Thursday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

It’s Thursday, January 17, 2019, and tomorrow afternoon I wing my way back to the frozen mainland. It will be strange to go back to a city without poi, shave ice, and ducks, but with very low temperatures. It’s National Hot Buttered Rum Day again (I’m starting to remember food days from a year ago), and the Christian feast day of Our Lady of Pontmain, described by Wikipedia as:

Our Lady of Pontmain, also known as Our Lady of Hope, is the title given to the Virgin Mary on her apparition at PontmainFrance on 17 January 1871. These apparitions were approved by Pope Pius IX.

It’s curious that an apparition was “approved” by a Pope, presumably meaning that he decided it was genuine: “I’m Pope Pius and I approve of this apparition.”

On this day in 1773, Captain Cook’s Resolution, on his second voyage, became the first ship known to sail south of the Antarctic Circle. On January 17, 1904, Anton Chekhov’s famous play The Cherry Orchard premiered at the Moscow Art Theatre. More Antarcticana: on this day in 1912, Robert Falcon Scott and his men reached the South Pole, only to find, to their sorrow, that it had been visited a month before by Roald Amundsen. Scott died with three of his men on the return journey.

On January 17, 1929, exactly ninety years ago, Popeye the Sailor Man, created by E. C. Segar, appeared in the comics for the first time. Here’s the spinach-loving swabbie’s first appearance in the Thimble Theater comic strip, reproduced at the First Versions website (spinach had yet to show up):

On this day in 1945, Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who saved thousands of Jews during World War II, was arrested by the Soviet agency SMERSH in Budapest. He was never seen or heard from again, and his fate is a mystery, though presumably he was executed by the Soviets.

On January 17, 1961, during his farewell address as President, Dwight D. Eisenhower issued his famous warning against the “military-industrial complex.”

In 1977, after a ten-year hiatus, capital punishment was resumed in the U.S., this time by the firing-squad execution of Gary Gilmore.  Finally, on this day in 1998, Matt Drudge broke the story of the affair between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Here’s the big headline on that day:

Notables born on this day include Benjamin Franklin (1706), David Lloyd George (1863), Al Capone and Robert Maynard Hutchins (both 1899), Betty White (1922, still with us at 96), Eartha Kitt (1927), James Earl Jones (1931), Shari Lewis (1933), Muhammad Ali (1942), Andy Kaufman (1949), Susanna Hoffs (1959), and Jim Carrey (1962).

Those who died on January 17 include Rutherford B. Hayes (1893), Francis Galton (1911), Louis Comfort Tiffany (1933), Dougal Haston (1977, participated in the first ascent of the south face of Annapurna and of the southwest face of Everest, died in an avalanche while skiing in Switzerland), Barbara Jordan (1996), and Art Buchwald (2007).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is back to Philosophy.

Hili: So the food was good in the hospital? Were there any mice?
Andrzej: Of course not. It was a very clean hospital.
Hili: Nothing’s perfect.

In Polish:

Hili: Czy jedzenie w tym szpitalu było dobre i czy były tam myszy?
Ja: Oczywiśnie, że nie. To bardzo czysty szpital.
Hili: Nic nie jest doskonałe.

I talk story with Pi:

Jerry: Pi, I am leaving tomorrow to go back home.
Pi: Shoots den. [Hawaiian pidgin; look it up.]

And Leon’s enjoying his hiking trip to southern Poland:

Leon: I’m going to see whether there is much snow on the roof.

In Polish; Leon: Zobaczę, czy dużo śniegu jest na dachu.

A bizarre sign and humanist/comedian Shappi Khorsandi’s response:

A tweet from reader Michael. You don’t have to shake your head to see the great illusion, but it helps. Now, how did they do this?

Tweets from Matthew. Here’s an adorable wingless fly that lives on bees:

An amazing helicopter rescue (note the synchrony of the blades with the camera). What piloting!

Bouncing starfish:

Two nice sculptures that look very different from different angles. I’ll refrain from commenting on the topic of epigenetics:

A righteously vengeful cat. Matthew’s comment: “From 2013, but still . . . ”

Tweets from Grania. First, a Simon’s cat animation updated for Brexit. Given May’s tremendous defeat in Parliament two days ago, what will happen now? Give your take below:

An internet wag:

Who plays jacks any more? I did when I was a kid, and of course stepped on them often:

This is one of the cleverest stunts ever, but you need to turn up the sound:



  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 17, 2019 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    Hot Buttered Rum is a good group too – banjo, mandolin, acoustic upright bass, steel string guitar, vocals.

  2. darrelle
    Posted January 17, 2019 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Jacks were a pretty common game when I was a kid. Good game, takes skills. Marbles were also a very serious sport when I was in grade school. The most popular game to play was poison. Marbles were like money, or actually more like gem stones. You had your favorite playing marbles but most were used only for trade and for stakes in games.

    • Doug
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      Look at the expression of that girl dropping the jacks. She knows what she’s doing.

      • darrelle
        Posted January 17, 2019 at 9:00 am | Permalink

        There does seem to be a hint of evil intent in her expression.

        • mikeyc
          Posted January 17, 2019 at 9:25 am | Permalink

          Especially if you consider how these things were originally used. During the age of sail, many common sailors wore no shoes. I’ve heard of various reasons for it from being barefoot makes it easier to climb rigging to the fact that many sailors were poor conscripted men who could not afford shoes. In any event, during battle when boarding a ship, weapons like jacks, only with very sharp ends, were tossed on deck. This strategy only worked well if your guys weren’t barefoot as well.

          • darrelle
            Posted January 17, 2019 at 9:37 am | Permalink

            Didn’t know of that specific use (delivered by cannon before boarding?) but know that caltrops (the weapon toy jacks seem to have been derived from) are ancient and have been used against soldiers, horses and other war animals, and even vehicles.

            • mikeyc
              Posted January 17, 2019 at 9:46 am | Permalink

              According to Patrick O’Brian (author of the Jack Aubrey series of sailing books) these were thrown on deck by shoed boarding parties, usually Royal Marines, as they were fighting. If the fighting continued and the boarders were able to clear the deck, they’d pick up the caltrops (they used another name for these, but I can’t recall what it was) so that they didn’t present further danger to their own men. I wonder if that was one of sources of the game?

