Sunday: Hili dialogue

It’s Sunday, November 25, 2018, and National Parfait Day. So it goes. In New York it’s Evacuation Day, marking the day in 1783 when British troops left New York, firing what was the last shot of the Revolutionary War.

Here’s the Tweet of the Week uncovered by Matthew Cobb. It shows the world’s first cat emoji—from the 14th century!

On this day in 1491, the siege of Granada ended, with Ferdinand and Isabella’s troops defeating the Moors. This was the end of Muslim rule on the Iberian Peninsula. On November 25, 1915, according to Wikipedia, “Albert Einstein present[ed] the field equations of general relativity to the Prussian Academy of Sciences. In 1947, two things occurred on November 25. First, the “Hollywood Ten” were blacklisted by movie studios because they refused to answer questions about their affiliation with the Communist Party. Here are the ten, most of whom were members of the Party, but it wasn’t illegal:

Second, on November 25, 1947, New Zealand ratified the Statute of Wesminster, becoming independent of legislative control by the UK. However, the UK still has a hand in New Zealand’s government, something that I argue endlessly about with Heather Hastie (she thinks it’s a good thing, I think it’s demeaning).

On this day in 1952, Agatha Christie’s play The Mousetrap opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in London. It’s still being staged in London—it had its 25,000th performance in 2012—making it the longest continuously running play in history. On this day in 1963, both John F. Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald (JFK’s assassin) were buried: the former in Arlington National Cemetery, the latter in Shannon Rose Hill Memorial Burial Park in Forth Worth, Texas.  On this day in 1970, author Yukio Mishima committed ritualistic seppukuafter unsuccessfully mounting a coup to restore the Emperor.  Finally—and many of you will remember this—it was on November 25, 1999, that 5-year-old Cuban lad Elian Gonzalez was rescued by fishermen from an inner tube floating off the Florida coast.  He was returned to Cuba after a custody battle, and now the 24-year-old Gonzalez works as a technology specialist for a Cuban company making large plastic water tanks.

Notables born on this day include Lope de Vega (1562), Andrew Carnegie (1835), Nikolai Vavilov (1887), Lewis Thomas (1913), Joe DiMaggio (1914), Percy Sledge (1940), Amy Grant and John F. Kennedy, Jr. (both 1960), and Jaqueline and Jill Hennessy (twins, born 1968).

Those who joined the Choir Invisible on this day include Kenesaw Mountain Landis (1944), Upton Sinclair (1968), U Thant (1974), Harold Washington (1987; a great Chicago mayor who loved the feral monk parrots of our town), Flip Wilson (1998), and Fidel Castro (two years ago).

Those who died on November 25 include:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Andrzej have a strange interaction. Malgorzata explains:

Hili just doesn’t support the idea that the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about anything is conducive to peace and quiet. She didn’t get this strange idea from us; I don’t know why such was her conclusion.

The exchange:

A: Let’s tell the whole truth.
Hili: I would rather go for moderation.
In Polish:
Ja: Powiedzmy sobie całą prawdę.
Hili: Wzywałabym raczej do umiarkowania.

Steve Stewart-Williams tweeted a figure from a paper showing how our musical tastes change with age:

Two tweets sent by reader Nilou. The first is a lovely leopard drawing:

An adorable but sneaky raven at the Tower of London. Did you know that a group of ravens is called an “unkindness of ravens”? That shows you the demeanor of these nasty birds. . .

Tweets from Matthew: A lovely bird, but I’m surprised someone hasn’t named it the Jesus Bird:

Mallard head! It looks like James Pond. . . . I miss that gentle and faithful drake.

I had no idea that Watson and Holmes used psychedelic drugs:

Here’s a short video describing new work on a “skull collecting ant”, but I still don’t understand why it accumulates the heads of trap-jaw ants:

Tweets from Grania. In the first, Tom Nichols goes after Dinesh D’Souza:

Try this one on your friends. . .

I’m not sure if this represents gay guys or not, but whatever it represents it’s not appropriate for the book!

Watch the U.S. population getting older in this animated Tweet:

Finally, a superb kitten video:



  1. Michael Fisher
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    f archboldi: I’ve just read up on these beasts & it seems they specialise in one prey species, the trap-jaw ant. I assume ‘skull collecting’ isn’t happening – it’s what’s left when they’ve dismembered the prey & consumed the other parts. The question to ask might be why they don’t clean out their nests? Do ants eat prey exoskeleton, but not the head exoskeleton? Just guessing…

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    I suggest “reincarnated” as one of the euphemisms for “cross the rainbow bridge” of it hasn’t yet…

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    The British departed in 1783 but made a return visit in 1814 – Burn the place down.

