Sunday: Hili dialogue

It’s Sunday, December 16, 2018, and Ceiling Cat’s Day (perhaps that should be Saturday since Ceiling Cat is Jewish). It’s National Chocolate Covered Anything Day, though some things aren’t worth eating even when covered with chocolate. It’s also the Day of Reconciliation in South Africa, whose origin is worth noting:

The origins of the celebration for the Afrikaners goes back to the Day of the Vow, celebrated on 16 December 1864 in commemoration of the Voortrekker victory over the Zulus at the Battle of Blood River. For African people, the date has been significant as one of both peaceful protests against racial injustice and of the founding of the more militant Umkhonto we Sizwe by the African National Congress (ANC) on 16 December 1961. Nelson Mandela and the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission chose a day that was special to both ethnic groups in the country in order to work on healing the damage done by Apartheid.

On this day in 1653, Oliver Cromwell became “Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland.” That lasted five years until Cromwell died of natural causes. Then, three years after his death, Cromwell’s body was dug up and subjected to a ludicrous “posthumous execution.” On December 16, 1773, America patriots, dressed as Mohawk Indians, dumped hundreds of crates of tea into Boston Harbor; this “Boston Tea Party” was a protest against the East India Company’s ability to sell tea in the colonies without paying tax. “No taxation without representation!” was the call of the patriots, and the Tea Party helped promote the coming American Revolution. Had that not happened, we’d still be paying for refills of coffee in America, as they do in British restaurants.

On this day in 1838 (see above), the Voortrekkers defeated the Zulus in  what is now KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. And on December 16, 1901, Beatrix Potter privately published her book The Tales of Peter Rabbit. It went on to sell 45 million copies. The cover of that private edition is below, but it was published commercially in 1902.

I’m a big Beatrix Potter fan. My favorite character of hers is, of course, Tom Kitten, though I don’t think it’s in the Tales. (I own a Wedgewood plate with the image below):

And, of course, don’t forget Jemima Puddle-Duck!


On to a sad note: on this day in 1942, Nazi Heinrich Himmler ordered that Roma (“gypsy”) people be sent to Auschwitz for extermination.  Exactly five years later, William Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter Brattain created the first practical point-contact transistor. Finally, it was on this day in 1968 that the Second Vatical Council revoked the Edict of Expulsion of Jews from Spain. Gee, thanks, Vatican—nearly 500 years too late!

Mea culpa: For some reason I can’t fathom, I missed noting that yesterday was the seventh anniversary of Christopher Hitchens’s death. I’m sure many of us miss him, not only for his wit, uncompromising atheism, and political insights, but simply to see what he’d be writing about during the Trump administration. RIP, Mr. Hitchens—and I mean that metaphorically.

Notables born on this day include Catherine of Aragon (1485), Ludwig van Beethoven (1770), Jane Austen (1775), Wassily Kandinsky (1866), Margaret Mead (1901), Arthur C. Clarke (1917), Philip K. Dick (1928), Liv Ullmann (1938; she’s 80 today), Lesley Stahl (1941) and Trevor Pinnock (1946).

I highlighted Kandinsky three days ago as he died on December 13 (1944), but he’s one of my favorite painters and so we’ll see another of his works. BUT LOOK! I found this 1925 painting of his: “Yellow-Red=Blue,” and it’s genuine:

But if you flip it down you get a CAT!

And, sure enough, Kandinsky was a cat lover. I think I’ve discovered one of his secret messages. This cannot be a coincidence!

Those who died on this day include only two notables I want to highlight: Somerset Maugham (1965) and Colonel Sanders (1980).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili get some bad news:

Hili: Where is the bacon?
A: I ate it.
In Polish:
Hili: Gdzie jest ten bekon?
Ja: Zjadłem go.

Tweets from Grania. Re the one below, she notes that “We are all flattened piggies.”

This amazing nudibranch is, I believe, the Spanish Dancer (Hexabranchia sanguineus, meaning “six-gilled and bloody”):

For once, useful instructions on cat shampoo:

Steve Pinker refuses an unreasonable request:

This is the chillest cat since Kagonekoshiro (white basket cat):

This is either a really bad math problem—or a really good (i.e., sneaky) one:

Tweets from Matthew. First, a rare two-headed cat. But how does it poop?

Apparently everything on the Moon is black and white:

This turtle is mad as hell and isn’t going to take it any more:

I love glass frogs and other transparent animals. Imagine if there were glass humans!


  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    Had no idea how we got those free refills.

    Regarding Spain and the Vatican expulsion, it is very likely that money taken from the Jews helped to bankroll Columbus.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 1:22 am | Permalink

      “Had no idea how we got those free refills.”

      I suspect there is absolutely no connection whatever.


  2. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    … though some things aren’t worth eating even when covered with chocolate.

    If I’m recalling correctly, Milo Minderbinder, the wheeler-dealer mess officer in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, cornered the black market in Egyptian cotton and ended up with so much surplus, he tried covering cotton balls in chocolate and feeding them to his fellow GIs. The guys in Yossarian’s bomber unit hated it.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 7:40 am | Permalink

      They also were not crazy about their parachutes being stolen and replaced with two shares of M&M Enterprises.

