Friday: Hili dialogue

It’s Friday, December 7, 2018, and of course this date always reminds those of a certain age of Pearl Harbor (more below). It’s also National Cotton Candy DayFlag Land Base Day in Scientology (I didn’t know they had holidays), and, of course, National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day in the U.S. More below.

On this day in 1703, the Great Storm of 1703 occurred in the southern part of Britain. It was the most powerful windstorm ever recorded in this area, with winds gusting up to 120 miles per hour. Over 9,000 people died, including 1,000 seamen. The Church, of course, declared that this was punishment for the sins of the Britons. On December 7, 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. And on this day in 1842, the New York Philharmonic gave its first concert. Wikipedia gives the program:

The first concert of the Philharmonic Society took place on December 7, 1842 in the Apollo Rooms on lower Broadway before an audience of 600. The concert opened with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, led by Hill himself. Two other conductors, German-born Henry Christian Timm and French-born Denis Etienne, led parts of the eclectic, three-hour program, which included chamber music and several operatic selections with a leading singer of the day, as was the custom. The musicians operated as a cooperative society, deciding by a majority vote such issues as who would become a member, which music would be performed and who among them would conduct. At the end of the season, the players would divide any proceeds among themselves.

On this day in 1922, the Parliament of Northern Ireland voted to not to join with Southern Ireland but to remain part of the UK. On December 7, 1930, according to Wikipedia, “W1XAV in Boston, Massachusetts telecasts video from the CBS radio orchestra program, The Fox Trappers. The telecast also includes the first television commercial in the United States, an advertisement for I.J. Fox Furriers, who sponsored the radio show.”

See here for supporting evidence (no video appears to exist). Yet many sites say that this Bulova watch commercial, aired in 1941, is the first true television commercial. I leave it to your judgment.

On this day in 1932, Albert Einstein was granted his American visa, and moved to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he was to remain until he died.

On this day in 1941, 353 Japanese planes of the Imperial Navy, having taken off from six aircraft carriers, launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific fleet anchored in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (it was early Sunday morning). The toll: besides the fleet losing 7 of its 8 battleships, 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 wounded (usually there are far more wounded than dead). Nearly half of the American dead came from the bombing and explosion of then battleship U.S.S. Arizona. The Japanese lost only 29 planes, 5 midget submarines, and 64 servicemen. One Japanese sailor in a midget submarine, Kazuo Sakamaki, was captured, becoming America’s first POW of the war. (The war, of course, hadn’t officially started, but Pearl Harbor led to Roosevelt’s declaration of war on Japan the very next day). The Arizona still lies slightly submerged in Pearl Harbor, a national memorial as well as an internment vessel of the dead sailor, and I’ll be visiting it in a few weeks.

On December 7, 1972, Apollo 17, the very last Apollo moon mission, was launched. Two men walked on the Moon (and drove a lunar rover), and the crew took the famous photograph of the Earth, The Blue Marble, from 18,000 miles away. It’s still a stunner. (Remember, this is not the “pale blue dot” photo taken in 1990 and made famous by Carl Sagan.)

Finally it was on this day in 1982 that Charles Brooks, Jr. became the first person executed by lethal injection in the U.S. and probably in the world. Other countries like China and Vietnam later adopted the procedure.

Notables born on this day include Theodor Schwann (1810), Joyce Cary (1957), Noam Chomsky (1928; he’s 90 today), Harry Chapin (1942), and Larry Bird (1956).  Those who fell asleep on this day include the Roman philosopher Cicero (43 BC), Kirsten Flagstad (1962), Rube Goldberg (1970), Thornton Wilder (1975), Robert Graves and Potter Stewart (both 1985), Haystacks Calhoun (1989) and Jeane Kirkpatrick (2006).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the animals don’t want to go out because it’s raining.

A: I’m going for a walk because I have to think.
Hili: We will leave you to it.
In Polish:
Ja: Idę na spacer, bo muszę pomyśleć.
Hili: Nie będziemy ci przeszkadzać.

Reader Jon sent two Yuletide strips from the comic Pearls Before Swine by Stephen Pastis:

Christmas Abys!:

This is why ducks migrate south for the winter:

A picture sent by reader Avis;

I have to say that I have mixed feelings about this PETA tweet. I sympathize with some of PETA’s goals, but policing language in this way reflects, as Stephen Fry said, a preference for being right over being effective. Nevertheless, the first tweet below is real:

And of course there was snarky responses (h/t: Grania):

The pro-bird version:

Also from Grania (a “Culchie” is a rural Irish person):

Re what’s below: What about the other half?

Tweets from Matthew. Having written a book on the genetic code, Matthew really likes this pin:

Caecilians look like worms or snakes, but they’re tropical amphibians that live underground. Here’s one of them:

Dermophis mexicanus

And here are the eggs, about to hatch. Note that there’s a brief larval stage,


  1. dogugotw
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Several years back we had the pleasure to be on a ‘Tiger Cruise’ on CVN 72, the USS Abraham Lincoln, from Hawaii to San Diego. The ship passed the Arizona memorial with all hands on deck rendering honors. Seeing all of those kids, and most of them were just kids, pay respects to those kids that died on Dec 7 was quite sobering. One keeps hoping ‘never again’ will become a reality but it never seems to quite make it.

    • W.Benson
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      My being someone of a certain age, yesterday while doing chores it came to mind that “tomorrow is Pearl Harbor Day.”

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    While visiting Hawaii & Pearl Harbor, be sure and go into the theater first and see the short documentary before heading out to the site. Also punch bowl cemetery is worth a look. If you go to the Windward side of Oahu the Island looks more like Hawaii should look. I lived over there for 5 years in the 80s, Valley of the Temples, Kaneohe.

  3. Peter
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    “On this day in 1922, the Parliament of Northern Ireland voted to not to join with Southern Ireland but to remain part of the UK. ”
    Why and since when was there a separate Northern Ireland Parliament anyway? Some gerrymandering could have predicted this result.Nearly 100 years later the UK is still stuck with the senseless decision to divide the island.

  4. Posted December 7, 2018 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    After Cicero “fell asleep” (murdered by order of Marc Antony) his head and hands were nailed to the rostrum of the Roman forum.

  5. Michael Fisher
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 8:17 am | Permalink


    “…on this day in 1982 that Charles Brooks, Jr. became the first person executed by lethal injection in the U.S. and probably in the world.

    In October 1939 Adolf Hitler signed a “euthanasia note” backdated to 1 September 1939 which authorized his physician Karl Brandt and Reichsleiter Philipp Bouhler to implement AKTION T4 **. “… half of those killed were taken from church-run asylums, often with the approval of the Protestant or Catholic authorities of the institutions.”

    Perhaps 300,000 were murdered. One of the methods was lethal injection – phenol was a popular choice [which I have smelled & is, by chance, one of the aromatics in Islay Scotch whisky.

    Gerhard Kretschmar might be the first state authorised killing/murder by lethal injection a couple of months before Aktion T4. Gerhard was a “trial balloon” for the euthanasia program that followed – he was snuffed out by injection on July 25th ’39. His parents were ardent Nazis.

    ** “Aktion T4” is the postwar name

    • Posted December 7, 2018 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      Cleopatra reportedly committed suicide by lethal injection.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted December 7, 2018 at 9:24 am | Permalink


      • David Coxill
        Posted December 7, 2018 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

        A line from “Carry On Cleo”
        Cleopatra “I have a poisonous Asp”
        Mark Anthony ,looking at her rear .
        “I wouldn’t say that “

    • rickflick
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      I always thought lethal injection to be the most humane way to die. It was used by Dr. Kevorkian. The way our dear dog was put down (dying of cancer) was with an injection to relax her and then the lethal drug. Her death was very peaceful. I remarked to the vet that that’s the way I would like to go. She said a lot of her clients say the same thing.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted December 7, 2018 at 10:08 am | Permalink

        What was her name?

        • rickflick
          Posted December 7, 2018 at 11:24 am | Permalink

          The vet, I don’t remember. The dog was Maggie. She’s my avatar as a pup. Some odd mix of Labrador we assume. Like losing a member of the family, as many of us know.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted December 7, 2018 at 11:28 am | Permalink

            yes, I meant the dog Maggie
            I asked you about your avatar a while back, but now I know it’s of mini-Maggie 🙂

      • Posted December 7, 2018 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

        I’ve had to euthanize dogs. Several dogs. And cats, too. That’s the humane way to treat a beloved pet when its quality of life plummets below a tolerable level. I’m categorically against capital punishment, but if they have to do it, and do it right, just hire a good vet.

