Friday: Hili dialogue

We’re coming up on Christmas, as today is Friday, December 21, 2018—only 4 shopping days left until Coynezaa. It’s National Hamburger Day (I’m having leftover Chinese food) as well as São Tomé Day, a holiday on the island where I used to study Drosophila.

Most important, it’s the first day of winter (it officially begins at 5:23 p.m.) and the shortest day of the year. Google has an animated winter Doodle:

On this day in 1620, the Pilgrims who sailed on the ship Mayflower under the leadership of William Bradford, landed at Plymouth Rock in what is now Massachusetts. On December 21, 1872, the famous Challenger expedition, marking the birth of oceanography, sailed from Portsmouth, England on the HMS Challenger, commanded by Captain George Nares. On this day in 1879, Ibsen’s A Doll’s House premiered at the Royal Theater in Copenhagen.

On December 21, 1913, the world’s first crossword puzzle, Arthur Wynne’s “word-cross puzzle” was published in the New York World. Here it is; can you solve it? It’s pretty easy, especially if you do the NYT Sunday puzzle.

On December 21, 1937, the world’s first full-length animation, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, premiered at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles. Now try to name the seven dwarfs—there are two that people always forget. Exactly three decades later, the first recipient of a human to human heart transplant, Louis Washkansky, died in Cape Town, South Africa, only 18 days after the transplant.  On this day in 1968, the Apollo 8, carrying a crew of three, flew to the Moon, orbited it, and returned safely to Earth. It was a dress rehearsal for the Apollo 11 that landed on the Moon in 1969.  Finally, it was on December 21, 1988 that a bomb exploded on Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people: the deadliest air disaster on British soil.

There must have been a lot of copulation in late April, as many notables were born on this day. They include Benedict Arnold (1615), Jack Russell (1795; yes, the dog breed was named after him), Benjamin Disraeli (1804), Maud Gonne (1866), two famous geneticists—Sewall Wright in 1889 and Hermann Joseph Muller in 1890—Rebecca West (1892), Anthony Powell (1905; I couldn’t finish his big series of novels), Heinrich Böll (1917; Nobel Laureate), Paul Winchell (1922), Phil Donahue (1935), Jane Fonda (1937), Frank Zappa (1940), Samuel L. Jackson (1948), Chris Evert (1954), Florence Griffith Joyner (1959), and Julie Delpy (1969).

I knew of Maud Gonne as an actress and women’s rights activist, but especially as the woman with whom Yeats was smitten. He proposed to her four times, and was turned down each time; and he wrote many poems inspired by her. Yet until today I didn’t know what she looked like, so I found some photos:

Gonne and Yeats:

She lived until 1953.

Those who expired on this day include F. Scott Fitzgerald (1940, he was only 44), George S. Patton (1945), and Nikolaas Tinbergen (1988; Nobel Laureate).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the Hili dialogue is enigmatic because the mice are safer from predation under the snow. Who knows what this Polish/Jewish cat is thinking?

Cyrus: There will be a White Christmas.
Hili: I don’t know whether the mice will be happy about it.
In Polish:
Cyrus: Będzie białe Boże Narodzenie.
Hili: Nie wiem, czy myszy się ucieszą.

Here are Calvin and Hobbes discussing atheism. There are a lot of Santa/God comparisons going around these days.

Two funnies from reader Merilee (Diana MacPherson objects to the orientation of the rolls):

A groaner:

Tweets from Heather Hastie, sent to her by Ann German. Some great cat photos in the first one: look at the smiling dude at upper right!

Salacious but funny:

From reader Blue: a cat that likes to reset the clock.

Tweets from Matthew. The first one is amazing, and links to an Anolis blog post that contains the video I present below the tweet. A reptile that encases its body in a bubble so it can breathe underwater! I’ll be!

Stop what you’re doing and watch the video immediately.

The video:

Matthew: “All lines are parallel and at right angles.” It sure doesn’t look like it, but Dr. Cobb is always right.

Words we use that come from Arabic:

Tweets from Grania.  Now this is some weird cat behavior: stalking followed by an affectionate approach:

Boxing hares!

And look at this hail that fell on Sydney:

Finally, more words of outrage from the super-woke Titania McGrath:

 

36 Comments

  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 21, 2018 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Got a typo re Apollo 8; it was ’68.

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted December 21, 2018 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    “Stop what you’re doing and watch the video immediately.”

    Yes! This was s hit!

    • davidintoronto
      Posted December 21, 2018 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      The cute little guy is definitely blowing a bubble. But inasmuch as this comes from exhalation, how does it function as an extra reservoir of air, which might increase bottom time? Seems like it’d be the same amount of air – with or without the bubble.

      • darrelle
        Posted December 21, 2018 at 8:52 am | Permalink

        I think that its entire body is encased in a layer of air. A bubble that is form fitted to its body due to the hydrophobic scales and the pressure of the water. If you look closely you can see an iridescence or shimmer of sorts on various parts of the body that indicate air trapped against the body. When it exhales it causes a momentary local bulge in the form fitting body-bubble.

      • Posted December 21, 2018 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        It has slow metabolism, so the recycled air will suffice for some time.

        • Torbjörn Larsson
          Posted December 21, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

          Yes, a diver mimic suit wouldn’t really do the trick. But, evolution!

  3. Peter
    Posted December 21, 2018 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    When I focus, I see a tilted square in the middel. When I don’t focus (take my glasses off) , I see parallel lines. The tricks of the visual system are endless!

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted December 21, 2018 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      I still see the tilted area without glasses, but then squinting at it made the pattern straighten out.

  4. Christopher
    Posted December 21, 2018 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    I must admit that this “first day of winter” stuff is a major pet peeve of mine. The differences between Astronomical winter and Meteorological winter are important to note. It’s not as if “Mother Nature “ flips a switch and it’s suddenly winter, which is why it gets colder sooner in Toronto than in Little Rock. But, since nobody understands the distinction, we get statements like “I can’t believe it’s snowing, and it’s not even winter for a few more weeks “ from people who’ve never bothered to question this.
    I wonder, is this primarily an American thing, or do people in countries with better basic science education make the same boneheaded statements?

    • rickflick
      Posted December 21, 2018 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      I agree. This suggests remedial training. Perhaps with coloring books.

      • Christopher
        Posted December 21, 2018 at 9:14 am | Permalink

        We could model the earth going around the sun with play-doh as well.

        • rickflick
          Posted December 21, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

          Play Doh? There would be the risk they’d try to flatten it. 😎

    • Posted December 21, 2018 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Yes! Not that it will snow in Lunnon… & in Britain we are more likely to get snow in April than December.

      • Posted December 21, 2018 at 8:59 am | Permalink

        PS Maud Gonne’s bird hat is illustrative of the hideous massacre of birds that took place in the later 19th century to feed women’s fashions especially with hats. The RSPB was founded partly as a result of attempts to combat that trade.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted December 21, 2018 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      It is Northern hemispherist! We have the longest day today, and the start of (astronomical) summer.

  5. Posted December 21, 2018 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Benedict Arnold, born this day in 1615, is the great-grandfather of the Benedict Arnold you’re thinking of. The one we know was born in 1741.

  6. Deodand
    Posted December 21, 2018 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Is that last person quoted (TitaniaMcGrath) for real?

    • Zaphod
      Posted December 21, 2018 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      No.

    • darrelle
      Posted December 21, 2018 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      Satire.

    • Posted December 21, 2018 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      It may be satire but it’s not funny. It’s way too close to the mark.

  7. Outlier
    Posted December 21, 2018 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Happy Natuonal Flashlight Day!

  8. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted December 21, 2018 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Any ideas how that tilted square illusion works?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 21, 2018 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      Yup. The eye tends to try to ‘straighten out’ or simplify lines and shapes, so the little ‘ears’ each end of the top edge of each square appear to make that edge tilt (same for the sides and bottom).

      cr

  9. Posted December 21, 2018 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t know about Maud Gonne. She has been a remarkable woman.

  10. David Coxill
    Posted December 21, 2018 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    F. Scott Fitzgerald ,Otherwise known as the prisoner of Zelda .

  11. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted December 21, 2018 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    I can empathise with Yeats. That Maud Gonne is hot! 😎

    cr

  12. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted December 21, 2018 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    And look at this hail that fell on Sydney

    I’m guessing the hail grew rapidly (depositing white, aerated ice) on the way down through the cloud, but deposited the clearer seemingly darker ice layer high in the cloud. So multiple ups and downs in the cloud.

    Anyone with more practical interest in mega-hail who can read the history of these stones better than me?

  13. bPer
    Posted December 21, 2018 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    On this day in 1968, the Apollo 8, carrying a crew of three, flew to the Moon, orbited it, and returned safely to Earth. It was a dress rehearsal for the Apollo 11 that landed on the Moon in 1969.

    This is the 50th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 8. It took three days to travel to the Moon, orbited for less than a day, and flew back home, landing on December 27th.

    Arguably, Apollo 10 was the dress rehearsal for Apollo 11, since it included all phases of the moon landing except the actual landing, EVA and ascent from the Moon.

    Apollo 8 was more of a further shakedown of the Command-Service Module (after Apollo 7), a flight test of the S-IVB third stage of the Saturn V, a test of the process of getting to the Moon and back, and close reconnaissance of the upcoming landing sites.

    βPer

    • rickflick
      Posted December 21, 2018 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

      The complexity of the undertaking is astonishing. Especially considering the primitive state of the technology. That flight and those that followed I consider a highlight of my life.

      • bPer
        Posted December 22, 2018 at 9:04 am | Permalink

        I agree. Aside from Apollo 11, this was the flight that made the most impression on me. It marked the first time mankind left the confines of Earth orbit, and it was Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders who took the famous photo “Earthrise”, which changed our perspective of our home in the Universe.

        βPer

  14. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted December 22, 2018 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    And who could forget one of many stories of creation when read by astronauts:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_8_Genesis_reading

    • rickflick
      Posted December 22, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      I would have greatly preferred something secular such as The final paragraph of On the Origin of the the Species.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=St5kCDsxFns

      Actually, I remember when the crew of Apollo 8 read from Genesis it seemed rather ludicrous to me. Here we were, Homo sapiens, the wise ape, in the 20th century, having arrived at the moon, reading from ancient myths. How incongruous.


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