Tuesday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Yes, it’s Tuesday, December 25, 2018, the very first day of the six-day holiday of Coynezaa.  It’s also National Pumpkin Pie Day, which is meet and proper since everyone in the U.S. will eat it today, while in England they’re having mince pies, also meat and proper. Throughout the world, Christians are commemorating what they take to be the birth of Jesus, but we discussed that claim yesterday.

Google’s U.S. Christmas Doodle is animated, showing that the old rocking chair has got Mr. and Mrs. Santa:

And this is my Christmas Doodle (I didn’t draw it):

To put you in the mood, here’s a slightly dark Christmas ad contributed by Grania (Translation from Swedish: “This year we do everything to make Christmas less stressful. With us, you can solve all the Christmas adventures in one place. Visit http://www.clasohlson.se or welcome to our stores.”)

On this day in 336, according to Wikipedia, there was the “first documentary sign of Christmas celebration in Rome.” It was a big day for coronations of kings: to mention just two, Charlemagne was crowned Holy Roman Emperor on December 25, 800 (in Rome), while William the Conqueror was crowned king of England at Westminster Abbey in 1066.

On this day in 1758, Halley’s Comet was seen by Johann Georg Palitzsch, confirming Edmund Halley‘s prediction of its reapparance. That was the first time the appearance of a comet was predicted and then observed.  On Christmas Day, 1950, the Stone of Scone, on which British monarchs were crowned, was stolen from Westminster Abbey by Scottish nationalist students. It reappeared in Scotland in April of 1951.

On December 25, 1968, the Apollo 8 spacecraft—the first to orbit the moon with humans inside—left that orbit and headed back to Earth.  Finally, on this day in 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as President of the Soviet Union, and that Union was dissolved the very next day. Also on Christmas, Ukraine officially left the Soviet Union.

It was a big day for births; perhaps moms were holding back until Christmas. Notables born on this day include Jesus Christ (year 0, unattested), Isaac Newton (1642; Julian calendar; today is sometimes called “Newtonmas”), Clara Barton (1821), Helena Rubenstein (1870), Kid Ory (1886), Conrad Hilton (1887), Robert Ripley (1890), Humphrey Bogart (1899; today should be called “Bogartmas”), Cab Calloway (1907), Rod Serling (1924), Jimmy Buffett (1946), Sissy Spacek (1949, born on the first day of Coynezaa in the year I was born, so she’s five days older than I), Annie Lennox (1954), and Justin “Cultural Appropriation” Trudeau (1971).

Those who expired on Christmas Day include W. C. Fields (1946), Charlie Chaplin (1977), Elena and Nicolae Ceausescu (1989; executed), Dean Martin (1995), Birgit Nilsson (2005), Eartha Kitt (2008), and George Michael (2016).

In honor of Deano’s passing, here he is singing my favorite Dean Martin song. The woman in yellow, who also sings, is Shirley MacLaine, the recipient of the song/massage is Dorothy Malone, the movie is “Artists and Models” (1955), and the song was misspelled as “Innamorata” by its writers Harry Warren and Jack Brooks (the recorded version is here). (“Inamorata” is the Italian word for a female lover; the male equivalent is “inamorato”.) They don’t make movies like this any more: for one thing, it lacks affirmative consent.

You’ll recognize Martin’s partner, Jerry Lewis, towards the end.

What a voice Deano had!

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili uses body language and, according to Andrzej, her tail says, “I’m happy.”

A: What is your tail saying?
Hili: The same thing I say but in a different language.
In Polish:
Ja: Co mówi twój ogon?
Hili: To samo co ja, tylko innym językiem.

And in Wloclawek, Leon’s being a scrooge. After all, he has a Christmas mouse!

Leon:  I don’t understand why there’s so much ado about Christmas.

In Polish: Nie rozumiem o co tyle hałasu z tymi świętami.

A tweet from reader gravelinspector:

Tweets from Grania. She insists (and I concur) that you should look at the whole thread following this first one:

Doesn’t this seem unnecessarily complicated? It looks like one of those “dipping birds.” But I guess it’s a near-optimal design because it hasn’t changed in centuries.

More crazy hailstones from Sydney, Australia:

A Jebus-themed Christmas card; very clever but still . . . Jebus:

Grania says, “This is awesome”, and it surely is. It has over 100,000 retweets!

Tweets from Matthew. He’s being a grumpy Scrooge at Christmas!

We had Earthrise because of an orbiting spacecraft, not because the moon rotates.

Very proper skating in London during the Great War:

Much ado about nothing:

Someone’s Christmas was less than perfect:


  1. Serendipitydawg
    Posted December 25, 2018 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    That looks like a standard roller-notch piano action, as used on grand pianos (my own has the same made by Schwander, allegedly the best and I cannot disagree – way better than Steinway, despite its ease of setting).

    Upright action is even worse, though it has also been much refined over the years (also much improved since low dampers replaced highg dampers).

    Happy Coynezaa. Prosecco is currently toasting your health.

    • enl
      Posted December 25, 2018 at 6:59 am | Permalink

      And for all of the apparent complexity, it does a wonderfully efficient job synchronizing and sequencing several events while giving appropriate feel and feedback needed for the variety of expressions a good (or great) pianist plays.

      (I could go into mechanical impedance matching and transfer functions, but I won’t. I had a prof do that when I was in school, and I understand that it won’t interest y’all as much as it fascinated me)

      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted December 25, 2018 at 7:06 am | Permalink

        I didn’t go there, but you are absolutely correct. Also… it evolved to the current state of perfection! Admittedly, it was artificial selection, but still…

        All of the variants simply involve tweaks to make the technican’s job easier when balancing everything. Some though, Bentley in the UK for example, never got it right. When I bought a Bentley upright I made sure it had Renner action.

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted December 25, 2018 at 7:00 am | Permalink

      In case this ignites a Steinway make the best pianos… they don’t, they have really, really good PR.

      The best are made by Blüthner and I still regret never tightening my belt to buy one 😀

  2. Michael Fisher
    Posted December 25, 2018 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Here is the UK & Italy Google Doodle for Xmas Day – note the white Arctic Fox:

    • Merilee
      Posted December 25, 2018 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Very cute 🦊

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted December 25, 2018 at 9:26 am | Permalink

        You too 🙂

  3. Christopher
    Posted December 25, 2018 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Have all you godless sinners reconciled? (I thought that was the actual lyric until a minute ago)

    And I know why my cat follows me into the bathroom, it’s so he can demand fusses while I’m sitting on the crapper, or so he can play with the water dripping out of the faucet in the bathtub, then jump into the litter box with wet feet, leave gray footprints down the hall and track twice as much litter into my bed. Hairy Christmas everyone 😼and take it easy on the Makers Mark and eggnog.

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted December 25, 2018 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      Mine has his own towel… he is weird and likes to be wrapped up: when he come in wet from outside, he has his own cloth, cat for the drying of. George is the only cat I have ever encountered that purrs when totally wrapped (head and all).

    • Merilee
      Posted December 25, 2018 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      I have to check our main floor toilet when guests come around. Booker T likes to drink therefrom and leave little paw prints in the bowl, and occasionally littery prints on the seat.

      • W.Benson
        Posted December 25, 2018 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

        My 15-yr-old Tiger leaves more than paw prints in the shower stall, but she still has class enough to drink water from her dish (and from puddles on the patio when it rains).

  4. Michael Fisher
    Posted December 25, 2018 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    [1] OP:

    On this day in 1758, Halley’s Comet was seen by Johann Georg Palitzsch, confirming Edmund Halley‘s prediction of its reappearance. That was the first time the appearance of a comet was predicted and then observed.

    According to Wiki some scholars have proposed that first-century Mesopotamian astronomers already had recognized Halley’s Comet as periodic. This theory notes a passage in the Bavli Talmud that refers to “a star which appears once in seventy years that makes the captains of the ships err”

    Brodetsky, S. “Astronomy in the Babylonian Talmud”. Jewish Review. 1911: 60.

    [2] Malone/Martin: They’re the same height in the scene making Martin 5’6″ – he seems much taller or Malone has magically put high heels on. I half recall reading that actors walked around in mini trenches to boost Bogart’s apparent altitude. Might be rubbish in my head though.

  5. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted December 25, 2018 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    The orbit of the moon and its rotation are not exactly in sync, so the face you see of it actually rocks back and forth. This can be seen in a number of time lapse videos online, and it is pretty striking.
    So there should be locations on the moon where the earth is near the horizon, and there you would see the earth rise and set in monthly cycles.

  6. Claudia Baker
    Posted December 25, 2018 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Happy christmas everyone!

    Having a cup of tea and a quiet moment here before all hell breaks loose.

    We will be having mince pies and also traditional English plum pudding after dinner. The plum pudding is my favourite part of x-mas.

    A big thanks to Jerry for all he does on this site throughout the year!

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 25, 2018 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      … and flaming brandy?

      • David Coxill
        Posted December 25, 2018 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        And a Bloody Mary .

        • Claudia Baker
          Posted December 27, 2018 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

          Yes, Michael Fisher, flaming brandy indeed! It’s such a lovely way to end x-mas dinner. And, if made right, the pudding is so scrumptious, at least to my palate. It has to be dark, moist and chock full of fruit. Some people in the family like to pour a lemon sauce (home made, of course) on their slice, but I like mine straight up!

          After that, we play games, like “Tippet”, an old family tradition.

  7. Posted December 25, 2018 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Merry Christmas all.

    My pre-lit LED Christmas tree died this morning. Of all mornings. Is it a sign!

  8. Posted December 25, 2018 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    I liked the cable-like Christmas card.

  9. Posted December 25, 2018 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Hey Festivus!

    “Have you done it while vegan?” This gives me pause. Surely is food for taut.

    Made soft tacos with fish, veggies and herbs for brunch. Later gonna cook up some oxtail and butter beans in my trusty Instant Pot.

  10. Posted December 25, 2018 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    I love the hairy dog cartoon by Sara’s daughter. It also brought to mind the documentary on PBS about the orangutan, Chantek, The Ape Who Went to College, who learned sign language. It’s a very poignant story, and at the end when he’s re-introduced to his kind, he’s asked what he thought they were. He signed, “red dogs”!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 25, 2018 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      So that indicates he had a very human-like facility for classifying things according to their nearest equivalent that we had words for.

      (The same way we have guinea pigs and hedgehogs for example).


  11. Jenny Haniver
    Posted December 25, 2018 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Hili’s tail is speaking a different language because it’s turned into a snake, perhaps a gray rat snake.

  12. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted December 25, 2018 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    A Good Yule, from Sweden the day after our own big event of “Yule-evening”!

    And thanks goes to Grania for the Swedish PR. I read the video site text just a bit more Scandinavian and so inevitably even darker:

    “This year we do everything to make Yule less stressful. With us, you can solve all the Yule chores in one place. Visit http://www.clasohlson.se or welcome to our stores.”

    The solution of course is to relax. I read the statistics show that the famous “alarm pause” during the Disney television show when almost no accidents seem to be phoned in was less perceptible this year – Sweden is diversifying and normalizing.

  13. Sixtus
    Posted December 25, 2018 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    As far as I understand it, Jesus was not born in 0AD as there was no such year. The dating system goes from 1BC directly to 1AD.

    The action behind a piano key needs such complexity due to musical requirements, specifically the necessity to play rapidly repeated notes without a complete “reset” of the mechanism. The evolution of modern “escapements” took about a century. Lot’s of mutations along the way.

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted December 25, 2018 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      Even better: on most of the TV programmes that I have seen in recent years, scholars seem to date JC’s (not PCCe, behave) birth to between 7 BCE and 4 BCE. Truly miraculous, assuming it even happened 😀

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 25, 2018 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      (I have NO expert knowledge of pianos but – )

      The requirements for the piano key mechanism are quite complex. The ‘hammer’ needs to be ‘thrown’ at the string with a velocity loosely proportional to the force with which the key is struck, BUT the propelling force has to be uncoupled from the hammer before it hits the string (otherwise the string vibration would be immediately damped).

      Then the string has to be damped when the key is released, but not before (I think the ‘loud’ pedal holds up and inhibits that mechanism, though this isn’t shown. IIRC, the ‘soft’ pedal avoids further complicating this mechanism by simply raising its own entirely separate damping bar, also not shown).

      The rest is refinements –

      When the ‘hammer’ drops back down it hits a couple of damping pads which both soften the noise and damp out any bounces, making it settle quicker ready for the next note.

      And all contact surfaces have little red cushions to prevent clicking noises.

      Most stringed instruments are plucked. I think the piano may be an exception in that respect since the keys are struck. I suspect this may give the piano greater speed and responsiveness, but it does result in the mechanical complications.


      • Diane G
        Posted December 26, 2018 at 3:12 am | Permalink

        Most interesting, thank you for that!

  14. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted December 25, 2018 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    That PETA ad was a bit weird but so what. All PETA did was take ‘sex sells’ to its logical conclusion. I did follow the link – all those Tw*tterers getting their tits in a tangle over it. I didn’t believe the ad but then 99% of ads are pure BS anyway, if we all went off over every stupid ad World War 3 would be happening already.

    But I have to admit it got my attention…


  15. rickflick
    Posted December 25, 2018 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    I the Martin/Malone clip, just as they are kissing a couple of doves in the cage behind them start getting it on(4:37). Nice touch. The earliest common ancestor for kissing must predate the Jurassic.

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

    To be precise (or pedantic), the correct italian orthography is innamorata/innamorato (with two ns): the “a” ending is for a female, the “o” for a male. Plurals are respectively innamorate(f)/innamorati(m).
    The meaning is not exactly “lover” but “one who’s in love (with someone)”. The world “lover” instead is translated as “amante” (i.e. latin lover = amante latino).
    I wish you all a merry Coynezaa.
    And a happy New Year.

  17. Posted December 29, 2018 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    By the way, I love Dorothy Malone, especially when she wears glasses, like in this scene or playing the brunette bookstore clerk in The Big Sleep. RIP.

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