              • darrelle
                Posted January 17, 2019 at 9:51 am | Permalink

                I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. Probably the lowest and youngest on-board got the job of picking up the jacks. Send in the cabin boy!

              • darrelle
                Posted January 17, 2019 at 9:56 am | Permalink

                You sent me down the rabbit hole. This is what I’ve brought back.


                Very interesting! The origin of the game jacks is ancient and involves a particular bone from the ankle of sheep.

              • mikeyc
                Posted January 17, 2019 at 10:03 am | Permalink

                Knucklebones! Very cool. Thanks for diving down that rabbit hole. LSNED.

          • Posted January 17, 2019 at 11:42 am | Permalink

            Isn’t that a caltrop?

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      This solved an old conundrum. I have seen such bits years ago but no one knew what they were used for! They did not look very functional…

      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted January 17, 2019 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

        If you scroll down to comment 14 there is a video that shows them being used…

  3. Posted January 17, 2019 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    This is an interesting set of posts. I almost never comment on the Hili post, but …

    1. A cat jumped my grandmother in a similar way (unprovoked), knocked her down the front stair of her home, and broke both her legs. Not so funny.

    2. I stepped on those jacks when I was a kid. I can verify: Jacks are worse that Legos!

    3. I watched a helicopter make a similar rescue from the face of Bonanza Peak in the North Cascades (Washington state). To climb Bonanza, one has to take a foot-ferry up Lake Chelan to Holden, then start climbing. This means it takes three days (minimum, usually) to climb it, meaning many do it on Memorial Day, Labor Day, or 4th of July weekends. (I had many years in a row climbing on the 4th of July and being snowed on.)

    The morning of our summit attempt followed a night of rain, snow, and freezing rain, leaving the peak coated in ice. We went up; but only one party got above the glacier. And they had an accident: I watched the lead climber fall a full rope length down a gully, bouncing like a pin-ball. Unfortunately, he was not wearing a helmet (nuts!).

    Later that day, a helicopter flew up the glacier, balanced one skid on the lip of the bergschrund, and loaded the injured climber.

    In the second photo, you can see the bergschrund.

    • Posted January 17, 2019 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      In this photo, you can see a climber assisting the injured climber (who you can’t quite see) and the bottom of the gully.

    • darrelle
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      No helmet! *cringe*

      • Posted January 17, 2019 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        Indeed. He fractured his skull. He only survived because his skull was fractured BOTH side to side AND front to back, allowing a bit of expansion of the brain case.

        He had some minor debility following the event; but life went on.

    • mikeyc
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      I witnessed a helicopter rescue not far from there once too, though it was not at altitude. Still, the chopper pilot had nowhere to land (the injured hiker was in a creek) and had to hover a couple feet off the ground then sidle over to the creek *under* the tree canopy. They got the injured man on board then he sidled back out and off he went. It was an Air National Guard helicopter. Very impressive. I have no idea what happened to the injured hiker – he was not with us.

      • Posted January 17, 2019 at 10:11 am | Permalink

        I was pulled off Mt. Shuksan (don’t ask!) in a US Army helicopter (broken fibula).

        I love those soldiers and pilots! 🙂

        • Posted January 17, 2019 at 10:29 am | Permalink

          Mt. Shuksan, earlier that day. I’m fairly certain I am one of those climbers in the central gully, probably heading down.

          (I slid in the gully and my crampon caught. Ugh.)

          • mikeyc
            Posted January 17, 2019 at 11:16 am | Permalink

            Shuksan is beautiful, majestic. I made an attempt up Sulfide glacier once with some friends but got chased off by dirty weather and never summited. Mt Challenger is not far away and that is quite a nice climb too.

          • Diane G
            Posted January 18, 2019 at 1:42 am | Permalink

            Wow, what a peak!

            • Diane G
              Posted January 18, 2019 at 1:43 am | Permalink

              PS: Love all your pics–thanks for posting them!

        • John Conoboy
          Posted January 17, 2019 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

          The military helicopter pilots are awesome. At Mount Rainier we would get assistance from the military on rescues. At the higher altitude only the big Chinook helos could operate. On one rescue, the pilot touched down on the glacier with just the rear of the helo touching the snow, opened the rear door so the rescue team could exit and then held the ship in a partial hover for about 30 minutes until the injured and crew were back on board.

        • Posted January 17, 2019 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

          This is the proper function of the military!

  4. W.T. Effingham
    Posted January 17, 2019 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    “I’m Pope Plus and I approve this apparition because in this age of printed press and that telegraph thingy, we must fight fake news with fake news🙏” .

  5. rickflick
    Posted January 17, 2019 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    You can only see this optical illusion if you shake your head.

    I don’t see any illusion. When it says “shake” maybe it means as with a paint can shaker. 😟

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 7:46 am | Permalink

      I do the ‘floss’ dance and I see nothing.

      • rickflick
        Posted January 17, 2019 at 9:53 am | Permalink

        I’d have a herniated disc.

    • darrelle
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      I had trouble seeing it too. Finally I shook my head side to side violently, which was quite unpleasant, and I could faintly make out the empyrean apparition “behind” the lines.

      • rickflick
        Posted January 17, 2019 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        Some illusions are simply not worth the effort.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted January 17, 2019 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        Oddly, I saw it just by looking at it. Maybe it’s the way my monitor is set up.

        • rickflick
          Posted January 17, 2019 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

          Or, maybe you have a cat shaped hole in your heart. 😎

      • rickflick
        Posted January 17, 2019 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

        OK, I see it now. I was too close.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 3:53 am | Permalink

        Yep, me too. Side to side, and the ‘picture’ was very faint.

        How’s it done? I *think* that the vertical lines are very slightly thickened and darkened in the areas of the dark image. Moving the head side to side blurs the lines so an ‘average’ impression is received, and this ‘average’ is darker where the lines are thickened.


        • Michael Fisher
          Posted January 18, 2019 at 4:15 am | Permalink

          This is the INSTRUCTABLES on how to make your own illusion in PhotoShop

        • darrelle
          Posted January 18, 2019 at 7:34 am | Permalink

          Not sure how it is done. Pure speculation but, given that unfocusing your eyes and moving your head side to side works well to see through the lines I wonder if this illusion takes advantage of our visual system’s ability to see even slight movement in the field of view. A technique I learned long ago for spotting things is to look at a scene without focusing your eyes anything. Even small movements in your field of view seem to pop out at you.

    • Carl S
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      I couldn’t see it until I took off my readers, then it was quite apparent.

    • Peter
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      I can see the illusion without shaking my head if I take enough distance, or if I remove my glasses. I guess the illusion depends on blurred viewing.

      • James
        Posted January 17, 2019 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        Agreed. I can’t see it just shaking my head, but if I shake my head and unfocus my eyes a bit, it pops out.

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      Just a quick sweep of the eyes from side to side reveals the kitty for me.

      Maybe you have a next generation vision system that just jjust isn’t fooled…

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      I saw it straightaway on my Samsung tablet although it wasn’t that well defined (grey on grey).

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      When I shake I get something vaguely looking like a cat’s face.
      Nice visual.

  6. Posted January 17, 2019 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Given May’s tremendous defeat in Parliament two days ago, what will happen now? Give your take below:

    Right now, she is talking to other parties to try to get enough votes to get her deal through. She’ll probably fail at that, which means there are three options open to her:

    1. No deal Brexit

    2. Cancel Brexit (at least for now)

    3. Ask the EU for an extension to the Article 50 period.

    As far as I can see, the only point in doing option 3 is to give us time to organise a new referendum and May has ruled that out.

    I think May will therefore attempt option 2, but that is probably career ending for her and therefore, option 1 is the most likely outcome at this point.

    • darrelle
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      I don’t entirely understand the politics of the situation. Is it feasible that the EU would accept option 2? Do the laws, agreements, treaties that govern the EU provide a means of canceling at this point?

      • David Harper
        Posted January 17, 2019 at 8:33 am | Permalink

        The European Court of Justice ruled in December that Britain could unilaterally revoke the Article 50 notification at any point up to March 29.

        • darrelle
          Posted January 17, 2019 at 8:59 am | Permalink

          Thank you.

        • Posted January 18, 2019 at 5:30 am | Permalink

          Furthermore, there is still a preference amongst other EU states that the UK should remain in the EU (notwithstanding the fact that we have been a consistently rebellious member for years).

      • Mark Jones
        Posted January 17, 2019 at 8:53 am | Permalink

        The EU have no say in the cancelling of Article 50, but they do in its extension, which means it is easier to cancel Brexit than to postpone Brexit.

        The Court ruled that “the withdrawal [of Article 50 notification] had to be based on an “unequivocal and unconditional decision””, whatever that means –

        This leaves the door open to countries triggering Article 50, cancelling, then triggering again. This would irritate the EU, to say the least, but I guess they would have to change the law to prevent this.

        • darrelle
          Posted January 17, 2019 at 8:59 am | Permalink

          Thanks for the info.

        • Posted January 17, 2019 at 10:01 am | Permalink

          The Court ruled that “the withdrawal [of Article 50 notification] had to be based on an “unequivocal and unconditional decision””, whatever that means

          I think it means we couldn’t do it just to get an extension without EU agreement.

      • kieran
        Posted January 17, 2019 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        They can cancel article 5oth at anytime up to it’s due date.

        1. No deal brexit – There is a majority in the house against this so most likely will be avoided.
        2. Cancel brexit – Without a election or a referendum political suicide

        3. Ask the EU for an extension to the Article 50 period – most likely and can be done unilaterally but is complicated by the European elections in May.

        If they delay then there would have to be European elections in the UK. In England, Scotland and Wales the d’Hondt system while in Northern Ireland the single transferable vote will be used as Northern Ireland is exactly the same as the rest of the UK except for voting systems, government structure, abortion laws, marriage equality etc.

        How they are going to get a wording or form of words that will satisfy the DUP and Brexiters is beyond me, this is a withdrawal arrangement which will superseded by a mutually beneficial but still lesser arrangement than full membership. The backstop is an insurance policy to something all parties agree on no Hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

        My only solution would be a bio-security arrangement, food and food products made on the island of Ireland and on the island of Britain will have certain checks observed when being transported between the Islands. Such checks already occur. On services it would be possible to have a electronic system…goods not so much but that isn’t a huge issue. All this would prevent a hard border but would but a bio-security border in the Irish sea. Basically your cattle would be Irish but your people would continue to be British.

        4. Blame Ireland for all their problems and that we are the pawns of European bureaucrats bent on stopping the ginger beer, unicorn filled future the brexiters promised. Already happening, the DUP already hate Leo Varadkar, I don’t know what our gay, son of immigrants, medical doctor could’ve done to offend them.

        • Posted January 17, 2019 at 9:41 am | Permalink

          There is no solution that will satisfy DUP demands. The two concepts of being able to control our borders and having an open border with the Republic of Ireland cannot be reconciled. If you want out of the Customs Union, we must have a border with the RoI, either that or a border between NI and the rest of the UK.

          I think we’ll probably leave with No Deal unless the PM puts the country ahead of the party. If we do, there will need to be a fully controlled border between the two parts of the island of Ireland. Not only that, but the DUP might find themselves in a fight to stop the reunification of NI and the RoI. I’d find it somewhat hilarious, if by their actions, the DUP precipitated reunion.

          • kieran
            Posted January 17, 2019 at 9:54 am | Permalink

            I’d put up a statue to Arlene as the great unifier on O’Connell street!

            It would funny unless it wasn’t so tragic, DUP are ignoring their own constituency in their actions, chance for the Ulster Unionists to take back a bit of power from them. I don’t want unification that doesn’t include the majority from the unionist community, 51-52% in a border poll would not be enough to change the status quo peacefully.

            Unification means we get the head cases like Sammy Wilson and the Caleb institute! Bad enough we’ve got the iona institute at least they accept the age of the earth

            It’s not like we didn’t warn them the border would be an issue

          • Peter
            Posted January 17, 2019 at 10:30 am | Permalink

            “The two concepts of being able to control our borders and having an open border with the Republic of Ireland cannot be reconciled.”
            Both are British wishes, so called ‘Red Lines’.
            The only option available to satify those two concepts is a customs union, what the UK does not wish either.

