Friday: Hili dialogue

It’s Friday already: one week before I go to Paris. It’s October 26, 2018, and I hope my ducks are on their way to Louisiana.  It’s a double food holiday: National Pumpkin Day and National Mincemeat Pie Day. It’s also Intersex Awareness Day.

On this day in 1774, the first Continental Congress of the American “rebels” met in Philadelphia. Exactly one year later, George III of Great Britain declared before Parliament that the American colonies were in rebellion and authorized a military response. So began the Revolutionary War.  On October 26, 1863, the Football Association was founded at the Freemason’s Tavern in London. And on this day in 1881, the famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral occurred in Tombstone, Arizona. Three people were killed in the thirty-second fusillade, but there were two deaths thereafter related to it.  The participants were VirgilMorgan, and Wyatt Earp, and Doc Holliday on one side versus Tom and Frank McLauryBilly and Ike Clanton, and Billy Claiborne on the other.

On October 26, 1905, Sweden accepted the independence of Norway. In 1944, the largest naval skirmish in history, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, ended with a decisive victory of the U.S. over Japan, with a loss of 6 versus 26 warships, respectively. Exactly three years later, the Maharaja of Kashmir and Jammu, during Partition, allowed his kingdom to join India rather than Pakistan. There’s been trouble ever since.  And on October 26, 1977, says Wikipedia, “Ali Maow Maalin, the last natural case of smallpox, develop[ed]a rash in Merca district, Somalia. The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider this date the anniversary of the eradication of smallpox, the most spectacular success of vaccination.” And indeed it is. Maalin survived and became a vaccination activist, but died of malaria in 2013.

On this day in 1999, Britain’s House of Lords voted to end the right of hereditary peers to vote in that chamber, and it sure took long enough! Finally, exactly one year ago today, Jacinda Arden, only 37 years old, was sworn in as Prime Minister of New Zealand. She’s the youngest prime minister in that country’s history. So far reviews of her performance are positive but mixed. Sadly, her “First Cat”, Paddles, was killed by a car shortly after she took office. It was ineffably heartbreaking as Paddles, a polydactylous atheist cat, had a hilarious Twitter feed.

Notables born on this day include Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (1874), Beryl Markham (1902), Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (1919), biologist Robert Hinde (1923; among other things, Hinde described blue tits in Britain learning to pry the caps off milk bottles and drinking the cream on top, one of the earliest examples of cultural evolution in animals, since the behavior spread rapidly. Sadly, there are few videos on the Internet showing this cool behavior, but you can see one on the BBC Archives page here).  Others born on this day are Pat Conroy (1945), Jaclyn Smith (1945), Hillary Clinton (1947) and Julian Schnabel (1951).

Those who expired on October 26 include Hattie McDaniel (1952), Igor Sikorsky (1972), and Park Chung-hee (1979).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is off hunting again:

A: Where are you going?
Hili: To a place I will be returning from.
In Polish:
Ja: Dokąd idziesz?
Hili: Do miejsca, z którego będę wracać.
Reader Al Lee sent this illusion, which is explained here. There are TWELVE black dots in this figure. Can you see them all at once? If not, why not?

A “meme” via reader Su:

A tweet sent by reader Dom. Be sure to watch till the end:

From reader Nilou; I wonder if these pictures are real. I suspect they are, but jebus, the hair!

Tweets from Matthew. The first shows is stunning: a huge aggregation of female octopuses brooding eggs near “fluid seeps” in the deep sea. Why are they doing this?

Click on the link to go to the word list:

I had to get a screenshot of this one; I guess the dude has blocked me:

A puzzled inquiry about Christianity:

What an ignominious interment!

Tweets from Grania:

A  3.5-minute spontaneous video from Jonathan Pie:

Finally, from one of Grania’s favorite sites, the fake “DPRK News Service”, which is hilarious and worth following—if you follow people on Twitter:



  1. Sastra
    Posted October 26, 2018 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    I wasn’t particularly enamored with Pie’s piece on “mansplaining” because he didn’t explain it very well. It’s not about “being rude” and “being offended” and in need of gentle treatment.

    The term was invented by a woman who went with a female friend to a party. A man asked her friend what she did and she told him she was a linguist. The male guest immediately began to tell her about an exciting new book on linguistics he’d heard about on a radio show and she said “I know — I wrote that book.” But instead of switching gears and asking the expert about her theory, he proceeded to continue to explain the book to its author. Later, both women thought about how familiar that seemed to them — and suspected that it probably wouldn’t have happened had the man been speaking to a man.

    “Mansplaining” then refers to a proposed phenomenon in which men tend to explain things to women which they already know — or know better — than the man, because they’re a woman. It’s no good pointing out that it also happens to men unless it happens just as often. The argument is that it doesn’t.

    And the problem isn’t that it’s “hurtful” to delicate female flowers, but that it presumably reflects a general tendency to place women into a subservient role without intending to. Tone needn’t come into it. It could be perfectly respectful and yet still inappropriate.

    Seems to me it’s a testable claim. Don’t know if there have been been any specific studies. But Jonathan Pie’s routine reminded me of Christians who complain about atheists being “offended” by religious monuments on government property as if they were objecting to the images themselves. If you don’t get the issue right, making fun of those who are “overreacting” falls flat.

    • Mark Jones
      Posted October 26, 2018 at 7:56 am | Permalink

      Thanks, I wasn’t sure that Pie was explaining (!) mansplaining correctly. Ideally those women who coined the term were in the audience, looked at each other and raised their eyebrows.

      Their original anecdote sounds a bit like the ‘woman who men can’t hear’ sketches from The Fast Show, which always made me chuckle:

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 26, 2018 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      That’s a bit different from the meaning that I had gathered for ‘mansplaining’ (NOTE I wouldn’t claim to be authoritative on the subject).

      I thought it was more like an implication that anything a man said on certain charged topics was attempting to whitewash the indefensible. i.e. ‘explaining away’ something (like explanations of why ‘men earn more than women’), with the implication that the explanation must be false.

      So I think I disagree with both your definition and Jonathan Pie’s definition. My definition is more prejudicial, as it happens. I do agree that Jonathan Pie went off at a tangent rather early.


      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 26, 2018 at 8:22 am | Permalink

        I should also add that the term pisses me off as it can be used to dismiss out of hand any argument made by a male – same result that J Pie noted.

        (But then most current ‘woke’ jargon pisses me off, including ‘woke’ 😉


      • Sastra
        Posted October 26, 2018 at 9:57 am | Permalink

        There seem to be a lot of definitions and, as always, the definition sometimes steers the reaction (“New Atheism,” “faith.”)

        I’ve also heard the term used to describe men explaining to women what it’s like to be a woman ( and contradicting all corrections) — which can be problematic for any X telling Y the same thing, regardless of who’s got X and Y.

    • phil brown
      Posted October 26, 2018 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      I think the concept is traced back to the essay “Men Explain Things to Me” by Rebecca Solnit, but she didn’t invent the term.

      • Sastra
        Posted October 26, 2018 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        Heh, I think that was the origin story I told above — but I got a lot of details wrong. The foibles of memory.

    • darrelle
      Posted October 26, 2018 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      I wasn’t aware of the origins of the term but I agree with your explanation of the meaning of the term and that Jonathan Pie missed the target.

    • Vaal
      Posted October 26, 2018 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      I remember the description of that incident out of which the “mansplaining” concept apparently arose.

      My reaction is the same this time: It sounds like something I (a man) have experienced many times before, from other men. And from some women. In fact it wasn’t long ago I was in a high end audio store and the proprietor started to teat me as if I knew nothing about the hobby, or about how sound technology works. I explained that I’d been in the hobby for most of my life, once wrote audio reviewers for a high-end magazine, have many friends in the industry, that I work in sound professionally, and I described the gear I owned that would tell anyone I knew what I was doing.

      Despite all this, he continued to treat me as if I were a “newbie”…apparently absorbing nothing of what I’d said.

      If I were a woman in this “mansplaining” era is there any doubt I would have notched that up as more evidence “he mansplained to me because I am a woman?” I’ve encountered plenty of people who have been made aware that I know something of the subject, but who talked as if I did not (one of my wife’s female friends comes to mind who always does this).

      I raise these examples to make the point: I don’t know if “mansplaining” is an actual “thing.” I’m not saying it isn’t; I don’t have the experience of being a woman. But given my experience of encountering as a matter of course plenty of similar experiences as a man, that’s one thing that makes me cautious that there might be some bias going on in interpreting experience.

      I want very much to just be able to accept the reports of anyone’s experience, certainly I want women to tell me their experience, especially if it can help fix issues between men and women. But we also live in a frustrating time of “offence culture” and catastrophizing experiences…and “if I felt it was true then it was true and who are you to tell me otherwise?” type reasoning.

      So now I think many of us quite rightly have our skeptical guard up when some newly minted offense becomes a meme. Which is to me a real shame as it dilutes the strength of our being able to report to one another our experiences as evidence of a wrong.

      • Sastra
        Posted October 26, 2018 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        Yes, that’s why I suggested that the hypothesis be tested. They’ve done plenty of studies which looked for unconscious bias on sex and race for such things as evaluating resumes or customer service — with positive results. Men get turned down for jobs, too, but when the same resume is statistically more likely to be accepted when the photo of “Pat” is a man rather than a woman, that’s information.

        I don’t know how they’d set up a blinded (doubleblinded?) test for mansplaining, but it ought to be doable. Though first they’d have to choose among all the definitions floating around — and that might be hard.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 26, 2018 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

        In other words, unnecessary explaining (regardless of gender).** Except that when a man does it to a woman it’s siezed on as ‘mansplaining’, right?

        That may be the case. It *could* be a fiction based on selective reporting, or it *could* be overwhelmingly prevalent, or anywhere in between.

        Quite often, as the explainer, it’s difficult to know just how much the explainee knows about a topic. I suspect a considerable amount of over-explaining arises from this fact. And of course (Dunning-Kruger) many explainees may think they know more than they really do. So as the explainer it’s probably safer to explain a bit more than necessary, than to cut it short and leave the explainee uncertain (and the explainee may be reluctant to admit they couldn’t follow part of the explanation. Not all of us are very good explainers, either.

        (I’m not excusing the audio-store proprietor mentioned by Vaal).

        **I’m going with Vaal’s definition here, which is different from mine.

  2. rickflick
    Posted October 26, 2018 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    The family who couldn’t do hair. Wikipedia, of DT’s mother:

    In appearance she was slight of build but was noted for an elaborate hairstyle, labeled in one account a “dynamic orange swirl”. This bore a commonality with her son Donald, who once wrote, “Looking back, I realize now that I got some of my sense of showmanship from my mother.”

  3. DrBrydon
    Posted October 26, 2018 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Got to watch those urban predators.

  4. Richard Bond
    Posted October 26, 2018 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Two points re tits drinking milk:

    Difficult to be completely certain without colour, but I am pretty sure that the birds in the BBC film are coal tits (Periparus ater), not blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus). That said, my memories are of blue tits doing this.

    They did not pry off the bottle tops. The original tops were of waxed cardboard force-fitted into the neck of the bottles. The milk raiders took their opportunity when tops of aluminium foil replaced cardboard, and the tits learnt to peck though these.

    Nevertheless, pretty smart behaviour.

  5. Giancarlo
    Posted October 26, 2018 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    “Me” think that the compiler of the 100 best English words should pay less attention to vocabulary and more to grammar.

  6. Posted October 26, 2018 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    A link to a Gary Numan song seems appropriate here:

  7. Posted October 26, 2018 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I *can* see all the dots.

    Raven used to say I have “hunter’s eyes”, which has something to do with oddities in my peripheral vision.

    (For example, I don’t like pedestrian overpasses not because they are high, but because part of my brain keeps saying: “traffic coming in!!”)

  8. Diane G
    Posted October 26, 2018 at 11:21 pm | Permalink


  9. Posted October 29, 2018 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Unleavened bread!

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