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      Like the obvious, You’ll never be younger than you are today. Or the car salesman telling you, your car will never be worth more than it is today.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 2, 2018 at 2:35 am | Permalink

        Ah, but I was so much older then
        I’m younger than that now.


    • Posted October 1, 2018 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      To make a Platonic joke:

      Except for a brief time between births, everyone is older. 🙂

    • Posted October 1, 2018 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

      Aged like a fine wine?


  5. John S
    Posted October 1, 2018 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Wolfe on October: Much tl;dr

    Far better is Keats “To Autumn” fewer words, more effect. “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness…”

  6. darrelle
    Posted October 1, 2018 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Orcas porpoising! Orcas seem to me to defy the laws of physics. I can’t think of another animal of their size that is so dynamic, so fast. They are the size of elephants.

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 1, 2018 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    .On this day in 1975, Muhammad Ali defeated Joe Frazier in the boxing match called “The Thriller in Manila.”

    The Thrilla in Manila is justly regarded as among the great prizefights in history. Ali and Frazier fought in an airless stadium with an aluminium roof at 10 a.m. Manila time, so that the bout could be broadcast on closed circuit at night in the US. The temperature in the ring during the fight may have gotten as high as 120° F (49°C).

    The fight went for 14 of the scheduled 15 rounds and had several distinct shifts in momentum. Ali told his trainer, Angelo Dundee, in the ninth round that this was a close to dying as he had ever come. In the dramatic closing rounds, Frazier’s left eye was completely closed, so that he could no longer see the relentless right-hand punches Ali was throwing — but ol’ Smokin’ Joe kept a-comin’. The fight ended when Frazier’s corner man, Eddie Futch, wouldn’t let his fighter answer the bell for the final round, for fear that Frazier really would die.

    You can watch the closing rounds, as called by Howard Cosell, here. I have a theory (which is my own) that neither fighter — neither man — ever fully recovered from the trauma of that bout.

  8. Graham Martin-Royle
    Posted October 1, 2018 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Pumpkin spice. Was she the 6th spice girl?

  9. Posted October 1, 2018 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Although the ceramic cats are very beautiful, they remind me of our cat butts fridge magnets.

  10. John Conoboy
    Posted October 1, 2018 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    The most recent Audubon magazine has an article about birds and buildings. It says that one billion birds are killed annually in North America in collisions with buildings.

    • John S
      Posted October 1, 2018 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      A heartless question, perhaps, but…

      Is there any evidence for the evolution of “building-smart” birds?

      • Posted October 27, 2018 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

        Even if there is yet none, I suppose there will be. Same with wind turbines.

  11. rickflick
    Posted October 1, 2018 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    When you read “The Thriller in Manila.” It doesn’t sound right to my ears – raised in the northern Midwest. It takes something like a Kentucky drawl(Muhammad Ali) to bend the “er” from thriller to rhyme with the “a” in Manila. It now occurs to me it could also rhyme for a Brahman from Boston(JFK) but in the opposite way.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 1, 2018 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

      Not sure I’d classify JFK as a “Brahman [sic].” After being educated at Choate and Harvard, JFK certainly didn’t speak “mick” (as the Kennedys used to say about their lower-class co-ethnics). Still, he was just two generations removed from the Kennedy’s shanty Irish ancestry. The Brahmins were Boston’s old-line WASP aristocracy — the Lowells and the Cabots and the Lodges (and the Cabot-Lodges) — the ones who used to proclaim “no Irish need apply.”

      • rickflick
        Posted October 1, 2018 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

        Ah. I didn’t know the history well enough to see the difference. When we lived in the area long ago we took our daughter to interview for a place in a reputable preschool. They asked us who our parents and grandparents were. We knew we were in the wrong place. They didn’t call us back, but we wouldn’t have gone. I didn’t realize the upper class Irish were excluded too. So Kennedy’s kids could not have attended that snobbish school either. Well, now the Kennedys and I have something in common.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 2, 2018 at 9:25 am | Permalink

          There was a nice breakdown of the distinctions between the Boston shanty Irish and lace-curtain Irish (like the Kennedys) in Scorsese’s The Departed in this exchange between Mark Wahlberg and Leonardo DeCaprio.

          • rickflick
            Posted October 2, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

            Good acting.

  12. Posted October 1, 2018 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Mmm, tuna. Shame about that though.

  13. Achrachno
    Posted October 1, 2018 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    If they ONLY eat eggs, do egg eating snakes only live in places where birds lay all year, or do they go hungry outside of the nesting season? Some places (e.g., arid Australia) birds nest whenever it rains, but how widespread is that? And that still suggests widely spaced meals.

  14. Dave
    Posted October 1, 2018 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Actually, Damascus surrendered to the Australian Lt.-Col. Olden of 10th Light Horse. Lawrence, with Arab leaders, entered the next day.

    • Posted October 1, 2018 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      It’s actually a much debated question as to which Allied unit entered Damascus first, and thus can take credit for the “capture” of Damascus. Allenby’s mostly British Empire army (including the Australians) was advancing from the southeastwest out of Palestine, while the Arab army, under Faisal and Lawrence, approached more from the desert side. It’s probably fair to say they arrived almost simultaneously, and that each got to parts of the city before the other. Both also had political motivations for stressing the primacy of their entry, which is reflected in their respective accounts.

      The scene in the movie Lawrence of Arabia of bickering among the various Arab components after the entry to Damascus is a bit unfair. A more or less successful Arab administration was set up under Faisal, but this Arab government of Syria was driven out by the French in 1920.

  15. Posted October 1, 2018 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    The world’s expert on egg-eating snakes was my late colleague Carl Gans, whom we’ve had occasion to mention here at WEIT before. Most of his observations and analyses are in technical papers, but there is a very readable summary of his work in chapter 2 of his book Biomechanics: An Approach to Vertebrate Biology. The book is also still in print at the University of Michigan Press.

  16. Posted October 1, 2018 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    The first time I saw a binturong it was in a Cambodian zoo. I had never seen anything like it. It was just lying there though, so I’m glad to finally see one in action.

    And the illusion seems defective to me. Sometimes only one changes direction. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?


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