    • David Coxill
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      karl brandt has hanged ,bouhler killed himself while in prison ,he knew what was in store for him.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    “bring home the bagels”

    Jeez, sounds like nothing but a typical weekend around my pad. Of all the meat-bowdlerized phrases, it works worst as a substitute for “bring home the bacon.” Doubt it woulda worked for Procol Harum, either:

  7. Quadrivial
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    My favorite response to the PETA ad has been: “Thanks PETA for showing us that there’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      I’ve been trying to change one of those “objectionables” to “flogging a dead metaphor” for ages.

  8. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    in Scientology (I didn’t know they had holidays)

    The daily quota of wallets to be emptied is halved on their holidays?
    Or doubled, in respect of L.Ron Hubbard’s deep devotion to the principle of tax-free profits.

    • Posted December 7, 2018 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      They *are* a religion … (at least self-described, which I think is the only way to go for many purposes).

  9. David Coxill
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Love the ducks in the snow ,the way they all turned round at the same time.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      Those ducks are very funny. Wish I knew what they were quacking, but I can imagine.

      • Christopher
        Posted December 7, 2018 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

        If you want something less funny, I suggest googling “Baby Caecilians Feeding”…

        It makes me glad to be a mammal.

        • Posted December 7, 2018 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

          But they are cute! They resemble mammalian babies sucking.

  10. David Coxill
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    When we were in the Kananaskis country just West of Calgary ,i took a photo of a single Bald Eagle in a tree so off in the distance .

  11. Posted December 7, 2018 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    PETA might think they’ve solved the ‘bringing home the bacon’ problem, but the supermarket around the corner from where I used to live in Berlin sells pre-packaged ham and cheese bagels.

    • David Coxill
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      According to today’s Guardian ,colleges in America have vending machines that offer bacon for $1

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      PETA lost the plot years ago. Always trying too hard. The animal-rights equivalent of Pomo.


  12. Christopher
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    I dunno, I kinda like some of those new peta-isms, especially “Bring Home The Bagels”.
    Of course the following morning I’d have to “Kill Two Turds With One Groan”.

    Now can we talk about this national food day nonsense? Cotton Candy? In December? And yesterday it was gazpacho?! A summer county fair-type food and a cool summer soup being celebrated in December? Really?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 10:26 am | Permalink


      • Christopher
        Posted December 7, 2018 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        Well, in which nation are these “National” food days being celebrated? And furthermore, today is National COTTON CANDY Day, not National FAIRY FLOSS Day, so stick that in yer didgeridoo and blow it! 😝

        And better to be a hemispherist than a hemipenis!

  13. Christopher
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    And I suppose PETA would also be against “spanking the monkey”, “choking the chicken”, and “beating your meat”, but I suppose “flicking the bean” would be allowed?

    Sorry, I know this is a family site…😬

  14. littleboybrew
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Jerry, war memorials do not usually evoke a response in me, but two certainly did: the Vietnam Memorial in DC and the USS Arizona.

    • Posted December 7, 2018 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Another one which messsed with me is the one to victims of bombings in London. (I haven’t seen the Arizona, though)

  15. Posted December 7, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Do the *colours* as such signify anything? I know each patch represents one amino acid, but green = whatever because green is like … or something?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      The very, very dark green represents Leucine
      The different colours [or patterns in some cases] represent different amino acids
      The stripy pattern at TTA, TAG & TGA is the stop codon

      It follows this table:

      • Posted December 11, 2018 at 11:30 am | Permalink

        Yes, but is there any connection between green and leucine? (I wondered about some sort of mnemonic.)

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted December 11, 2018 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

          <a href=";>HERE’S A LIST of half a dozen colour schemes for amino acids. I’ve also turned up colour schemes based on chemical properties such as molecule size.

          There appears to be no agreed standardisation.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted December 11, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

          Bad link! Try THIS ONE

  16. Jenny Haniver
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    This is a brief and, dare I say, almost haiku-like eye-witness reminiscence of being dive-bombed and torpedoed at Pearl Harbor

  17. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    The ancient alternative to flipping the bird is throwing figs.

    When Laurence Olivier’s film of “Henry V” was first released in America, he had to edit out all uses of the words “bastard” and “damn”, but the line “A figo for thee, Harry” was left in because the censors genuinely didn’t know what it meant.

    The residents of the Circle of the Blasphemers in Dante’s Inferno are “throwing figs” at God. Some editions have a footnote explaining this- some do not.

  18. Posted December 8, 2018 at 4:25 am | Permalink

    Pedantic typo alert: “an internment vessel of the dead sailor” – should that not be interment

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