Wednesday: Hili dialogue

It’s Wednesday, November 28, 2018, with only three more days to go until we’re into December. And I have a new driver’s license!

It’s National French Toast Day, a treat I much love for breakfast but never get.  I have no idea why they call it “French toast”, since I’ve never seen it in France and I doubt it was invented there. And it’s Albanian Flag Day, celebrating that country’s independence from Turkey in 1912 as well as the raising of that flag in 1443, both of which occurred on November 28. I bet you don’t know what the Albanian flag looks like; if you don’t, go here.

On this day in 1443, quoting Wikipedia, “Skanderbeg and his forces liberate Kruja in central Albania and raise the Albanian flag.” On November 28, 1582, William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway paid a £40 fee for their marriage license. That was EXPENSIVE in those days! Here’s the bishop’s register and an enlargement of the bond record (click to enlarge), but I’ll be damned if I can read anything or make out “Shakespeare” or “Hathaway”:

On this day in 1660, twelve men, including Christopher Wren and Robert Boyle, decided to found what has become England’s Royal Society.  And in 1893, women’s suffrage took effect in New Zealand in that country’s general election. I believe that the Kiwis were the first to give women their right to vote.  On this day in 1895, according to Wikipedia, “The first American automobile race takes place over the 54 miles from Chicago’s Jackson Park to Evanston, Illinois. Frank Duryea wins in approximately 10 hours.”  Ten hours to go 54 miles? An ultramarathon runner could beat that, I bet!  On this day in 1925, the Grand Ole Opry had its first broadcast from Nashville, Tennessee, billed as the “WSM Barn Dance.”

On November 28, 1967, the first pulsar, PSR B1919+21, was discovered by Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Antony Hewish; it had a period of 1.33 seconds.  Hewish and Martin Ryle were awarded the Nobel Prize for radioastronomy (and this discovery) in 1974, but Bell was left out. It was Fred Hoyle who later found that pulsars were neutron stars (Bell and Hewish briefly entertained the idea that the regularity might mean the presence of extraterrestrial life), and he thought, as do many, that Bell should have also gotten the Prize.

On this day in 1972, Claude Buffet and Roger Bontems were guillotined at La Santé Prison, making them the last people executed in Paris. But not in France—the country’s last execution was that of Hamida Djandoubi on September 10, 1977. That, too, used a guillotine. Finally, it was on this day in 1990 that Margaret Thatcher resigned as head of the Conservative Party and thus lost her job as Prime Minister. She was succeeded by John Major (who remembers him?)

Notables born on this day include William Blake (1757), Stefan Zweig (1881), Ernst Röhm (1887), Berry Gordy, Jr. (1929, he’s still with us at 89), Gary Hart (1936), and Randy Newman (1943).  Here’s Blake’s illustration (he did several) on the poem “Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes“:

Those who died on November 28 include Washington Irving (1859), Richard Wright (1960), Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands (1962), Rosalind Russell (1976), and Jeffrey Dahmer and Jerry Rubin (both 1994; Dahmer was murdered in prison).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is anxious (she’s a Jewish cat):

Hili: I’m anxious about what can come.
A: And what can come?
Hili: How do I know?
In Polish:
Hili: Niepokoję się tym, co może przyjść.
Ja: A co może przyjść?
Hili: A skąd ja mam wiedzieć?

A tweet from Heather Hastie, who said this story made her tear up. And it is indeed a wonderful tale of a man, his stork, the stork’s inamorato, and their 59 grandchildren. Be sure to watch the whole thing, as it will give your day a good start.

Another tweet from Heather via Ann German. Seriously, though—somebody expected cats to work?

A tweet from reader Graham; I may have posted “Pavlov’s Cats” before:

Tweets from Grania. I’m not sure whether these are purebreds, and, if they are, what sort.

And this one baffles me, since I don’t know the music video, much less the music, and can’t figure out what the relevance of this cat is:

This whole thread is funny. It starts with this tweet by J. K. Rowling (do you know the bird?), and continues on, with none other than Nick Cohen joining the conversation:

A wonderful visit, but mallards aren’t the sharpest knife in the drawer (why couldn’t Mom fly over the fence?)

Tweets from Matthew. I’m not sure these goats are following the rules:

I don’t have to read this article (though I will) to know that the answer is “Hell, no!”

Another cat watching television:



  1. Mark Jones
    Posted November 28, 2018 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    Typo: Shakespeare was married in 1582, not 1660.

  2. Mark Jones
    Posted November 28, 2018 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    FYI, the “Virtual Insanity” video features the singer Jay Kay appearing to walk while going nowhere, like the cat.

  3. Michael Fisher
    Posted November 28, 2018 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    FRENCH TOAST [the name]
    Allegedly from Albany, New York, innkeeper named Joseph French. He created the dish in 1724, and advertised it as “French Toast” [no apostrophe]. In France it’s called pain perdu – it’s often served as a sweet dessert with custard. Over here in Britland we have bread pudding which is amazing or rubbish depending on the recipe. I like the subset of recipe’s that insist on the use of brandy or rum – the trick there is to throw away the bread & milk etc.

    “Virtual Insanity” by Jamiroquai is mentioned because it features the singer moonwalking. The song is crap, but you can turn off the sound:

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted November 28, 2018 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      Apart from releasing consistently annoying and shit music Jamiroquai were also renowned for the lead singer’s habit of wearing a stupid hat wherever he went.

      Famously he refused to speak to the NME for a decade because they referred to him as ‘the twat in the hat’ whenever his name came up anywhere.

    • Diane G
      Posted December 2, 2018 at 12:49 am | Permalink

      Watched with the sound off–reminded me of Little Edie’s dance in Grey Gardens. 😀

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted December 2, 2018 at 1:22 am | Permalink


  4. Mike
    Posted November 28, 2018 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    I think its a scandal that Jocelyn Bell Burnell didn’t get the Nobel Prize, but she doesn’t appear to hold a grudge when she is asked about it in Interviews, me? I would have a helluva grudge.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted November 28, 2018 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      She doesn’t hold a grudge. Bell has said she thinks it is fair that her doctoral supervisor got the recognition:

      “…I believe it would demean Nobel Prizes if they were awarded to research students, except in very exceptional cases, and I do not believe this is one of them. Finally, I am not myself upset about it – after all, I am in good company, am I not!”


      A lovely woman [I’ve heard her on various radio programmes], now 75yo & still working. It must be strange to have worked 55 years or so & to be recognised publicly for what happened [semi-negatively in a way] in the first 10% of ones career only.

      2018, she was awarded the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics & she gave the £2.3m award to help women, ethnic minority & refugee students become physics researchers.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted November 28, 2018 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      The Prize committee and Bell herself does not think it is odd, and after reviewing the facts it looks good to me too:

      “The paper announcing the discovery of pulsars had five authors. Bell’s thesis supervisor Antony Hewish[5][6] was listed first, Bell second. Hewish was awarded the Nobel Prize, along with the astronomer Martin Ryle. Many prominent astronomers criticised Bell’s omission,[12] including Sir Fred Hoyle.[13][14] In 1977, Bell Burnell played down this controversy, saying, “I believe it would demean Nobel Prizes if they were awarded to research students, except in very exceptional cases, and I do not believe this is one of them.”[15] The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in its press release announcing the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics,[16] cited Ryle and Hewish for their pioneering work in radio-astrophysics, with particular mention of Ryle’s work on aperture-synthesis technique, and Hewish’s decisive role in the discovery of pulsars.”

      [ ]

      Maybe if they had awarded three people for the same discovery, since Bell was 2nd author. But as it stands it follows the Prize stipulations.

    • Posted November 28, 2018 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      I think its a scandal that Jocelyn Bell Burnell didn’t get the Nobel Prize, …

      It’s not a “scandal”, it can be argued either way. It was Hewish who had spent his multi-decade career developing the aperture-synthesis radio telescopes, progressively designing better ones, raising the money to build them, and leading the group that built them.

      Once that radio telescope had been built, pulsars were low-hanging fruit, and the team were bound to stumble on them before long. Bell Burnell was a graduate student who had been on the team about two years when she was on observer duty the night the telescope scanned across the first pulsar.

      Maybe she could have been added as the third recipient of the prize, that would perhaps have been fair, but it’s not a “scandal” that she was not, it’s more of a judgement call.

      Jocelyn herself is ambivalent on the issue, recognising that the whole intellectual drive to develop aperture-synthesis radio astronomy was down to Hewish and Ryle.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 28, 2018 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    No tunes by birthday boy Randy Newman? He’s one of the artists best-suited to helping us make it through this, the Age of Trump. Here, let’s let Mr. Newman offer up “A Few Words In Defense of Our Country”:

  6. Mark Ayling
    Posted November 28, 2018 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Re. J.K. Rowling:

    That looks like a Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter Nisus), often seen waiting to ambush small birds in British gardens.

    • Adrian
      Posted November 28, 2018 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      Also, it’s a male.