            The EU has had an extraordinate amount of patience wtth all the British unreconcilable ideas and tantrums. After all, that ‘back stop’ some are complaining about is a British idea.
            On the continent there is only surprise at the level of sheer incompetence of all British politicians.

            • Serendipitydawg
              Posted January 17, 2019 at 11:15 am | Permalink

              On the continent there is only surprise at the level of sheer incompetence of all British politicians.

              The same goes for the UK too!

    • Mark Jones
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      Have you seen signs that May will attempt option 2? I haven’t, quite the opposite. Even after her deal was voted down by an enormous majority she is sticking to the same red lines that dictated the terms of that deal. She appears to be more interested in keeping the Tory party (and DUP) together than going back on her many assurances that “Brexit means Brexit”.

      Given her stubbornness on the red lines I presume she will return with something similar to her deal, but without the backstop and with some more political commitments.

      I’ve been predicting a no deal for some time now, on the grounds that leaving has already been agreed by Parliament (the Article 50 vote), and that there could never be agreement on the terms of leaving (because the public have been sold a square circle). If Parliament can’t agree what to do next (and they can’t), then we will leave on March 29th. I think that is why ultra-Brexiteers are pretty relaxed.

      • Posted January 17, 2019 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        My assertion that she will attempt option 2 is based on the fact that most of Parliament (including her) does not want a No Deal Brexit. I think, having failed to get enough support for her deal, the ground will start to be softened for options 2 or 3. As the deadline approaches, everybody in Parliament who does not want a No Deal will start screaming for options 2 or 3. At some point it will become politically possible for May to put option 2 or 3 forward and it will get through.

        There’s still plenty of opportunity for that sequence of events to go wrong (e.g. if May tries to save her career), so option 1 is highly likely.

        • Mark Jones
          Posted January 17, 2019 at 9:54 am | Permalink

          Thanks Jeremy, I hope you’re right about option 2. Certainly things will get more febrile as March 29th approaches, so anything could happen!

          • Paul King
            Posted January 17, 2019 at 10:33 am | Permalink

            With May determined to get her own deal, instead of compromising with the opposition parties the whole thing is up in the air.

            Unless Parliament moves to take control May is going to run down the clock until the choice becomes her deal or No Deal. The EU is not going to allow an extension unless something changes. If the U.K. offered significant changes to the deal or maybe if May’s deal is accepted but the U.K. needs more time to sort out the changes to the law.

            If Parliament rules out No Deal, May loses her strongest threat, and I don’t know what she would do then.

            • Paul King
              Posted January 17, 2019 at 11:42 am | Permalink

              Seems I was wrong. May’s strategy -or at least the one she’s told her MPs – is to run down the clock and hope that the EU backs down over the Irish backstop.

              Which puts us right on the road to No Deal.

              • neil
                Posted January 17, 2019 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

                Given the level of competence displayed so far,i’m afraid that it’s all going to swirl around like bathwater down the plughole and end in a no-deal crash. Look at all the talents involved: Disgraced Former Defence Secretary Liam Fox, David Davis, Alexander de Pfeffel Johnson, Chris Grayling and his pizza delivery ferry deal, Dominic Raab (the man who didn’t realise that Dover was an important trading port, and then resigned as a matter of principle because he felt he couldn’t agree with a withdrawal agreement that he himself had negotiated…)…
                And all in thrall to the tiny pressure group of rabid free-market disaster capitalists who get their followers aroused with their Pavlovian chants of ‘Will of the people’ and ‘Take Back Control’….

                Whatever happens, even if by some miracle Article 50 is suspended or withdrawn, Britain is absolutely ruined. Any reputation of sensible level-headedness we had has just been pissed up the wall,and nobody can trust us anymore. In the next year or so, when it comes time for Nissan and BMW to upgrade or change their production lines across Europe, what weighting will they give to the ones in Britain? Nah, leave them,and move production somewhere stable and reliable, anywhere in mainland Europe.
                Only a fool would invest in Britain any more.

        • Posted January 18, 2019 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

          Latest indications are that May will try to get her deal through Parliament by passing amendments to her deal which meet the demands of the far right, and hope the EU eventually agree to amend the withdrawal agreement in line with those demands:

          Mrs May’s demands are understood to still centre around either a legally binding time-limit for the Irish backstop; a right for the UK to withdraw unilaterally, or a hard commitment to finalising a trade deal before 2021 to avoid the backstop coming into force.

      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted January 17, 2019 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        Have you seen signs that May will attempt option 2? I haven’t, quite the opposite

        She has always had the mantra brexit means brexit implying that she wishes to honour the result of the referendum despite her own position that remain is the better option.

        It is entirely possible that she would select option 2 as time runs out, but it would be political suicide. I doubt that the Tories as a party would suffer too much, the alternatives are hardly reassuring, should a general election loom after March 29th.

    • PeteT
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the interesting comment.

      1 – May’s deal coming back to life? 10% chance
      2 – No Deal brexit? 30%
      3 – Second ref after A20 extension? 50% (75% chance remain if it went ahead)
      4 – A20 extension without promise of 2nd ref? 10%
      5 – Cancel brexit without 2nd ref? <1%

      These are my personal opinion percentage odds and they vary day to day. Currently Number 1 is on the way back up having been very low yesterday. Number 2 is lurking in the “we couldn’t be that reckless,, could we?” percentages. Number 3 is on the rise – I’d’ve had it at 15% before Christmas. It has the cleverest parliamentarians behind it. Number 4 is rising because noises from Brussels are that they really really don’t want that. Number 5 won’t happen.

      • Posted January 17, 2019 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

        I think cancel Brexit is quite a bit higher and May’s deal is practically zero.

        • PeteT
          Posted January 17, 2019 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

          Interesting. No political leader of any of the various factions is advocating cancelling brexit without a second referendum so I do not see where this would come from (hence my low assessment of the odds on this).
          May – we’re leaving regardless of consequences. I would let the sky fall rather than let down the 52%.
          Corbyn – let’s have a general election and then I will use my hitherto unproven negotiating skills to get a better brexit deal. Or if it politically expedient I will swing behind the second referendum. Or do as I am told by momentum.
          Cable – let’s have a second referendum.
          Sturgeon – let’s have a second referendum.
          Rees-Mogg – let’s leave with no deal and make Britain great again.
          Johnson – whatever makes it most likely for me to become PM.
          Grieve – I will use my considerable political cunning to push for a second referendum.
          Farage – trust me, no deal will be fine.
          Foster – Brexit if you have to but not at the cost of splitting up the union even a bit.

