Thursday: Hili dialogue

It’s Thursday, December 20, 2018, with only five days left until the beginning of the six-day holiday of Coynezaa. It’s National Sangria Day, another case of blatant cultural appropriation. And it’s also International Human Solidarity Day, but I’d prefer International Animal Solidarity Day (or, if you don’t want to leave out the plants, International Organism Solidarity Day).

The news—or is it “olds”?—from history is a bit thin today. On December 20, 1803, the Louisiana Purchase, in which we got millions of acres from the duped French for almost nothing, was completed in a ceremony in New Orleans. 57 years later to the day, South Carolina became the first state to try to secede from the United States by adopting The Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union . The explicit reason was the North’s opposition to “the institution of slavery.” The fighting didn’t begin, however, until April 12 of the next year, when Confederate guns fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.

On this day in 1915, the last Australian troops were evacuated from Gallipoli after an eight-month debacle in which the Allies failed. We mustn’t forget, however, the many other allies and Turkish soldiers who died: over 100,000 in total. Casualties on both sides were roughly equal, as the chart below shows, but the allies failed to gain control of the straits, and so many died in vain. In fact, the entire war was one in which soldiers died in vain.

On December 20, 1924, Adolf Hitler was released from Landsberg Prison in Bavaria, where he’d been sentenced to five years but served only one. It was there that he dictated Mein Kampf to Rudolf Hess. The prison still stands, and is still administered by the Bavarian prison system, though I doubt it holds criminals.  It doesn’t look too daunting:


Hitler’s “confinement” doesn’t seem too punitive: here he is with some of his pals in Landsberg. There are flowers and Adolf is wearing Lederhosen! Hess is there, second from right. 

Left to right: Hitler, Emil Maurice, Oberstleutnant Kriebel, Rudolf Hess, Dr. Friedrich Weber

It was on December 20, 1946, that the famous movie It’s a Wonderful Life was premiered in New York City. “Don’t you know me, Bert?” It’s only a matter of time before the Outrage Brigade finds something ideologically unsavory about that classic film. (In fact, I bet a savvy reader can find some objections online.)

According to Wikipedia, it was on this day in 1987 that, “in the worst peacetime sea disaster, the passenger ferry Doña Paz [sank] after colliding with the oil tanker Vector in the Tablas Strait in the Philippines, killing an estimated 4,000 people (1,749 official).”

Exactly ten years later, Portugal handed Macau back to China. On December 20, 2007, Elizabeth II became the oldest monarch ever of the United Kingdom, passing Queen Victoria, who lived 81 years, 7 months, and 29 days. Elizabeth is now over 92, and has reigned for 66 years and 316 days. I wouldn’t put it past her to outlive Prince Charles!

Notables born on December 20 include Pieter de Hooch (1629), Branch Rickey (1881), Uri Geller (1946, still bending spoons), and Alan Parsons (1948). I tried to find a de Hooch painting with a cat in it, but he seemed to paint only d*gs. I’m told that the absence of cats from the Netherlands at that time was due to their being used in the famous Dutch dish kattenstoofpot.

Those who fell asleep on December 20 include Sacagawea (1812, on the U.S. silver dollar), Moss Hart (1961), John Steinbeck (1968), Bobby Darin (1973), Richard J. Daley (1976), Arthur Rubenstein (1982) and Carl Sagan (1996).

Sacagawea, of course, became famous for helping Lewis and Clark on their great expedition west to explore the Louisiana Territory. Americans don’t see many silver dollars (this one’s actually copper coated with nickel), but here’s a photo of one with Sacagawea’s portrait—and that of her son Jean Baptiste Charbonneau)—on it. The copyright to the image is owned by the U.S. Mint, which is unusual since most portraits on coins and currency are in the public domain:


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is nodding off on her jars, but pretends to be awake:

A: Are you asleep?
Hili: No, I’m meditating.
In Polish:
Ja: Śpisz?
Hili: Nie, medytuję

Here’s Hili sitting on those same jars as a kitten:

Reader Richard sent a cartoon:

Two cartoons from reader Merilee:


This is a good one, but also sad:

A tweet sent by conservation biologist Mark Plotkin. (I bet, though Mark’s Jewish, he doesn’t have the “Gefilte” fish bumper icon that I own; I’ve shown it below.)