  7. Barney
    Posted November 28, 2018 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    That’s a quality Twitter thread – not only J.K. Rowling and Nick Cohen, but then Robert Webb of ‘Mitchell and Webb’ joins in:

    I think most here will have seen some Mitchell and Webb, but here’s an example:

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted November 28, 2018 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      Robert Webb seems like a sensible guy. I remember him stepping in when Russell Brand was telling all his fans there was no point in voting – he told him to ‘read some Orwell’. Russell Brand really doesn’t get a tenth of the criticism he deserves. He’s a total anus.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted November 28, 2018 at 8:32 am | Permalink

        I don’t think only affected speech, hair & dress can support a long career so perhaps he’ll gather dust soon like his My Booky Wook – no longer available even at the dozen charity shops near me.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted November 28, 2018 at 11:58 am | Permalink

          Unfortunately he’s got a very strong following among thick people. He’s a strange, ‘anti-establishment’ populist and he appeals to a lot of conspirational far-lefties, pseudo-revolutionaries and other assorted idiots from across the political spectrum who mistake torrential logorrhea for intelligence. Those kind of people aren’t in short supply.

  8. darrelle
    Posted November 28, 2018 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    I think Nick Cohen’s off to a good start with his column.

  9. Posted November 28, 2018 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Growing up in a lower-middle class English family, we never called it French Toast. Instead, my Mom called it “bread dipped in egg”. We never put syrup and butter on it, just a little salt and pepper maybe.

    • rickflick
      Posted November 28, 2018 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      My mom made something called “egg in the hole”, made by punching out a hole in toast with a juice glass or egg cup and frying an egg in it. The name was equally descriptive. None of us kids had any complaint.

      • darrelle
        Posted November 28, 2018 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        A common name for that dish is “Eggs In A Basket.” But “egg in a hole” works perfectly fine too.

        • Posted November 28, 2018 at 11:51 am | Permalink

          That doesn’t bode well for the food called “toad in a hole”.

          • darrelle
            Posted November 28, 2018 at 11:54 am | Permalink

            Had to look that up. Sausages in Yorkshire pudding batter with gravy? I’d eat that!

        • Steve Pollard
          Posted November 28, 2018 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          We just called it “eggy bread”. My missus wheeled it out for our grandkids a few months ago. Now they demand it whenever they come round.

          • darrelle
            Posted November 29, 2018 at 6:52 am | Permalink


    • darrelle
      Posted November 28, 2018 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      My god man, how awful! If we were co-located I’d fix you some delightful French toast. Heavy cream, eggs, agave nectar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, salt, Chicago Italian bread fresh from my local bakery, fried in butter.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted November 28, 2018 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        No, no, eggy bread is nice. It’s a little like scrambled eggs on toast and there’s nothing wrong with that.

        • darrelle
          Posted November 29, 2018 at 6:48 am | Permalink

          I’m fine with that too. Can we add sausage?

  10. Derec Avery
    Posted November 28, 2018 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    “. . . but I’ll be damned if I can read anything or make out “Shakespeare” or “Hathaway””

    Left hand page of the two page photograph. Count 16 lines up from bottom ( or 26 lines down from first line at top). The line you end on has the entry that seems to be “wm shaspere” included in it. I believe that’s the line you are looking for.

    You won’t find the name “Hathaway” in that list as evidently it lists the wrong woman( Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton to be precise)as the person Shakespeare is going to marry.

  11. Posted November 28, 2018 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    That’s not goat math, that’s a goat conservation law. 🙂

  12. Hempenstein
    Posted November 28, 2018 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Stork vid’s great! And an excellent recommendation for Croatia.

  13. Posted November 28, 2018 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    I’ll be damned if I can read anything or make out “Shakespeare” or “Hathaway”

    Don’t bother straining your eyes.

    The first image is of the Bishop’s Register, granting a November 27, 1582 marriage license for Wm Shaxpere and Annem Whately from Temple Grafton.

    The following day, bonds are announced (second image) for William Shagspere and Anne Hathaway from Shottery.

    Shagspere is 18; Hathaway, 25. Hathaway gives birth 6 months later.

    It is unknown whether these represent two different prospective brides or rather scribal errors. “William Shakspere” was also a not uncommon name, so the possibility of two grooms cannot be ruled out.

  14. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted November 28, 2018 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Richard Dawkins speaks somewhat disparagingly of William Blake in his book “Unweaving the Rainbow” but spoke more highly of him in an interview with The Guardian. I wonder if he just likes some bits and not others or if he changed his mind.

    Blake’s cosmology is clearly an influence on Philip Pullman’s fantasy trilogy “His Dark Materials” which was written as a kind of humanist alternative the C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series. (Both series open with a girl hiding in a wardrobe.)

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