          Where is option 5 going to come from (and I very much hope you are right about this and convince me!)? As recently as this morning (UK time) I would have agreed with you about the May plan. I hear it is not as dead as it should be.

          • Posted January 18, 2019 at 4:19 am | Permalink

            You’re going by the things the politicians are saying now. However, any option other than No Deal is going to require more time which means either extending the deadline or cancelling Brexit for now.

            Any politician who is saying “second referendum” is, by default saying “stop Brexit at least temporarily”. If we want a third referendum, we will have to ask for an extension to article 50. If any of the other twenty seven countries of the EU say no, we will have to cancel Brexit (which we can do unilaterally) before having the referendum, because there isn’t time to organise one before the end of March.

            So having got Brexit stopped, think about the referendum. The first thing is that Parliament will have to agree what the question is going to be. I predict that debate will get deadlocked in exactly the same way as the current proceedings are, so it could be years before any referendum actually happens.

            By the way, tomorrow is the day when, even if nobody changed their minds after 2016, the demographic shift wipes out the Brexit majority. The longer we delay having the third referendum, the harder it becomes for Leave to win.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      I still cannot fathom Brexit.
      – It was a non binding referendum.
      – Brexit was voted for with a very thin margin (2%?), shouldn’t these monumental decision be decided by at least a 2/3rds majority?
      – A lot of the promises by the Brexiteers turned out to be lies. Like the millions for Health care, stopping Islamic immigration, etc.
      – There are ubiquitous reports that many pro-Brexit voters regret their vote
      – Brexit, as it turned out now, was promoted on social media by Russian trolls’
      Are these not good reasons to hold a new referendum? With the present mess, I think the ‘Bremain’ would get a seriously positive vote.
      Why are British politicians rabid and hell-bound on going against what are -in most probability- the voters wishes? Or at least why not poll them again? Why not a second (non-binding, of course) referendum?

      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted January 17, 2019 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        It was a non binding referendum

        It was the manner in which Cameron proposed it. He headed of to the EU to negotiate with ‘or else there will be a referendum’ hanging in the air. The result was 52% to 48% with a high turnout, so there was a pretty definite turn of opinion against the E,. then Cameron chickened out and handed the poisened chalice on. Who would be the one to say that the government wasted so much money only to ignore the result?

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted January 17, 2019 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

          Apologies for the many typos, I blame…

          no-one but myself. Goodnight 😀

      • Mark Jones
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 5:19 am | Permalink

        Your comments are accurate, and exclude the fact that elements of the Leave campaign are now being investigated by the National Crime Agency under suspicion of overseas funding; so the Leave campaign may have been illegal too. The Electoral Commission fined them for this, but don’t have the powers to confirm their suspicions –

        Note too that A C Grayling suggests that the reason the referendum wasn’t specified with a higher threshold (say, 60% of those who voted, which some have recommended for referendums of such import) was because it was non-binding, so maybe there was a certain amount of skullduggery in the set-up of the vote –

        However, the non-binding nature of the vote (in legal terms) was overridden by the political commitments made by all politicians during the referendum campaign, so whilst it was technically non-binding, it is politically binding.

        To answer you first question, some politicians are insistent on Brexit for ideological reasons (right wing libertarian free-marketeers, or left wing state-controllists) and others are just mindful of the fierce hardcore of ultra-Leave voters in many parts of the country that have been hit hard by the Tory’s austerity measures. For these people Leave is not the answer to their problems but they see it as two fingers up to the establishment and Johnny Foreigner. They have been told Brexit will hit their communities the hardest, but they either don’t care or they don’t believe these predictions any more, so successful has been the Leave campaign’s propaganda.

        A second referendum would clearly be the rational thing to do, and was even suggested by ultra-Brexiteer Jacob Rees Mogg before the first referendum (though not now of course!). But it’s hard to see how the terms of such a vote could be agreed, and consistent Leave propaganda against it has left it politically difficult to champion.

        In future, this whole clusterfuck will surely serve as an example of how liberal democracies can be derailed by a combination of malevolent actors within and without, and a naive tolerance of those actors.

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 17, 2019 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    In 1977, after a ten-year hiatus, capital punishment was resumed in the U.S., this time by the firing-squad execution of Gary Gilmore.

    Gilmore was the subject of Norman Mailer’s Pulitzer-prize winning “nonfiction novel,” The Executioner’s Song. It may be Mailer’s best book; it is certainly his least Mailer-like — told in relatively simple, straightforward language, with an effaced authorial presence.

    I tend to think of it in tandem with that other celebrated “nonfiction novel,” Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, the story of a Kansas farm family and the two men who murdered them, as the closest any American writers have come to producing a counterpart to Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment.

    • Posted January 17, 2019 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      Thanks Ken, I will have to try The Executioner’s Song. I tried The Naked and the Dead and couldn’t read it.


      “told in relatively simple, straightforward language, with an effaced authorial presence”

      Is what I seek in books, almost always.

      Give me content, tell me the story and forget the style.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 17, 2019 at 10:57 am | Permalink

        Yeah, give it a try, jblilie; it might be the Mailer for you.

        The Naked and the Dead isn’t for everyone. Still, it’s a hell of a novel for a 24-year-old to have written. And, with a couple exceptions, Mailer’s fiction gets even more difficult from there. Many readers find his journalism and nonfiction writing a much more inviting read.

  8. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 17, 2019 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Hili sees nothing wrong with a few mice in the hospital. Should be a safe place to operate.

    Thanks to Speaker Pelosi for eliminating one on screen appearance by Mr. Nauseating. Many already know the state of the union, sad that it is and it could always be submitted in writing as it was in the days before video delivery. Better yet he could just send it to Russia and it would be all over Face book in minutes.

    • mikeyc
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      I think (but could be wrong) that the tradition of giving the speech personally to congress began with Woodrow Wilson. Before him, most presidents sent it in writing. I think that is much better. It’s nothing but theater now. Hasn’t been anything else for ages.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted January 17, 2019 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        Yes, the one part of the thing I did not know until Pelosi did this was the procedure. Apparently the Speaker of the house must invite the president so sending this letter to him was telling him he was not invited. Kind of a stick it to him letter.

        • rickflick
          Posted January 17, 2019 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

          I like the sound of that. 😁

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted January 17, 2019 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

            There is more update on this today. Now Trump has cancelled congressional trips on military flights overseas. Pelosi and others were to go today, including to Afghanistan but Trump killed it. The childish, juvenile behavior continues. Amazing stuff.

            • rickflick
              Posted January 17, 2019 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

              Oh boy. I guess if congress can’t travel and tRump can’t speak, there not much of a loss. This thing could go on for much longer. I’d go for a Dreamers for a wall deal at this point, but offer him 2.5 billion (or whatever his first number was).

  9. David Harper
    Posted January 17, 2019 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Apropos “Jacks”, those things were called caltrops in medieval times. They were an early anti-personnel device.

    • Nicholas K.
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      They still are!

      • Derek Freyberg
        Posted January 17, 2019 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

        A classmate of mine in the late 1950s had one, presumably picked up by his father in WW2, roughly the size of a tennis ball. I believe that in WW2 they were used as an anti-aircraft device (scattered on runways or other potential landing areas) or anti-vehicle device (scattered on roads) rather than anti-personnel.

  10. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted January 17, 2019 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    It strikes me as funny that with the dramatic helicopter rescue they leave the cameraman stranded on the mountain.

  11. Posted January 17, 2019 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Ever since the initial Brexit referendum, I’ve predicted that it will never happen but I must admit that I am nervous about it now. They really need that second referendum.

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      They really need that second referendum.

      No-one voted to join the EU, 52% voted to leave so let’s go and see what happens. I am pretty sure that if 52% had voted to stay and the 48% asked for a second referendum, the 52% would feel exactly the same: we made our choice and you can’t keep asking until you get the answer you want.

      They asked a stupid question that many, like me, answered in a way to give them the kicking that we felt they deserved (since they get elected and then ignore us). Unfortunately, enough people wanted to kick Cameron and we ended up with an answer that gives them a genuine difficulty. Tough, you asked.

      • Posted January 17, 2019 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        I don’t find these standard responses very compelling. In fact, they are complete BS.

        “… you can’t keep asking until you get the answer you want.”

        A couple of years have gone by since the first referendum. Does democracy not allow people’s opinion to change? If so, why do we keep repeating elections for PM or POTUS? Once elected, they should stay in office until they die or quit. After all, once we’ve made a decision, we must stick with it.

        It would be impractical in most cases to keep taking votes for the same thing over and over. But that’s not really the situation, is it? To pretend that it is a strawman argument. If a second referendum resulted in Stay, it would still leave the question open in the future. Perhaps a decade from now, opinion changes once again and people want to leave the EU. Hopefully it would be preceded by a lot more discussion and less fake news than the first one was.

        “A second referendum would be an insult to democracy.”

        As long as a vote reflects the will of a majority of the people, it respects democracy just fine. Nothing in democracy says that change can’t be accomodated. If anything, the first referendum was the insult to democracy. There were so many lies told by Leavers and many voters had no idea what the ramifications of leaving the EU would be.

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted January 17, 2019 at 11:57 am | Permalink

          I don’t find these standard responses very compelling. In fact, they are complete BS.

          Really? Well BS is as BS says.

          They have not implemented the result of their referendum and their incometence in doing so in no way negates its result.

          The simple fact is that no threshold was set to overturn the status quo and a simple majority suffices. Perhaps if we had been consulted on joining the EU in the first place they would have a more representative result.

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted January 17, 2019 at 11:59 am | Permalink

          There were so many lies told by Leavers and many voters had no idea what the ramifications of leaving the EU would be..

          And you undermine your very argument. So many election promises are pie in the sky, does that mean we get to re-run elections when they don’t implement their manifesto? I think not.

          • Posted January 17, 2019 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

            Yes, we do. Trump will probably fail to build the wall he promised in 2016. That will cause him to lose support in 2020 and, perhaps, he will not be re-elected. We have do-overs all the time. Of course, circumstances change between votes so they are not really do-overs, but that is my point exactly. If circumstances change, and they certainly have for Brexit, voting again makes perfect sense. In fact, it would be stupid and irresponsible not to.

            • Serendipitydawg
              Posted January 17, 2019 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

              Indeed, but what you are talking about is the next scheduled vote. I suspect if the Trumpster had been elected and then, between the election and inauguration, a change of heart ensued, there would be some difficulty in having the election again.

              The implementation of the referendum result was known to take a long time; it was scheduled to take two years to allow negotiation that has supposedly been happening, though the evidence is scant that they did anything other than ask for things the EU was going to reject, ending with a poor deal that is good for the EU and bad for us.

              The rights and wrongs of this situation are nether here nor there, we are where we are, saying we need to rethink and ask everyone again is a lame response.

              Dropping out of the union without a deal certainly scares the EU, I suspect the UK is going to find it equally as bad as making poor deals at the very last minute. Of course, the EU really doesn’t want anyone leaving their club, especially if they go on to survive quite happily, as that would undermine the united states of Europe that would seem to be the long term goal of the unseen, unelected commisioners.

              • Posted January 17, 2019 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

                I see your point but there’s no such thing as a SCHEDULED referendum on leaving the EU so it really doesn’t apply. I certainly don’t think we should forgo a second vote because we’re too embarrassed and worry it will be seen as a “lame response”.

                If the “do-over” aspect of a second referendum bothers people too much, just make it it a multiple-choice question that includes all the usual choices: “no-deal exit”, remain, accept May’s deal, etc.

                [Disclaimer: Although I say “we” above, I live in the US. I was born in London, but left as a child, so perhaps I could have voted. I’m not sure what the law is.]

              • Serendipitydawg
                Posted January 17, 2019 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

                So, next time it’s 52% remain 48% leave, what then? Best of three?

                We already have a result; they triggered article 50 which gave 2 years, and here we are.

                I will be interested to see what happens next, I very much doubt it will involve any kind of consensus.

              • Posted January 17, 2019 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

                “So, next time it’s 52% remain 48% leave, what then? Best of three?”

                Remain of course. It is not like we’re voting whether or not to deflect an asteroid that is about to hit the Earth. By its nature it is an issue that can be revisited. If it makes people happy, pass a law that authorizes a Stay/Leave vote every few years.

              • Serendipitydawg
                Posted January 17, 2019 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

                If it makes people happy, pass a law that authorizes a Stay/Leave vote every few years.

                Yeah, right. Oh wait, we had a vote. Two and bit years ago, I remember it. We voted to leave.

      • Posted January 17, 2019 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

        If you voted to leave the EU just to give David Cameron a kicking, that was pretty irresponsible. This isn’t a game, it’s the future of everybody in this country and many people elsewhere.

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted January 17, 2019 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

          I say that flippantly, though I am not unhappy to leave the EU. I didn’t get a vote on joining the EU, I didn’t actually get a vote on joining the EEC, our vote was go remain after the government signed us up and the EEC was a free trade area that made sense.

          Politics is a game… at least, they behave like children, so I assume it is a game.

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted January 17, 2019 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

          And you have admit that he did print kick me on his back in fairly large letters. What was it he said, I will go to the EU and if I don’t get what I want…

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted January 17, 2019 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

        I disagree.
        Brexit was a vote against Mr Cameron and the way things were, more than an actual vote for leaving the EU (I admit that is a subjective view). I appear to remember it was a non-binding referendum anyway.
        It has been two years now, so we, and the British voters, can see more clearly what Brexit entails. So, why not a second referendum? If Brexit is such a good deal (the “52% feeling exactly the same”), what are the Brexiteers afraid of? Reality, it seems.
        Personally I think that an overwhelming majority of Brits would vote Bremain now, but without a second referendum we’ll not know.

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted January 17, 2019 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

          Personally I think that an overwhelming majority of Brits would vote Bremain now, but without a second referendum we’ll not know.

          It is an interesting theory but I suspect that there would still be quite a vote in favour of leaving the EU, so there would be a grumbling undercurrent for decades to come.

          The problem stems from the original referendum not having a threshold that would have allowed Cameron to walk away from the result. He subsequently chickened out and resigned but the result lives on, ignoring it would have intersting implications for the political lanscape going forward. I personally have fewer and fewer people to vote for since Nick Clegg sold out his principles just for a bit of power.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 4:17 am | Permalink

        So what are you saying? It was a stupid result, people can now see it was a stupid thing to do, but it has to be done anyway just because – what? To teach them a lesson, regardless of who or what suffers in the process?

        Well f*ck that (as Hitch would say).


        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted January 18, 2019 at 5:43 am | Permalink

          As I have said elsewhere, I don’t think it is a stupid thing to do. Had I been asked if I wanted to convert a European free trade area that we had been a member of less than 20 years into an overbearing political gravy train, I would have said no. Nobody asked that question, they just signed the treaty and that was that.

          Cameron went off to Brussels to talk tough and negotiate terms, all with the prospect of a leave/stay referendum in his back pocket. It was no surprise that the EU sent him packing without his key requirements, he did try to polish the turd a bit but ultimately decided on the referendum.

          I suspect Cameron’s government was expecting the millions that they could spend on propaganda, which fell outside election rules, would outweigh anything a leave campaign could muster and they could ask the question, safe in the knowledge that the answer would accord with their preferred course. Then he could go ahead and accept what crumbs the EU had conceded to him and the electorate would get stuck with the blame because they voted to stay.

          Well he misjudged the mood, and instead of sticking it out and dealing with brexit, he vamoosed and handed the baton to May; she then called an unnecessary general election to increase her majority, reducing it in the process to a level that means she needs to hand out billions to another party just to blow her nose (a party with regressive views that mean, amongst other things, that women from a part of the UK have to travel to a different part of the UK to seek an abortion that is illegal where they live).

          And here we are, two years on from A50 with a deal that is just peachy for the EU. It is just a shame that there isn’t a big enough majority for TM to swing it; even the party she bribed wasn’t going to have that one, though it is doubtful that the few votes she could muster there would outweigh the dissent within her own party.

          They could just admit that they have wasted two years and hundreds of millions of pounds and call the whole thing off, there certainly isn’t time for them to get any sort of deal that would fly with parliament, especially since the EU are trying to push it to the brink by declaring that the deal is the one we have, take it or leave it.

          We live in interesting times, I just hope leave really does mean leave.

          My shorthand for all the BS that I have just typed is that they asked a stupid question and got a stupid answer.

          • Posted January 18, 2019 at 10:20 am | Permalink

            So, Serendipitydawg, what is your real gripe with membership in the EU? I’ll admit that I haven’t reviewed everything you wrote here but it seems like your main beef is not having been asked properly when the UK joined the EU.

            • Serendipitydawg
              Posted January 18, 2019 at 10:33 am | Permalink

              I will say that has nothing whatsoever to do with immigration, before that one gets punted.

              I have nothing further to add, otherwise I would probably end up violating at least two of Da Roolz.

        • rickflick
          Posted January 18, 2019 at 8:25 am | Permalink

          It’s thought that the brexiteers would be furious if there was another referendum. A promise broken.

          • Posted January 18, 2019 at 10:25 am | Permalink

            They might well be furious but they should be reminded that the first referendum was non-binding. As I’ve said earlier, the arguments against a second referendum are specious. They consist mostly of fears that the people might decide to stay. If a majority of people want to stay in the EU then how is it democratic to ignore them? If a second referendum was held, it would put all the shenanigans that occured before the first one in the rear-view mirror.

          • Serendipitydawg
            Posted January 18, 2019 at 11:00 am | Permalink

            There would be some serious political unrest within the Conservative party and, given that a second referendum wouldn’t be possible much before August, it is moot.

            Paul Topping proposed withdrawing article 50 and passing a law requiring a remain/leave vote every few years, so I can’t really take his viewpoint seriously.