    • Merilee
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      Hadn’t thought of Milo and his chocolate cotton balls in eons🤓

  3. Jim batterson
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    According to a comment on a nasa site, the cloud like wisps behind and in background to the astronaut is a hillside pockmarked bylighter scars of meteorite impacts. Interesting information on scale of lunar surface topography.

  4. Posted December 16, 2018 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    So head butting evolved earlier in reptiles and that’s where cats got it from? I hope PCCe can comment.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    The juxtaposition of Auschwitz and William Shockley is poignant, given that, after his career as a physicist, Shockley went on to infamy for his views promoting racial eugenics.

  6. Elizabeth Belyavin
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    I always loved the story of Kandinsky being entranced by a strange picture in his studio. It was of course one of his own paintings which had been leant against the wall upside down and lead to the beginnings of pure abstraction.

    • rickflick
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      I remember that. It made me like him more.

  7. CAS
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    “posthumous execution”. Finally, a form of execution that may be stupid, but is certainly painless!

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      It’s intended for (and was probably successful in) inflicting pain on his surviving friends, family and colleagues.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 1:24 am | Permalink

        Not that he didn’t deserve it. “Lord Protector” – sounds like Big Brother, doesn’t it? He obviously had a God complex.


  8. Posted December 16, 2018 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    We can see that the Moon is black and white from down here on Earth. Perhaps we should be looking for color on the Moon instead of water.

    • rickflick
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      I’m sure there are colorful minerals up there. But, they are smothered in dust which must be an average of all colors present.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted December 16, 2018 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        What we see reflected is the incident light from large numbers (very large numbers) of specular surfaces acting as “front surface” mirrors. So it’s a pretty good approximation to sunlight.

        • rickflick
          Posted December 16, 2018 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

          That sounds right.

    • bPer
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      Already done, on the same flight:

      APOD: Orange Soil at Shorty Crater


  9. Wayne Robinson
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Well, Beethoven’s Nineth Symphony lasts at least 60 minutes, not 40 minutes. Some performances last over 70 minutes. A performance lasting 40 minutes would be very fast. The scherzo would be over almost before it started.

    I love Kandinsky, but I prefer his Improvisation series to his later geometric series.

    • Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      Also, it doesn’t matter how many people are in the orchestra, if you don’t have a choir, you can’t play the Ninth at all.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted December 16, 2018 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

        Isn’t that the one that needs a battery of cannon to be played properly?

        • Merilee
          Posted December 16, 2018 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

          I think the cannon are in the 1812 Overture.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted December 16, 2018 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

            So, an orchestra with that in it’s repertoire needs to comply with ITER ? That’s a pig of a set of regulations. A non-flying, desk-blocking pig.

            • rickflick
              Posted December 16, 2018 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

              I’m pretty sure they fire blanks. 😎

              • Posted December 17, 2018 at 1:28 am | Permalink

                Just gunpowder in the cannon. No cannonballs allowed on stage.

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted December 17, 2018 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

                I’ve never quite worked out how a gun can be “blank firing” only. There were enough reports of “blank firing” devices being made back into effective weapons, back when handguns were lightly regulated. So the methods used must be easily circumvented.

              • rickflick
                Posted December 17, 2018 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

                True that may be, but musicians are the some of the least likely to resort to circumvention of that sort. I doubt your concerns are warranted.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted December 18, 2018 at 1:27 am | Permalink

              Hardly. That would presume that only the US manufactures ammunition, whereas I am reliably informed that several other countries do so.


              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted December 19, 2018 at 3:50 am | Permalink

                But different manufacturers make ammunition for their own sizes of guns, or in whatever size the military use, so ammunition from a US manufacturer’s gun won’t fit a European-made gun.

    • Posted December 17, 2018 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      The biggest problem is that this is not a *math* problem at all, but a problem in using mathematics to analyze a factual situation. (I.e., in what is misleadingly called “mathematical modelling”.)

      If the instructor knows *that*, it becomes an excellent teachable moment on how this process works. If not, you get situations like one of my math teachers accidentally assigning a class test problem that did not realize that pH := – log concentration, and instead thought it was := log concentration. This confused a lot of folks, etc.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 1:31 am | Permalink

        A ship is tied up at the wharf with a rope ladder hanging over the side, with rungs a foot apart. At low tide sixteen rungs are exposed. If the tidal range is six feet, how many rungs are exposed at high tide?


        • rickflick
          Posted December 18, 2018 at 7:07 am | Permalink

          I think that’s one of those trick questions that assumes there are no drunken sailors.

  10. Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful frog!

    • rickflick
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Wouldn’t you just love to have had one in high school biology class? No more vivisection for me!

  11. Posted December 16, 2018 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Good eyes, Jerry! The Yellow-Red-Blue painting seems to have not just a cat, but a scene from nature, red in tooth and claw. Poor birdie perhaps?

  12. Posted December 16, 2018 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    A follow-up on the Beethoven question:


    • Merilee
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      Great questions, but I don’t think she should have added the warning.

  13. Posted December 17, 2018 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    On the frog – imagine the equivalent of that done Kermit style? 😉

%d bloggers like this: