Friday: Hili dialogue

It’s Friday, January 11, 2019, and in one week I return to the mainland. It’s National Hot Toddy Day, a drink appropriate for Chicago but not here, as it’s a hot drink of whiskey, honey, water, and spices. In Pennsylvania it’s Sister Rosetta Tharpe Day, honoring a famous gospel singer whose rhythm-and-blues style led to her being called “the godmother of rock and roll.” You can see how songs like this one, “Rock Me”, would influence the beginning of rock:

Today’s Google Doodle, seen only in the U.S., celebrates the legendary bluegrass banjo player Earl Scruggs, it’s on January 11 not because Scruggs was born or died on that day (he was born on January 6, 1924, and died on March 28, 2012), but because the Earl Scruggs Center in Shelby, North Carolina, promoting Southern music, opened five years ago today.   The Doodle shows his three-finger style of banjo picking that’s become standard for bluegrass music.  

On January 11, 630, Muhammad and his followers were reported to have conquered Mecca.

On this day in 1569, the first recorded lottery in England took place (prizes were awarded), but it was one in which “everybody shall have prizes”: every ticketholder got a prize, and the money spent on prizes equaled the money spent on tickets. Why did Queen Elizabeth I, who organized it, do such a thing. Well, the tickets went on sale in 1566, so the lottery was an interest-free loan to the English government for three years.

On January 11, 1908, the Grand Canyon National Monument (now a National Park) was created. On this day in 1922, insulin was first used to treat diabetes: the patient was a dying 14-year-old Canadian named Leonard Thompson. After a few glitches with the injection purity, he went on to live 14 more years, taking daily shots of insulin. On this day in 1935, Amelia Earhart became the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to California.

On January 11, 1946, Enver Hoxha declared the formation of the People’s Republic of Albania, with himself (of course) as head of state.  He remained the boss until his death in 1985. On this day in 1964, according to Wikipedia, “Surgeon General of the United States Dr. Luther Terry, M.D., publishes the landmark report Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States saying that smoking may be hazardous to health, sparking national and worldwide anti-smoking efforts.” That was the formal beginning of the anti-smoking campaign.

On this day in 1972, East Pakistan renamed itself Bangladesh; the country had been independent since December of 1971. Finally, on this day in 1973, the American League (baseball) adopted the designated hitter rule, so that the pitcher didn’t have to bat. I didn’t and don’t agree with that—the pitcher should BAT!. (The National League doesn’t use designated hitters, except during the World Series and only in even-numbered years.)

Notables born on this day include Nicolas Steno (1638), Ezra Cornell (1807), G. W. Pierce (1872), Aldo Leopold (1887), Alan Paton (1903), Naomi Judd (1946),

Those who died on January 11 include Francis Scott Key (1843), Thomas Hardy (1928), Emanuel Lasker (1941), Alberto Giacometti (1966), Isidor Rabi (1988; Nobel Laureate), Éric Rohmer (2010), Edmund Hillary (2008), David Nelson (2011), and Anita Ekberg (2015).

Here’s a lovely Giacometti, “The Cat” (1954). It sold for $12.6 million:

Front view:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, some animal’s egos are doing just fine.

JA: Hili, you are distracting me.
Hili: On the contrary, I’m your inspiration.
In Polish:
Ja: Hili, rozpraszasz mnie.
Hili: Przeciwnie, jestem twoją inspiracją.

Here’s Pi, my feline BFF in Hawaii and a Wilford Brimley lookalike.


Some tweets from Grania. The first one is from Matthew Inman of the Oatmeal, and is more or less me (except for the dog part):

Herpers are SO macho!

That dog needs a good swatting by the cat:

Watch this video of an old speech by Trump, now oddly relevant:

Interspecies love (dedicated to Stephen Barnard):

And some tweets from Matthew. The first shows that The Two Cultures are alive and well:

Matthew calls this a “sadness antidote,” and it will be for some. Look at that first moggie!

Matthew loves optical illusions. The lines to which the caption refers are the horizontal ones above and below the bars:

What a lovely experience for this surfer!

And this is news to me!



  1. Mike
    Posted January 11, 2019 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    I remember a Quote by the late great Glen Campbell, he wished he could play the Banjo like Earl Scruggs and then forget about it.

  2. Christopher
    Posted January 11, 2019 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    I can relate to the Oatmeal comic, except for the cat sitting on the back of the chair. No, if I’m reading, the cat will be sitting on my chest with its butt in my face.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 11, 2019 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    There is no time on this post. Oh well, time is meaningless in Hawaii. I am of the same opinion on the pitchers and batting. Some are not so good at hitting but frankly it is half the manager’s job – when to hit for the pitcher. Besides – Babe Ruth was a pitcher.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 11, 2019 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      I have a feeling we’re not in the Central Time Zone anymore, Toto. 🙂

      Like you and our host, I’m anti-DH in baseball, but there’s a case to made the other way, too. See here.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted January 11, 2019 at 8:46 am | Permalink

        I think not seeing the time stamp on the post was because I was looking for it while on comments. It goes away after you hit comments. Oh well.

        The case for the DH sounds like it was made by Trump as it is full of mostly BS. Looking to keep older player in the line up after they can no longer play in the field is really lame. To say one poor hitter causes a boring game is nuts. What causes a boring game is slow pitching and a manager changing pitchers every 5 minutes. The game has expanded to the point of ruin. There are way too many average players and they are paid way too much money. That is the cause of falling baseball fans. If lots of batting and home runs make baseball they need to bring back all the drugs and hit lots of home runs.

      • mikeyc
        Posted January 11, 2019 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        I dislike the DH too, but an old high school chum illustrates a reason why, at least from the player’s perspective, the DH has a good reason. He had a 95 mph fastball … in HS! He was heavily recruited by major league clubs. But alas, no control. He’d either strike you out or it would go over the catcher head, still the scouts saw his raw talent. The Phillies signed him to play Red Baron AAA club (in Wilkes-Barre, IIRC). He lost out on his first season in Triple A ball when he was hit by a pitch. In his arm. His pitching arm. He never really recovered from it and by the end of the next season he was released. Pitchers are not like other players – all they have is their arm. Without it working precisely, they simply can’t BE pitchers. Arms are not delicate – they’re tough and biological, so they can heal. But pitching is an art and requires a great deal of finely tuned muscle control. Serious injuries can cause permanent damage that might not hurt an outfielder’s ability to throw out someone at home, but it can make a pitcher’s ERA go from Major league to out of the minors. Pitchers need more protection than other players.

        It’s all good though. He could still throw well enough for to play for Boston U.

        Find me a sport – any sport- that doesn’t have some kind of head-scratching ridiculous rule.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted January 11, 2019 at 10:13 am | Permalink

          Sorry but can not agree with the idea a pitcher needs more protection. If any hitter gets hit in the right place with a pitch it can be the end of a career. Additionally, all ball players in the line are up to bat many more times than any pitch, thus far more likely to get hit by a pitcher.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 11, 2019 at 10:27 am | Permalink

          A 95-mph fastball and no control? There’s a pitcher no batter wants to dig-in the batter’s box against.

          The possibility of getting hit by a pitch in the throwing arm is the reason no manager ever wants to see a right-handed pitcher bat left-handed — it leaves the right pitching arm hanging there exposed.

          And as for “head-scratching” rules, ain’t but one baseball fan in a hundred can explain the “infield fly rule” accurately. 🙂

          • mikeyc
            Posted January 11, 2019 at 11:13 am | Permalink

            It may seem weird but like some of the offsides rules in football(soccer) there is a good reason for it. But that’s the thing, outside the sport many rules seem deeply weird. For fun you can ask a bunch of sports guys to explain what is what is not a catch in the NFL. Sit back and watch. It’s amazing.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted January 11, 2019 at 11:33 am | Permalink

              Like Justice Potter Stewart and obscenity, “I know it when I see it.” 🙂

        • XCellKen
          Posted January 11, 2019 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

          Pro Wrestling does not have any ridiculous rules.

          Problem is, the ref always seems to be looking the other way when the bad guys cheat

    • Diane G
      Posted January 12, 2019 at 12:24 am | Permalink

      So I’m the only WEIT-ian who favors having the DH in both leagues?

  4. darrelle
    Posted January 11, 2019 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Anyone who enjoys interesting music should check out this new music video by a Mongolian band named The Hu. It is billed as “heavy metal” but it isn’t what you might expect. Traditional instruments and traditional Mongolian guttural singing. No blistering electric guitars or screaming. The video quality is high and it is visually gorgeous. It is very interesting to see / hear a very different culture mix elements of their traditional forms with elements of modern western metal, both lyrically and musically.

    The HU – Wolf Totem

    This 2nd video is interesting also. Musically I don’t like it as much, not bad at all though, but lyrically it is fascinating.

    The HU – Yuve Yuve Yu

    • James
      Posted January 11, 2019 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the link–I’ll have to check it out! I love it when metal bands pay homage to their history; metal is all about passion, and is the only way to do justice to many such stories. See Jag Panzer’s “Thane to the Throne” for example!

      As a metal head, the various perspectives on metal always amuse me. I mean yeah, there’s ample blistering electric guitars and screaming involved–you have Dragonforce and Hammerfall and the like. But you also have groups like Nighwish, which are less “blistering electric guitars” and more “full orchestras”. And groups like Von Canto, which is semi-acapella (they have a drummer, but that’s it; the rest of the band sings). Black Sabbath, the godfather of metal bands, made extensive use of harmonicas, and harps and bagpipes show up more than you’d expect.

      Metal is one of those things that’s hard to pin down; you know it when you hear it, but defining the limits within possibility space is notoriously difficult.

    • Andy Lowry
      Posted January 11, 2019 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      That’s interesting, thanks! Looks like it’s time for me to re-read The Secret History of the Mongols.

  5. darrelle
    Posted January 11, 2019 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Did Alfred Russel Wallace by chance have a reputation for being . . . uh, a substantial male?

    • Posted January 11, 2019 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      I expect no. But he did balk at Darwin’s theory about sexual selection, where females predominantly selectively breed for traits in males. Wallace could not fathom how the “fairer sex” could manipulate males so.

      • Posted January 11, 2019 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        I think in this respect Wallace had more right than Darwin. Darwin, if I have got it correctly, thought that choosing females were somehow “off the hook” of natural selection.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 11, 2019 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      That struck me, too. Couldn’t help it. Sometimes my brain is deplorable. OF COURSE it’s a fossil tree trunk and not a Giacometti rendering of a…


      • Diane G
        Posted January 12, 2019 at 12:28 am | Permalink

        I’d be surprised if there were any of us who didn’t immediately note a certain resemblance… 😉

  6. rickflick
    Posted January 11, 2019 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    “The National League doesn’t use designated hitters, except during the World Series and only in even-numbered years.

    This has got to be one of the most bizarre sports ideas since the invention of the ball. Can anyone explain it?

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted January 11, 2019 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      They are attempting to make it even or more fair since one league does not use the DH and one does. Idea being the DH team has an advantage. The whole idea of the DH is pretty stupid. Next they will come up with a whole team of specialist who either hit or play field. Won’t that be fun.

      • rickflick
        Posted January 11, 2019 at 9:15 am | Permalink

        Thanks. Maybe some day there will begin an era of correction in baseball. A conservative movement that will remove all the “improvements” and return to the good old days of Alexander Joy Cartwright.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted January 11, 2019 at 9:27 am | Permalink

          Actually, the points made were that this is not improvement. Even a liberal can be against change if it is not improving things. I suspect you confuse the conservative/liberal definition.

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted January 11, 2019 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      Read the other comments before posting your own…


    • RGT
      Posted January 11, 2019 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      “The DH was not used in the World Series from ’73-75 and then used by both World Series teams during even-numbered years from ’76-85. The practice of playing each game by the rules of the designated home team’s league began in the 1986 World Series.”

      • Diane G
        Posted January 12, 2019 at 12:31 am | Permalink

        So, 32 years or so of this rule and, uh, some of us (ahem) still aren’t aware of it…


        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 12, 2019 at 9:00 am | Permalink

          A monument to the membrum virile? 🙂

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted January 12, 2019 at 9:02 am | Permalink

            Sorry, this was meant in reply to you at #5 above, DG.

          • Diane G
            Posted January 12, 2019 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

            That’s a new one on me.


  7. Serendipitydawg
    Posted January 11, 2019 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    (The National League doesn’t use designated hitters, except during the World Series and only in even-numbered years.)

    What???? And I thought cricket was weird.

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted January 11, 2019 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      As an aside, it looks like The Maroon has left PCCe’s fourth incarnation of his comment on the website; two days and counting 😀

  8. BJ
    Posted January 11, 2019 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    “My name’s Pi and I’m here to talk to you about diabeetus.”

    As one of the guys at RedLetterMedia said, “Wilford Brimley still being alive makes diabetes look like the common cold.”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 11, 2019 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Maybe I’ve just got baseball in mind from above, but I really liked ol’ Wilford as the baseball manager in The Natural:

      • BJ
        Posted January 11, 2019 at 11:03 am | Permalink

        My dad and I just love that movie. I don’t really know why. I think it’s Levinson’s direction. He really managed to give it two feelings: magical and all-American. It’s one of those movies that’s like an old, comfy sweatshirt: it fits just right and warms you up on a cold day.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 11, 2019 at 11:28 am | Permalink

          Helluva cast doesn’t hurt either.

        • mfdempsey1946
          Posted January 11, 2019 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

          I worked on a movie called “Death Valley,” whose cast includes Wilford Brimley.

          One day someone in the production office told him that a local group wanted to give him an award for his performances.

          He disdained the idea, saying, “I’ve never wasted a drop of sweat over acting. To me, acting is like stealing.”

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted January 11, 2019 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, I’ve heard others say that, especially great character actors — it’s just playing “pretend.”

      • BJ
        Posted January 11, 2019 at 11:06 am | Permalink

        That’s 1984, and Brimley looks like he’s barely aged since then.

        Not because he’s eternally youthful, but because he looked like an old man by the time he was 40.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 11, 2019 at 11:30 am | Permalink

          I’ve no recollection of him seeming youngish in anything, ever.

          • Posted January 11, 2019 at 11:40 am | Permalink

            Yes, he’s one of those guys who is hard to imagine as anything other than an old man – like Socrates or Galileo.

          • BJ
            Posted January 11, 2019 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

            Wilford Brimley looked like he was 40 when he was born and then aged only half a year every year, so he finally looked his age when he reached 80.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted January 11, 2019 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

              You may have just given the “pitch” for a sequel to Benjamin Button, BJ.

              Except you (just barely) broke the cardinal rule that it be “25 words or less.” 🙂

  9. DrBrydon
    Posted January 11, 2019 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    As I started reading, I popped over to YouTube, and fired off Flatt and Scruggs’ “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” which turned out to work very well for the surfer video.

    I think that cat statue must be off a long-hair that’s just gotten out of the bath.

  10. Steve Pollard
    Posted January 11, 2019 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Love the Wallace stele!

    I suppose it is never too late for anyone, even a former governor of the Bank of England, to learn something true for once in his life. It reminds me of the observation (don’t know who made it): “There are thousands of religions in the world, but only one periodic table”.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 11, 2019 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      I’m quite shocked that a commendably open-minded economist could never have heard of the Periodic Table. That’s not a knock against him, but against the insularity of the financial sector.

      I give him full marks for wanting to learn at his age. Maybe it’s one of those things he just never had time for while he was working.


  11. Don Mackay
    Posted January 11, 2019 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    re the sheep frolicking with the dogs. In Marlborough, NZ, we have a small flock of East Friesian ewes which we hand milk. They seem to have a sense of humour and love nothing more than to have a good chase with our dog, or indeed anyone with the energy to run around with them. This involves much high speed ‘pronking’ as shown in the video. They can run faster than humans, so playing is not to be tried with rams who are likely as not to put you down.

    • Diane G
      Posted January 12, 2019 at 1:03 am | Permalink

      Aww! 🙂

    • rickflick
      Posted January 12, 2019 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      If you have some footage of your own, try sending a link to Jerry.

  12. Rita
    Posted January 11, 2019 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    The video of the sheep and 2 dogs doesn’t seem joyful, it looks like the sheep wants to be friends and the dogs are just ignoring him.

  13. Barbara Radcliff
    Posted January 11, 2019 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    The Giacometti cat, while beautiful, looks like it needs a good feed! Can you imagine the noise every time someone opens the refrigerator door?

  14. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 11, 2019 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    That guy and his (obviously well-fed) pythons – wow! Look at the size of those things! When you reflect that most of that bulk is presumably muscle* they must be ferociously strong.

    (*I’m not a herpetologist but that’s my guess).


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 11, 2019 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      But where’s the original of that video? The guy’s talking but there’s no sound. I want to know the context.

      I *detest* Tw*ts who pinch bits of video from (presumably) Youtube and stick them on Tw*tter without any attribution or information…


    • Diane G
      Posted January 12, 2019 at 1:10 am | Permalink

      I can’t imagine a scarier feeling than being constricted by a large snake!

      • rickflick
        Posted January 12, 2019 at 8:25 am | Permalink

        Strange coincidence. That’s what women used to say when I asked if they’d like to come see my etchings.

        • Diane G
          Posted January 12, 2019 at 1:37 pm | Permalink


  15. Damien
    Posted January 11, 2019 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    I too am shocked at that economist.

    How was this guy insulated from knowledge ?

    He seems to have discovered recently that cells are made of atoms.

    – Really doctor, the heart pumps blood ? How so very interesting, it goes a long way.

    He is in for a couple of other big surprises, that’s for sure.

  16. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 11, 2019 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Those sleeping cats are beautiful. And extraordinary. Cat spines must be built very differently from ours, in fact the whole of cat physiognomy must be. I think they’re made of rubber.

    Here’s the original page –

    (all credit to the Tw*tterer for including the link)


  17. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted January 11, 2019 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Is that video of Mr Trump real? Or is it a fake?
    I suspect it is real, one can’t really make that up, what a pearl! It should be played every time Mr Trump brings up his wall!

  18. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted January 11, 2019 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    As commenter ‘Theododa’ pointed out at WaPo: “…Trump wants his ignorant base to think, rightly in his case, that he is as dumb as they are. Self made and don’t need no book larnin’.
    The picture of Trump in a cap and gown could damage him more with his base than the comments about a wall.”

  19. Damien
    Posted January 12, 2019 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Next : – The Earth orbiting the Sun and not the other way around ? Fascinating !

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted January 12, 2019 at 6:48 am | Permalink

      We’ll have none of those fancy notions here, everyone knows the Earth and Sun mutually orbit a giant hippopotamus (invisible, of course).

  20. Damien
    Posted January 12, 2019 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    I thought that the “literary-artistic culture” had no serious responsability in society.

    I thought they were safely confined to some sort of daycare place, writing poetry, playing with crayons or whatever, but not allowed anywhere near the control room.

    I thought that was the main lesson learnt from Adolf Hitler.

    • Damien
      Posted January 12, 2019 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      Sorry, I meant the “literary-artistic culture” people.

  21. starskeptic
    Posted January 12, 2019 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    Using your butt as a decoy only works if the cat falls for it….

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