  4. Barry Lyons
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” was not a successful series (it lasted only one season), but I loved the show, and I particular liked the episode called “The Wrap Party” that featured Eli Wallach, who… Well, I won’t say for those who haven’t seen it. But the episode has a nice exploration of something Jerry has referenced here.

  5. phil brown
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    The problem with the Karamazov cover is, of course, that there are actually three brothers in the novel.

    • Kiwi Dave
      Posted November 25, 2018 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      The Karamazov cover is a scream, promising the reader a light-hearted coming of age teen romance, or something similar. I immediately imagined A Farewell to Arms illustrated by a limbless Greek statue.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 25, 2018 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

      I have many, many paperbacks whose covers were manifestly designed by some artist who had only ever read the blurb (and grievously misinterpeted that, too)


  6. rickflick
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    I’m in the leading edge of that bulging midriff of baby-boomers. It looks like when I reach my last, there will be a lot more folks living past a hundred. 😎

  7. Posted November 25, 2018 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    on the calendar commemorations, I much prefer the style (ala Grania) where you attach some identity description to the notables name’ I don’t often recognize their place or reason in importance.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 25, 2018 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

      So far as deaths go, we seem to have been given both options in this post 😉


  8. David Evans
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Holmes and Watson weren’t experimenting with drugs in the modern sense of seeking new experiences. They were trying to reproduce the circumstances of a murder (in The Devil’s Foot Root).

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted November 25, 2018 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      However, Mr Holmes had a cocaine addiction.

    • Posted November 25, 2018 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Holmes, however, also used cocaine out of mere boredom, when nobody had brought a nice murder to him.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 25, 2018 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

      Looks like they got a bad batch…


    • revelator60
      Posted November 26, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Correct. The TV adaptation of The Devil’s Foot (starring the late, great Jeremy Brett) adds a bit more psychedelic imagery to the hallucinations:

      Also, Holmes’s cocaine use tends to be overplayed in the public’s mind. In reality, Holmes used it in only three or four out of 56 stories and eventually gave up the habit.

  9. Posted November 25, 2018 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Conveniently, National Laxative Day immediately precedes Evacuation Day. 😉

    • rickflick
      Posted November 25, 2018 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      It’s one of those small aspects of life that totally makes sense. I feel better already.

  10. Mark R.
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    When it comes to the music chart, I understand “contemporary” music, but I have no idea what “mellow, intense, unpretentious or sophisticated” music is. Examples please.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted November 25, 2018 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      mellow, intense, unpretentious or sophisticated

      Chas & Dave
      Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 25, 2018 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      Those terms strike me as extremely subjective.

      For example, the measure ‘contemporary’ – is 60’s pop more ‘contemporary’ now than jazz or less?

      Or is it that ‘contemporary’ currently means ‘rap’ or ‘hip hop’ and nothing else? (In which case my trend line hit zero some time back).

      Maybe I’m misreading something and those things aren’t *categories* of music, (i.e. there is no “mellow” as such) so much as variable attributes of particular types of music (so e.g. the Beatles’ Strawberry Fields might be 50% mellow, 60% intense, 20% unpretentious and 70% sophisticated).

      Still strikes me as highly subjective though.


      • Michael Fisher
        Posted November 25, 2018 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

        Those terms are subjective & determined by respondents. The survey is 2009 & this is how it breaks down eg most respondents consider the genre “pop” to fit mostly into the “unpretentious” category

        Mellow: Electronic/dance, World/International, New age,

        Unpretentious: Pop, country, religious

        Sophisticated: Blues, jazz, bluegrass, folk, classical, Gospel, opera

        Intense: Rock, punk, alternative, heavy metal
        Contemporary: Rapp, soul/R&B, Funk, Reggae

        It’s all in the pdf linked in the tweet

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted November 26, 2018 at 12:18 am | Permalink

          Shoulda looked at the pdf, shouldn’t I?

          The genres are rated by their attributes, there’s a table:

          Needless to say, the first thing that occurs to me are exceptions that don’t conform to that table. But I’m just perverse that way 🙂

          Aside from that, I’m not sure that the description “how our musical tastes change with age” or the tweet “the music we listen to at different times of life” is necessarily correct. I don’t think mine have changed much since I was 30. Would it be equally accurate to equate the curves to how musical tastes have changed over generations?

          OK, having read the abstract of the pdf

          there is only one conclusion I agree with:
          (c) age trends in musical preferences are closely associated with personality.
          Obviously my personality is atypical 😉


          • Michael Fisher
            Posted November 26, 2018 at 1:10 am | Permalink

            It slices through the population of respondents in the year 2009 & only 2009 – it’s a snapshot in time.
            It divides the population into cohorts based on year of birth & thus it should not be used to reflect changes in taste or habits as individuals age – for that there would need to be a series of snapshots over the years using similar populations each time. But even a series of snapshots is fraught with problems because musical availability & genres change [& some die while others are newly invented].

            They were asked about their current hours/week listening to music & the type of listening [listen while doing odd jobs etc] & there was two age groups in 2009 where musical engagement was maximum [from memory] the first peak being around 18 & another in mid/late life [from memory].

            This all makes sense in 2009 when portable music is available everywhere, but a 1940s snapshot would be very different because music was less ‘democratic’ – thus in the UK the majority of factory people listened to MoR dross on the shop floor such as ‘Workers Playtime'[BBC radio broadcast 1941 to 1964] while their ‘betters’ had access to pianos, sheet music, concerts, musicals, orchestras, phonographs, expensive acetate records & the requisite classical education. There must have been many people with no access to music at all except live homemade or down the pub if someone happened to play the Joanna.

            Different graph shapes entirely for 1941 I expect.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted November 26, 2018 at 5:14 am | Permalink

              I do agree with that.

              Allied to your point, the sound quality of instruments, recording equipment and sound reproduction has steadily improved almost beyond recognition over the decades.

              Also, it may well be that peoples’ tastes in music and appetite for music over time is influenced by such factors as availability. For example my liking for music has increased vastly in the last decade simply because of two extraneous factors: Youtube has made a vast selection of music easily available, so many hundreds of tunes that I liked (but would hardly ever have heard) are now available to me; and little portable MP3 players and headphones mean I can now listen to high-quality music while travelling or walking in a way never before possible.

              And that in turn probably subtly influences my musical tastes in that music with a definite rhythm to it is better suited to accompany walking.


            • rickflick
              Posted November 26, 2018 at 8:52 am | Permalink

              You’re right in pointing our early limitations on access to music. When I was 12 I listened to the Chordettes. I didn’t really have any choice. It was just what my mother’s radio had on:


              • Michael Fisher
                Posted November 26, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

                Chordettes – a cruel weapon

              • rickflick
                Posted November 26, 2018 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

                But like the data says, my tastes have changed:


              • Michael Fisher
                Posted November 26, 2018 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

                I do like Fred Armisen – just a little tilted away from normal

              • Diane G
                Posted November 27, 2018 at 4:32 am | Permalink

                Do not remember them. But they remind me of the Lennon Sisters (tho with sexier outfits).

              • Diane G
                Posted November 27, 2018 at 4:36 am | Permalink

                LOL! Little did I know your next post led to a Welk parody. Yep, I was subjected to lots of Lawrence too, back in the day…

              • Posted November 27, 2018 at 10:45 am | Permalink

                Me too! My father watched Lawrence Welk fairly regularly. I can’t really say I hated it. Patti Page on the other hand …

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted November 26, 2018 at 12:51 am | Permalink

          I also absolutely disagree with their efforts to fit simple mathematical curves to their data. WHY should such age-related data conform to any mathematical curve? Just because Excel (or whatever) has a curve-fitting function does NOT mean it’s applicable.
          If you look at the ‘Mellow’ graph for example, they fitted a cubic curve to it. This is not only daft, it is highly misleading. It would predict for example that by age 75 the ‘mellow’ factor should be off the clock. BUT if you look at the actual data points on the graph, they stay essentially flat (with some scatter) above age 45. This is not a cubic, people.

          I hate this sort of mathematical BS.


          • Posted November 26, 2018 at 9:40 am | Permalink

            While it is true that drawing such curves can lead people to false conclusions, it all depends on the author’s purpose and how it is presented. Sometimes the kind of curve is dictated by a mathematical mode the author is seeking to support or refute but other times it is simply a visual aid to allow people to see the data more clearly. Unless they actually did the calculations wrong, which happens, the curves represent truth. They are what they are.

  11. harrync
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side. Why did the fox cross the road? To get to the other side? No stupid, to eat the chicken.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 25, 2018 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

      Best one of those jokes I know is this:

      Fred: How do you keep an idiot in suspense?
      Me: I dunno, how?
      Fred: [says nothing, just grins slightly]
      Me: How? Well, how?
      Fred: [Grin gets broader]
      Me: HOW?? How how how? HOWWWWWW???? Ho… aaarghhh! You bastard!

      And sometimes the penny never drops.


  12. Diane G
    Posted November 26, 2018 at 3:47 am | Permalink


  13. Posted November 26, 2018 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know which is more clueless – the person who selected that Brothers Karamazov cover or D’Sousa’s grasp of history. On the other hand it doesn’t matter, since the effects of D’Sousa’s ignorance is far greater, since people actually seem to take that guy as something other than an ignorant buffoon. (Especially as he has already been corrected re: Nazism.)

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