This is the one I have:

From reader Nilou; the latest (and cutest) cover of Nature Ecology & Evolution:

Tweets from Heather Hastie. That is a wicked claw!

From Heather via Ann German. As Heather says, “It’s a good way of getting through to people why Trump is wrong.”

Tweets from Grania. Is that play or a potential lunch?

Round blue jellyfish, about which we know virtually nothing:

Yep, this is a pretty good physics demonstration:

Tweets from Matthew. This looks like a cormorant eating a remora: a true mutualism for the whale shark and the bird, although the bird benefits way more than the shark (I’m assuming the remora slows the shark down just a wee bit).

This is cute, and ducks like bread, but it’s not good for them. DO NOT FEED BREAD TO DUCKS!

A gangsta fly collector!


  1. Serendipitydawg
    Posted December 20, 2018 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    with only five days left until the beginning of the six-day holiday of Coynezaa

    Any prescribed observances? I do have a bottle of Bushmills ready…

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted December 20, 2018 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      … unopened, by the way. I am counting the days.

    • Posted December 20, 2018 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Yes, I’m supposed to get a present every day from Christmas through my birthday (December 30). It’s like Hanukkah, but a personal holiday for ME.

      So far I have gotten zero presents. 😦

      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted December 20, 2018 at 8:14 am | Permalink

        I’ll get something in the post… should be with you some time in 2019 (UK post just doesn’t work in December).

        Not sure they come in your size (and they used the German spellling) 🙂

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted December 20, 2018 at 8:16 am | Permalink

          Sorry, meant italic not bold. Doh!

      • Mark Joseph
        Posted December 20, 2018 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

        Jerry, here’s the present that keeps on giving, as well as beefing up the historical importance of December 20. Dec. 20, 2005 was the date of the decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, deciding, in the words of the summary on the Wikipedia page, that: Teaching intelligent design in public school biology classes violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (and Article I, Section 3, of the Pennsylvania State Constitution) because intelligent design is not science and “cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.”

        The Sensuous Curmudgeon used to blog about this a lot, and referred to Dec. 20 as “Kitzmas,” which I think makes a nice pendant to Coynezaa.

  2. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted December 20, 2018 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    I was amused watching the Trump vs NanChuck ‘debate’ from a week ago that Trump has started talking about the “big, beautiful renovations” being done to the wall. He’s stopped saying any actual building work is going on.
    As long as he lowers expectations in a sufficiently gradual, step-by-step fashion his base doesn’t seem to care either.
    At his next rally they’ll be chanting ‘RENOVATE THAT WALL! RENOVATE THAT WALL!’…at the one after that he’ll have lowered expectations even further and it’ll be ‘RENOVATE THAT FENCE!’, the one after that it’ll be ‘PAINT THAT FENCE!’ and the one after that it’ll be ‘PAINT THAT ‘DO NOT ENTER’ SIGN!’. Eventually they’ll be screaming in ecstatic approbation as Trump stands before them promising that ‘Mexico will pay for that signpost’.

    • David Coxill
      Posted December 20, 2018 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      In Orwell’s 1984 ,the hero wonders do people really not remember the chocolate ration was reduced and then increased to the original level and was said by the party to be a real increase
      Or something like that .I would bet double think is a bit above the people who voted for TSS .

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted December 20, 2018 at 9:05 am | Permalink

        To be honest, with Trump I don’t even think he needs to lower his supporters’ expectations in a gradual way. He could probably just come out and suddenly tell them ‘we’re not going to build a wall any more – we’re just going to go to Taco Bell and hand out pamphlets to all the people who look Mexican’. They’d still cheer.

        What Orwell would make of this guy…

        • rickflick
          Posted December 20, 2018 at 11:29 am | Permalink

          What Orwell would make of this guy’s followers.

  3. Jon Mummaw
    Posted December 20, 2018 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Mere Smith’s tweet from Heather via Ann German is a good example of the“Four Dog Defense.”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 20, 2018 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      5. My dog is insane.

      Keep all your defense options open, I always say. 🙂

  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 20, 2018 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Fortunately, during WWI the British were already good at intercepting and decoding German messages and had the famous Zimmermann
    telegram that revealed they were expanding submarine warefare and proposed a military alliance with Mexico. Kind of a WWI version of Pearl Harbor. Some people had to be hit in the head with a hammer.

    • David Coxill
      Posted December 20, 2018 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      Wasn’t that major tithead franz von papen involved in that ?

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted December 20, 2018 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        In the history I read on this event, his name did not come up, however I would not be surprise if he was somehow involved. The guy was kind of crazy if you read all the stuff on line about him. Tried to plot an invasion of Canada and many other things.

        • Posted December 20, 2018 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

          Maybe he was too fond of maple syrup.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted December 20, 2018 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      I have a variety of animals on my bumper, but that’s because I’m short-sighted and I drive to work through a nature reserve.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted December 21, 2018 at 1:23 am | Permalink


  5. Posted December 20, 2018 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Interesting that those dollar coins are so rare in the US. I think all the Sacagawea dollars are here in Ecuador, where they are more common than dollar bills (we had adopted US currency as the official medium of exchange about twenty years ago). That’s the only US coin that doesn’t have an Ecuadorian-minted counterpart. I always have to be careful when I go back to the US and make sure that I pay with genuine American-minted quarters. But even the genuine Sacagawea dollar coins are troubling and mysterious to most Americans when I try to pay with them.

    • Posted December 20, 2018 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      They are beautiful. I guess that many have kept them as souvenirs and so have removed them from circulation. I would surely do so if I find one.

  6. RPGNo1
    Posted December 20, 2018 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Hitler was sentenced to five years “Festungshaft” (imprisonment in a fortress) for his participation in the Beer Hall Putsch. The imprisonment was a so-called “custodia honesta” (honourable custody).

  7. Posted December 20, 2018 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    “a true mutualism for the whale shark and the bird, although the bird benefits way more than the shark (I’m assuming the remora slows the shark down just a wee bit).”

    I thought the mutualism was between the shark and the remora? The remora cleans the shark, and in return gets carried around. If that is the case, then the bird eating the remora is not benefiting the shark.

    • Posted December 20, 2018 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      Apparently remoras don’t clean the host animal, they eat its feces!

  8. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted December 20, 2018 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Kattenstoofpot? Can’t be a famous dish, not only have I never heard of it, but Google leaves us virtually empty handed.
    Cats are still eaten in China and Vietnam (although it is illegal) and rarely in other Far East countries.
    I could find the story of an Italian cook who contended that cat stew is a traditional Tuscan dish. There are some other countries that ate cat in history, England, and also France and Italy in Roman times, Kameroon, Australia and Peru, but nothing about the Dutch.
    In fact, most references are to WEIT.
    Where did you hear that Jerry? Was it a reliable source?

  9. Posted December 20, 2018 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful video about inertia!
    And the one with the jellyfish also. I hope they don’t end up named after Trump.

  10. jahigginbotham
    Posted December 20, 2018 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    The Sacagawea Dollar introduced a new type of composition created to have a distinctive golden color. The composition consists of a core of pure copper with an outer layer of manganese brass consisting of 77% copper, 12% zinc, 7% manganese and 4% nickel.

    Including both the core and outer layers, the overall composition is 88.5% copper, 6% zinc, 3.5% manganese, and 2% nickel. This same composition was used for the Presidential Dollar series introduced in 2007.


    Nickel is more-or-less nickel colored.

  11. jahigginbotham
    Posted December 20, 2018 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    2nd Lt. Henry Gwyn Jeffreys Moseley was killed at Gallipoli.

  12. chrism
    Posted December 21, 2018 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    I’ve read the usual sources on the origins of WW1, and absorbed the received wisdom (the ‘powder keg’, mobilisation times, railway timetables, a place in the sun, poor little Belgium etc) that it was inevitable. But I have to say that Niall Ferguson’s book, The Pity of War certainly opened my eyes to the more accidental aspects, and in particular the fact that the British cabinet very nearly voted not to intervene at all. How the 20th century would have been different!

  13. David Duncan
    Posted December 21, 2018 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    “Elizabeth is now over 92, and has reigned for 66 years and 316 days. I wouldn’t put it past her to outlive Prince Charles!”

    I certainly hope so!

  14. Pray Hard
    Posted December 21, 2018 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    My favorite “Christian fish” is the one with an udder and says “Hindu” …

%d bloggers like this: