Sunday: Hili dialogue

It’s Sunday, January 6, 2019, and National Shortbread Day, as well as the Twelfth Day of Christmas, traditionally celebrating the Epiphany, the day when the wise men visited Baby Jesus and celebrated “Jesus’s physical manifestation [as the son of God] to the Gentiles.” On a secular note, it’s time to take down the Christmas tree. One year my mother, aiming to set a record, left the tree up until May, at which point all the needles were dry and dropped off when I tried to move it to the trash. It took me hours to vacuum up, and then pick up by hand, all the fallen needles.

On this day in 1540, Henry VIII married Anne of Cleves, his fourth wife. She was queen for six months, but the marriage was annulled because it was unconsummated. She was not beheaded, and outlived Henry by ten years. On this date in 1907, Maria Montessori opened her first school in Rome, but I know nothing about these schools except that there are over 22,000 of them on the planet. Presumably at least one reader will have attended one.

On January 6, 1912, the German geologist Alfred Wegener first broached his theory of continental drift. For many years, even into my own lifetime, his idea was poo-pooed by scientists, but he turned out to be right. In 1929, Mother Teresa arrived in Calcutta to begin her missionary work, which involved converting sick Indians to Catholicism before they died.

On this day in 1941, Franklin Roosevelt delivered his renowned “Four Freedoms” speech to the U.S. Congress; I show an excerpt below.

The freedoms were later the subject of four famous illustrations by Norman Rockwell.  Here’s a familiar figure, photographed in 2012, standing by the “Freedom of Expression” painting at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Finally, on a day date that will live in infamy, it was on January 6, 2017, that the U.S. Congress certified Donald Trump as the winner of the 2016 Presidential election. I still predict that he’ll be impeached by the Democratic House of Representatives, but acquitted by the Senate. I was appalled yesterday when Trump, asked about Representative Rashida Tlabi’s claim that the House was going “to impeach the motherfucker”, said something like “Why would you impeach someone who’s doing a great job?” Tlaib’s words were out of line, but there is no construal of Trump that would consider him doing a “great job.”

Notables born on this day include Joan of Arc (1412), Gustave Doré (1832), Carl Sandburg (1878), Sam Rayburn (1882), Loretta Young (1913), geneticist John Maynard Smith (1920), Earl Scruggs (1924), E. L. Doctorow (1931), and  Justin Welby (1956).

Those who expired on January 6 include Louis Braille (1852), Gregor Mendel (1994), Georg Cantor (1918), Dizzy Gillespie and Rudolf Nureyev (both 1993), and Lou Rawls (2006).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn:

Hili: Do you believe in ghosts?
A: No.
Hili: I don’t think I do either.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy wierzysz w duchy?
Ja: Nie.
Hili: Ja chyba też nie.

A tweet from reader Gethyn (also found by Grania and Matthew):

Tweets from Matthew; the first showing four generations of a Chinese family:

I had no idea that weevils did anything like this. But hey, the currency of natural selection is offspring number:

Some of you will have heard of the enigmatic fossil Spriggina, but did you know its modern equivalent?

Why aren’t wombats as popular as pandas?

Tweets from Grania; here’s Trump’s latest bit of bogus braggadocio:

Lovely details of Jupiter taken by NASA’s Juno Mission:

Here’s a stunning video of Jupiter, from Cassini, made by using still images:

A vintage ad with a cat, but why is the frog on a ladder. What are they advertising?

I believe I’ve posted this lovely video before, in which a kindly man helps a juvenile robin find worms, but it’s always worth seeing again:



  1. SRM
    Posted January 6, 2019 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Gregor Mendel must have had good genes.

    • W.Benson
      Posted January 6, 2019 at 7:07 am | Permalink

      The best!

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted January 6, 2019 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      He managed to avoid all the skinny-fit and stone washed, pre-distressed fashion items, at least.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 6, 2019 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Fortunate that Xmas tree did not burn the house down.

    For all the school teachers out there – Trump gave himself an A+ on the first two years. But who else but himself could grade him. I’m thinking if he was graded on the curve he would get an F-

  3. Michael Fisher
    Posted January 6, 2019 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World

    • BJ
      Posted January 6, 2019 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      My absolute favorite film about battle on the high seas! What an absolute marvel. Have you seen the documentary on the making of it? Peter Weir is brilliant.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted January 6, 2019 at 11:39 am | Permalink

        I haven’t, but I’ll look for it now thanks. I’ve read all the O’Brian books & I’m impressed by the adaptation – a successful, difficult squeeze into a single film length.

        For me it is in the top three along with Das Boot [the series] & The Cruel Sea.

        The best maritime adventure [no battle on the high seas that I recall though] is the classic Muppet Treasure Island – it will never be equalled!

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted January 6, 2019 at 11:46 am | Permalink

          What is it with the Muppets? Muppet Christmas Carol awesome interpretation of a classic (and I have seen them all, even Ebbie and the weird Japanese manga version).

      • rickflick
        Posted January 6, 2019 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        I just watched the documentary and it is amazing. The length the Weir and the entire cast and crew go to to produce an authentic taste of the past is extraordinary. I’ll just have to re-watch the result of all that effort with a larger appreciation.

        • BJ
          Posted January 6, 2019 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

          You can really see Weir’s passion for the film and dedication to its realism and as much use of physical props and environments as possible. The film is just fantastic — among my favorites — but it’s one of those films that, if it was made by anyone else in any other way, would likely be just another mediocre memory.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 6, 2019 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

        I saw Russell Crowe a couple weeks ago in Boy Erased. He put on quite a bit of weight, presumably for the role. He looked kinda like a younger John Goodman — or like Russell Crowe had eaten a whole nother Russell Crowe. 🙂

        Nicole Kidman plays his wife. What’s with all these Aussies, anyway, always playing US Americans better than US Americans play US Americans?

        Good movie, though, directed by, and co-starring another Aussie playing an American, Joel Edgerton.

        • BJ
          Posted January 6, 2019 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

          I enjoyed Edgerton’s direction in his first effort, The Gift.

          The Aussies playing Americans seem to be taking doing as actors from the UK have for the last few years, stealing roles from good, hard-working Americans 😛 It seems like at least half of the prestige films these days that involve American characters have them played by Brits. I think this is a serious diversity issue!

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted January 6, 2019 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

            The field is wide open for foreign, cheap actors happy to chance their arm in an indy film. Some of them break big & they usually have a great work ethic [gratitude].

            The field is open because Hollywood producers are obsessed with BIG NAMES that even Earl from redneckville will recognise

            Too many North American BIG NAME [not necessarily good actors, just household name crowd pulling actors] are on first call to star in lowbrow films that are designed to hit the cinemas at peak periods. Then there’s the ones buried in The Bourne xyz, yet another feckin Hobbit film, Marvel Comics & etc franchises.

            Count the number of shit films over the years with these below people in – while they’re tied up destroying their profession some noob from Britland or the Antipodes sneaks in & does the business:

            The fat dwarf from Taxi, Bruce Willis, Michael Fassbender, Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, Johnny Depp, Mark Wahlberg, Adam Sandler, Al Pacino, Bob De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence, Matt Damon [Suburbicon!], Jack Nicholson, Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, Bruce Willis, Ray Liotta, Anne Archer, John Travolta, Forest Whitaker, Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, Mickey Rourke, Billy Bob Thornton, Billy Zane, Ban Affleck, Christopher Walken, Jon Voight, Bruce Willis, Sean Penn, Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Ben Stiller – these people are always ready for a fat cheque to appear in some shite movie & promote it on the talk show circuit.

            I hope those names are all North American – I haven’t checked. Did I mention Bruce Willis?

            • BJ
              Posted January 6, 2019 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

              Actually, the greatest British actors are also often known for their willingness to take any role because they see acting as just another job. From Michael Caine to Patrick Stewart.

              I’m not going to go through your whole list, but several of those actors are definitely not known for being willing to take just any job for a paycheck. And Fassbender is not North American; he was born in Germany and raised in Ireland.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted January 6, 2019 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

                Fassbender – OK thanks

                I didn’t claim it was just North American actors – I’m saying that large numbers of BIG NAMES are tied up for a few seasons ahead on projects of little worth that are built around them – crowd pullers expected to make large dollars. Too many are drawn from the North American pool of talent which gives the RoW an open door on some tasty non-formulaic morsels that have more risk attached & smaller budgets.

              • Serendipitydawg
                Posted January 6, 2019 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

                Michael Caine famously took anything. In the UK over xmas there were a couple of programmes that featured him, including one that showed the clip from The Hand where his hand gets chopped off… as he said, a job’s a job and you never know when they will stop asking. If you look at some of the films he was in before and after 1981 when this piece of schlock was made, there were some absolute crackers in there.

                There was also a screening of an acting masterclass that was filmed that I remember seeing more or less around the time it was made. It was interesting to watch again to see the students who are now all well known in their own right, though I hadn’t a clue who they were at the time.

              • BJ
                Posted January 6, 2019 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

                @ Michael

                It’s an interesting theory, but it seems to me more like Hollywood producers think British actors are somehow more “prestigious.”

                @ Serendipitydawg

                Here’s Michael Caine on his role in Jaws 4:

                “I’ve never seen it,” Sir Michael, 83, said on ITV’s The Jonathan Ross Show.

                “Somebody said, ‘Have you ever seen Jaws 4?’ I said, ‘No. But I’ve seen the house it bought for my mum. It’s fantastic!'”

              • Richard
                Posted January 7, 2019 at 2:39 am | Permalink

                “When you have a very high standard of living, you sometimes have to make a very low standard of film.”. Michael Caine

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted January 6, 2019 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

            Hypothesis: Another factor is the high number of North American BIG NAME actors with loony, cultish ideas: Anne Archer, Travolta, Cruise come to mind right away, but there’s something about the singing & acting profession that attracts or creates loons – empty headed Hollywood/LA makes the disease worse.

            • BJ
              Posted January 6, 2019 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

              I doubt this has anything to do with it. People far and wide have raved about how hard Tom Cruise works and how friendly he is on set. He is, apparently, one of the easiest people to work with in Hollywood, and he also chooses his scripts carefully. One or two bombs does not warrant inclusion for your list (which, it seems, is what several actors on your list were included for), and most of the Brits that have come over have plenty of bombs themselves. Then you have someone like Sandler, who is basically a genre actor and has created his own streamlined production, where he gets paid for writing, acting, producing, and can bring his friends in for paychecks as well, so he’s a completely different animal from all the others.

              • Serendipitydawg
                Posted January 6, 2019 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

                Agreed. I am not a Sandler fan (more his genre, rather than his acting) but I do like Cruise. Not a big fan of Mission Impossible/Jack Reacher genre but Knight and Day showcased his humerous side and Oblivion/Minority Report certainly showed he can do sci-fi without it descending into farce.

              • BJ
                Posted January 6, 2019 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

                When Cruise works within his limitations, he can be great. I personally prefer the cocky Cruise of films like The Color of Money and the charismatic Cruise of many others. But he’s a great action star, and he knows how to pick roles that suit him. He screwed up big with The Mummy, but the hope there was clearly that it was the beginning of a franchise/cinematic universe (though how Universal didn’t understand that they couldn’t make a cinematic universe out of a bunch of monsters in movies from the 30’s that most people haven’t even seen is truly baffling to me).

    • Posted January 6, 2019 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      I was quite upset that it didn’t do well enough at the box office to justify a sequel.

  4. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 6, 2019 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    There is one scientific paper I know of on the Montessori franchise :

    The conclusion was that, for inner-city types of schools, something about what Montessori-franchised schools did was correlated with improved student skills. I forgot the details – I might take another look…

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted January 6, 2019 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      Looks like a paywall.

      • Caldwell
        Posted January 6, 2019 at 8:48 am | Permalink

        One can often find a blocked paper by searching for the title, so here it is.

        Two fascinating aspects of education studies are the obfuscation of information and irreproducibility.

        In the case of this paper, they don’t reveal which school they studied (only one, very few kids), just that is was a Montessori school in Milwaukee. Well, you can get a list of those schools, look them up on “” and verify that they’re mostly worse than average, sometimes a lot worse.

        To cut the suspense, there are 8 Montessori schools in Milwaukee, and the first one in the list scored a 1/10 on academics, the worst score you can get. The others are an exercise left to the reader.

        Hint: “school performance” is almost totally dependent on, and can be predicted by, the racial makeup of the school.

        • SecMilChap
          Posted January 6, 2019 at 9:52 am | Permalink

          Golly! It’s been 50 years, but I remember our kids as having grand times and good results from Willowbrook Montessori in Adelphi MD (MetroDC). Mme Montessori based her methods on “time out” instead of spanking, and kids learned impulse control. Both of our kids started at age 3. Daughter learned to read, but Son was ADHD, and gained most benefits in impulse control and learning tasks right- handed. Many ADHD kids don’t have a dominant hemisphere (me; my Dad). Son was sent to college for HS senior year. Daughter was accepted as a Sophomore at Northwestern. Both have successful careers and good portfolios (their own money, not inherited). Montessori was a superb start in life for them, but the school they were in adhered closely to Mme Montessori’s methods, developed to educate unparented street orphans.

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted January 6, 2019 at 10:16 am | Permalink

          The thing I don’t understand is this :

          What is so special about these methods – which include e.g. using 100% wooden toys – that they have been unchanged – to my knowledge- since Mrs. Montessori published them? And how are they so different from what other schools do? What prevents other schools from using methods like Montessori proposed, e.g. using 100% wooden toys?

          I think early education is a complex endeavor. Can’t we expect that new insights, improvements, and research have been done, peer-reviewed, and published since the origins of Mrs. Montessori’s work? If we pick at random a video of Steven Pinker working with children, we’d be impressed.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted January 6, 2019 at 11:09 am | Permalink

            The info below is from those friends of mine who are reasonably wealthy & also parents of young kids – they love the idea of Montessori because it’s a brand they trust, but also they like other similar ‘traditional’ schools with fixed values. Kids from rich families get a better edu than average – better teachers, facilities & pupils.

            The Montessori schools in my area [West Midlands inc. Birmingham city]: they are highly desired – no difficulty at all filling their places & waiting lists are long.

            BUT we are talking around £14k/yr for the full time deal at say “little learners” – although I think local government will cough up around 25% of that fee for kiddos under 5 or 6 [I’m estimating here from memory of chats with parents].

            The attractions are obvious – but bear in mind I’m reporting second hand. Parents will do almost anything to avoid ‘bad schools’ for their kids – they’ll move house, they’ll become Jewish or Catholic – whatever it takes to get little Timothy & Eugenie a ‘proper’ education:

            ** Paying school & thus better behaved kids with parents who have an interest in education

            ** Small class sizes

            ** Very well trained teachers who have more to them than 4 yrs at ‘teacher training college’ – colleges where educational theories used to change like the wind & there’s all sorts of politics going on relating to how to mould children’s attitudes & beliefs [‘modern’ teaching methods went through a bad patch in the 70s/80s – I have no idea what the average state school is like now, but couldn’t be worse then back then – maybe it’s a lot better today]

            ** Well known teaching methods – NO teaching by rote, formal ‘scientific’ style edu doesn’t kick in until around 11?? years old, before then it’s structured, but no nonsense with chanting the times table.

            ** Bullying & class disruption ain’t a thing [is the perception at least]

            Montessori schools in my area are evaluated by some national Montessori body & they get certified. I think there are schools run by Montessori teachers who are outside that umbrella though.

            I don’t know if there’s Montessori schools inside the state system in the UK.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted January 6, 2019 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

              “** Paying school & thus better behaved kids with parents who have an interest in education”

              I think you picked it out. The kids who go to those schools are a preselected sample of mostly upper-middle-class kids with motivated and educated parents who take a keen interest in their kids’ education.

              What would one expect the results to be, academically?


    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted January 6, 2019 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      I would like to add two things :

      1. I used the term “franchise” because that’s what it looks like to me, the way Subway sandwich shops look like franchises.

      2. I found this on Wikipedia:

      “In 1967, the US Patent Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled that “the term ‘Montessori’ has a generic and/or descriptive significance.”[31] Therefore, in the United States and most other countries, the term can be used freely without giving any guarantee of how closely, if at all, a program applies Montessori’s work. The ruling has led to “tremendous variation in schools claiming to use Maria Montessori’s methods.”[32]”

      (See Wikipedia for sources for this quote)

      • BJ
        Posted January 6, 2019 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        Paging Ken Kukec. This seems like an absurd ruling, considering so many other phrases, words, and names that have been trademarked. Why would they reject giving a trademark to “Montessori,” at least when it’s related to the naming of a school?

        • BJ
          Posted January 6, 2019 at 10:35 am | Permalink

          Then again, it was 1967, and things at the Patent Office have changed considerably since then. I don’t know what it was like back in 1967. And, since that ruling has been around for so long, if the decades have created a situation where “Montessori” doesn’t actually provide any description regarding a school, I can see why the office would reject another attempt to trademark it now. At this point, it might be like “Aspirin.”

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted January 6, 2019 at 11:12 am | Permalink

          I may well be wrong on this, but under US law, doen’t a trademark have to be actively protected (i.e. infringing users sued against) for the trademark to remain a trademark, instead of retreating into being a regular word. And if the “Montessori” brand had fallen out of protection once, then that’s “game over” for the trademark. No?
          It comes up quite often in the computing nerd bits of the internet, where people are trying to take a generic term and turn it into a company/ product/ program name.

          • BJ
            Posted January 6, 2019 at 11:21 am | Permalink

            Yes, you’re right about that rule, to applying again may also be futile for that reason. But I’m far from an expert.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted January 6, 2019 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      My immediate reaction was that it is a pseudoscience franchise that started out at the time similar franchises with the “science” catchphrase were popular (“biblical science”, “anthroposophy” et cetera). The little science studies I can find – including nothing from Montessori herself – may confirm that despite painting a more positive picture:

      – The Lilliard & Else-Quest 2006 review got a lot of criticism [ ].
      – The Marschall 2017 review is not encouraging: ” This paper has discussed evidence that children may benefit cognitively and socially from Montessori education that is faithful to its creator’s principles, but it is less clear that adapted forms—which usually result in children spending less time engaged with self-chosen learning materials—are as effective. … In sum, there are many methodological challenges to carrying out good quality educational research, including good quality research on the Montessori method.” [ ].

      Essentially I can see no immediate support for the idea that Montessori schools are better or “scientific”, nor that they have ever been satisfactorily evaluated scientifically.

      So, a false flag franchise?

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted January 6, 2019 at 10:35 am | Permalink


        My impression is that Montessori is a good school to go to. Nothing wrong with it, per se. Perhaps it just has better hours?

        The real problems come when deciding if it’s better, or – is it insinuating that it is best? It’s never clear, to me, especially when Jimmy Wales, and Larry Page, as previous students of certain Montessori schools, serve to promote something about Montessori.

      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted January 6, 2019 at 10:55 am | Permalink

        I always assumed they were just expensive day care with the resources to actually do interesting stuff. The only one I have ever seen, just outside Caistor, went up for sale some time ago, no idea what it is now…. Streetview hasn’t been by in a while 🙂

  5. Michael Fisher
    Posted January 6, 2019 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Those are beautiful treats for special occasions [weddings etc] – known as Gazelle Horns or Cornes de Gazelle [see pic below for why that name]: almond paste, orange flower water & cinnamon enclosed in a delicate pastry envelope, moulded into a crescent, patterned & quickly baked. They should be as thin as possible to bake rapidly & there’s lots of little holes to let moisture escape & prevent the pastry splitting. For reasons unknown to me if the pastry is dusted with sugar the name changes to Gazelle Ankles…


  6. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 6, 2019 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Trump is the kind of person who would make a big deal about answering two questions precisely correct – but only two questions- on an exam with 10 total questions, when the teacher gives him an F.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 6, 2019 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      Those questions being “what is your name” and “Today’s date is …” ?
      If, of curse, he’s got a watch with a date display.

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted January 6, 2019 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        Reminds me of Peter Cook’s monologue, as AL Wisty, about why he became a miner rather than a judge: “They only ask one question: ‘who are you?’, and I got 50% on that”.

  7. Serendipitydawg
    Posted January 6, 2019 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    (no Collusion with Russia, it was the Dems that Colluded)


    I suppose if you say something enough, you come to believe it.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted January 6, 2019 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      I just realized your ‘nym is supposed to evoke Deputy Dawg

      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted January 6, 2019 at 11:01 am | Permalink


        It was a pun. Many years ago, in a galaxy remarkably close to this one, a violin player placed her cardigan on my piano stool. The other violin player, an actual artist with paints and stuff, made a few magic passes with his hands and everyone saw a dog (there was a red tab that looked like a tongue).

        Sadly, the photograph shows a cardigan carelessly draped next to a glass ashtray with an annoyiing red tag, rather than a small dog taking a drink.

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted January 6, 2019 at 11:51 am | Permalink

          Sadly, the photograph shows a cardigan with an annoying red tag carelessly draped next to a glass ashtray, rather than a small dog taking a drink.

          Resolution for 2019: position the caret before adding ammendments…

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted January 6, 2019 at 11:55 am | Permalink

          I…. see…..

          • Serendipitydawg
            Posted January 6, 2019 at 11:58 am | Permalink

            Steps away looking as unthreatening as possible from the dishevilled lunatic…

            I said it was a pun!

          • Serendipitydawg
            Posted January 6, 2019 at 11:59 am | Permalink

            I should also say that I was ascribing the stepping away to you, in case you aren’t clear on my meaning 😀

            • ThyroidPlanet
              Posted January 6, 2019 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

              I’ll take that as a … compliment!

  8. rickflick
    Posted January 6, 2019 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    tRump: “[I am]…the most popular Republican in party history 93%?”

    Not exactly true(surprise!). Does he mean popular among Republicans?

    G.W. Bush: “…among Republicans and Americans holding conservative views, and for the 2004 election, 95–98% of the Republican electorate approved of and voted for Bush, a figure exceeding the approval of Ronald Reagan.”

  9. pablo
    Posted January 6, 2019 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Who’s the masked crime fighter who protects the dangerous streets of Perth? It’s Wombatman!

  10. David Coxill
    Posted January 6, 2019 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Any Brits out there remember Tinger and Tucker,and their side kick Wille Wombat?

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted January 6, 2019 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      More of the Hammy the Hamster vintage myself… gave me an unhealthy obession with balloons as transport.

      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted January 6, 2019 at 9:56 am | Permalink

        1960 ?!?!?! Blimey, I’m old!

      • Posted January 6, 2019 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        I can hear the opening music in my head, even now. It.. never… stops….

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted January 6, 2019 at 10:44 am | Permalink

          Well we can’t be alone, assuming the remakes used the same theme (and I am not going to check in case they wrote another one that will also stick).

      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted January 6, 2019 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

        Now I think of it, Hammy is to blame for the incident with the car battery. I was electrolysing water to get hydrogen for the balloon, since you can’t make helium…. well, chemically, and even I hadn’t considered β radiation.

  11. John Dentinger
    Posted January 6, 2019 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Changing the subject to Wegener, I recall my prof in Geology 101 dissing his idea–in 1965. His problem with Wegener was that there was no current evidence besides the shape of the continents to corroborate the idea. As far as was known then, it was simply voodoo, and my prof said so!

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted January 6, 2019 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      This is a tale that highlights the scientific method… strange coincidence of shape, interesting idea, subsequent evidence in the form of symmetric magnetic variation etc., hey everyone, plate techtonics. Wow, coool.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 6, 2019 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      They didn’t have evidence in 1965 for strata & fossils lining up across the ‘divides’? I’m thinking Newfoundland with Scotland, but many other examples.

      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted January 6, 2019 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        All pieces in the puzzle… 50s/60’s exploration of the sea floor was adding more and more evidence. By the time sea floor spreading was discovered, with the consequent symmetric magnetic stripes, it became a slam dunk. Of course, scientific intertia can be hard to overcome, Fred Hoyle springs to mind here.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 6, 2019 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      One part of Wegener’s problem was that his “pole flight” proposed mechanism was ludicrously under-powered for the tasks he was asking of it.
      By the 1930s, the South African Alexander DuToit had proposed a mantle convection mechanism with more credible forces. I think he also brought a lot of attention the geological similarities between South America and Africa, in answer to Michael Fisher’s point. But by that point (mid-1930s), Wegener’s theory had acquired a significant taint of the “crackpot” because of the implausible mechanism. There were people promoting it – Arthur Holmes, for example, but it was an uphill struggle until the development of maritime magnetic surveying as a side-effect of hunting for submarines.

      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted January 6, 2019 at 11:39 am | Permalink

        I am not disagreeing with the original comment: I think he kicked of something of factional war around the 20’s/30’s (? not sure)… however, he had an idea, admittedly with a discredited theoretical solution, and was ultimately proved correct.

        Howeve you bake it, it’s a triumph for science over mystic forces™ 😀

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted January 6, 2019 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

          Wegener first proposed his theory of Continental Drift in 1912, and rehashed it with the “Pole flight” force just after WW1.

          • Serendipitydawg
            Posted January 6, 2019 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

            I didn’t know that… I don’t know why, but I have always thought that it was around the turn of the 20th century. It would make sense being 1912, given the spats that went on through the 20s/30s (well, in my head at least; I am really going to have to look this up on t’internet, all my ‘knowledge’ goes back to a college book and it is all a bit vague now).

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted January 6, 2019 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        Oops, I missed your comment, but Du Toit was the man who clinched it indeed.

    • rickflick
      Posted January 6, 2019 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      Wikipedia says Wegener did more than just notice the jigsaw pattern in the continents.

      “He analyzed both sides of the Atlantic Ocean for rock type, geological structures and fossils. He noticed that there was a significant similarity between matching sides of the continents, especially in fossil plants.”

      He should not be denied credit for being a first rate scientist. Not so much voodoo.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted January 6, 2019 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      In the 1920’s and 30’s the South African geologist Alexander Logie Du Toit showed incontrovertibly that South America and Africa were once the same continent. His stratigraphy was extensive. He also proposed the Thetis sea and the continents of Laurasia and Gondwanaland (what we basically still accept now).
      Your prof geology 101 was at least 40 years behind the evidence.
      I think Du Toit is an unrecognised genius. He is, much more than Alfred Wegener, the father of plate tectonics.

      • rickflick
        Posted January 6, 2019 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        Wegener was primarily a climate scientist. His publication on the possibility of plate tectonics was an aside for him.

        • Nicolaas Stempels
          Posted January 6, 2019 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

          But an ‘aside’ that turned out to be correct.

  12. Larry Smith
    Posted January 6, 2019 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    In some circles, wombats are as popular as pandas. Thus my email handle, uommibatto, which is Italian for wombat (taken from a poem by Christina Rossetti).

    If you want to see short, almost-daily wombat videos, follow Jackie French on Twitter.

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted January 6, 2019 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      One day I am going to acquire one of the “Wombat Crossing” signs for my best friend… he has had the same fascination for 30 years that I am aware of, it may go back further. I think you can no longer use ‘wombat’ when you want to guess his password though.

  13. Kieran
    Posted January 6, 2019 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Short bread, they don’t make it any longer….I’ll get my coat

  14. Roo
    Posted January 6, 2019 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    It took me hours to vacuum up, and then pick up by hand, all the fallen needles.

    Whoa!! You were a really good kid. When my mom asked me to clean up so much as my room, it was hours of:

    Me: (Puts one toy away.) “Ok it’s clean!”

    Mom: “You’re staying in there until it’s clean.”

    Me: (about an hour later, puts another toy away) “Ok done!”

    Mom: “Keep going”

    Maybe due to the fact that I shared a room with my brother and we spent most of our time glaring at each other claiming we weren’t going to work until the other one worked, but still – hours picking up needles by hand?! I’m impressed by whatever child-rearing method resulted in that.

  15. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted January 6, 2019 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Mr Trump:
    – Won perhaps the greatest election of all time? We still think it was won by counting fraud, voter disenfranchisement, Russian interference, Mr Comey, Bernie or busters and Jill Steiners.
    – Done nothing wrong? Nixon: “I did nothing wrong”. There maybe no court quality evidence of ‘collusion’ yet, but there are truckloads of circumstantial evidence of conspiracy with a hostile foreign power, not to mention obstruction of Justice and emoluments.
    – he most successful first two years of any president? I think many would have an issue with that.
    However, Mr Trump, impeachment has nothing to do with ‘success’, it has to do with high crimes and the like.

    • Posted January 6, 2019 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      Trump win the election. It was as fair and legal as any presidential election. People voted for him and he won the electoral college and is the ligitimate president. Time to quit pouting and making excuses and move on. 2020 will be here before you know it.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted January 6, 2019 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

        The discrepancy between exit polls and actual count appear to say otherwise.

        • Posted January 7, 2019 at 7:57 am | Permalink

          That is always true in any election. I said as fair and legal as any other presidential election. And the discrepancies as far as I know were not enough to overturn the results in any state. Unlike what happened in Glorida in 2000 where they did change the election.

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