            Amber Rudd scraped through the 2017 election with 46.9% of the vote in Hastings+Rye, so 53.1% of voters that she represents didn’t get the result that they wanted. The non-binding vote’s 52% for leave was accepted, A50 was triggered (at May’s choice) and the government squandered 2 years fighting amongst themselves with countless Brexit secretaries who have resigned giving clear warning that things are not peachy in the negotiations. They can choose at this late stage to ignore the 52%, I have no idea what would happen if they did… I wouldn’t say the Tories would become unelectable, Labour had plenty of constituencies with a majority vote of leave, but the present party would be incapable of governing because the leave faction on their side of the house would scupper anything they tried to do.

            The times are interesting, I await the future with interest.

            At that, I leave this conversation with nothing more to say, certainly in justification of my position and opinion.

            • Posted January 18, 2019 at 11:24 am | Permalink

              And why exactly do you reject my proposal to have a periodic “Should UK stay in the EU?” vote? If you said why, I missed it. Although I am in favor of Remain, I could hardly propose a second referendum without also accepting that circumstances and opinions change. I can imagine circumstances where I might vote Leave too. I am not predicting them, of course, but acknowledging the possibility.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      I think the whole Brexit is playing Mr Putin’s hand.
      He’s been trying to ‘destabilize’ the ‘West’.
      Getting a shill, Mr Trump, into the White House was, of course, his greatest success until now, but Brexit might come in second or third.
      With a weakened NATO and a EU in disarray, his leeway of implementing his expansionist policies is greatly enhanced.

      • Posted January 17, 2019 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        There are reports that Trump wants the US to leave NATO. If that happened, it would probably place first in Putin’s list of accomplishments.

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted January 17, 2019 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

          I can’t disagree with that. I very much doubt that the UK is even on his radar, beyond the brexit shaking the EU up.

      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted January 17, 2019 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

        You must really think people are stupid. I for one would be really interested to know how Mr Putin influenced me to vote leave… Facebook? No. Twitter? No. Instagram? No. I guess he must somehow be able to make me think that the EU is a gravy train for self serving politicians via telepathy or some such.

        • Posted January 17, 2019 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

          Perhaps Putin influenced all your friends and relatives and you just went along with them. LOL.

          • Serendipitydawg
            Posted January 17, 2019 at 3:26 pm | Permalink


            I was just glad we didn’t join the Euro… the prevailing opinion there was that our future would be doomed unless we did. How did that one work out? Oh yes, Greece.

            • Posted January 17, 2019 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

              The Euro is doing just fine, last I heard. And who knows how much more business GB would do if they were on the Euro?

              • Serendipitydawg
                Posted January 17, 2019 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

                Since they fiddled the figures to get Greece in and their economy subsequently collapsed, requiring massive injections of cash from the remaining Eurozone members, I think you are being somewhat disingenuous.

              • Posted January 17, 2019 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

                Not at all. I checked the history of the EUR vs GBP exchange rate and it fluctuates, of course, but not by a lot. Perhaps Greece was not the big influence you thought it was.

              • Serendipitydawg
                Posted January 17, 2019 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

                I don’t dispute the exchange rate, what is your point? The IMF and Eurozone have pumped billions into the Greek economy to keep it going. The resulting austerity measures that were imposed caused quite a kerfuffle a while back.

                Actually, I withdraw the question. I will simply wait and see what our administration tries to get past parliament and simply await my fate. I made my choice, if I am asked again I shall make the same choice. If the Tory government falls I will hope for a Green candidate so I can vote for someone, albeit harmless, otherwise I shall abstain.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted January 17, 2019 at 3:37 pm | Permalink


          “You must really think people are stupid. I for one would be really interested to know how Mr Putin influenced me to vote leave… Facebook? No. Twitter?”

          Vlad may not have influenced you at all, but nobody here has suggested he did. BUT we can be sure that Vlad & his paid malicious troll army did influence some portion of the electorate. Small example: Russian fake accounts Tweeted out 1,102 posts with the hashtag #ReasonsToLeaveEU on the day of the Brexit vote. SOURCE

          • Serendipitydawg
            Posted January 17, 2019 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

            I don’t dispute the existence of a troll army laying our propaganda in the various media, I do dispute the assertion that it had any major influence on the vote… except maybe adding the 2% that really p’sses people off, though I notice no link to the study that shows that.

            The only reason this is causing such bitterness is that the leave cammpaign won and the government has completely botched everything in the two years since A50. Paul Topping’s suggestion of a re-vote every few years highlights this… people got an answer they didn’t like and if it had been 52% to 48% in the other direction I suspect we would have all been told, “well, that’s all sorted. Shut up and stop bothering the grown ups”.

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted January 17, 2019 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

              I am only adding some balance to your statement that Vlad didn’t influence you – I’m saying that in this thread that’s a strange comment as YOU are not being put up as a mug of Putin! I see in your last comment that you agree that Russia did influence the Brexit vote, but you are of the opinion that the Trolls didn’t swing it more than two points.

              But I don’t think anybody has attempted to quantify the scale of the Russian interference so I’ll let your assertion [that it was marginal] stand uncontested…

              The study you mention… what study haven’t I linked to? You’ve lost me.

              • Serendipitydawg
                Posted January 17, 2019 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

                Sorry, I wasn’t serious about the 2%… that was throw-away, and possibly ill advised given that everything on this subject is taken so seriously.

                The mythical study, similarly so. No-one disputes the amount of misinformation and downright lying that went on in the run up to the vote, however, no-one has actally studied its effect on the result. There are certainly implications that those on the leave side are the dupes of Putin in the above, and I am in that group, so I extrapolated.

                I really didn’t expect leave to win the vote, I wasn’t taken in by Boris and his cronies and there was definitely an element of kicking Cameron, however, I am not not unhappy with the result. I knew the EU was going to make it hard, after all, if we wave them goodbye with a cheery wave and a sunny smile, who will be next…

                The brinkmanship as we head towards 29th March will be interesting, the Labour party may actually come out and take a position, just for starters.

            • Posted January 17, 2019 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

              Of course.

      • Posted January 17, 2019 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        He is surely happy, but I don’t think the will of people should be disregarded just because it happens to coincide with his will.
        Besides, he need not try to destabilize the West, because this is happening very well spontaneously.

  12. Posted January 17, 2019 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Have a good flight home! Don’t forget to get to the airport early due to TSA understaffing.

  13. Claudia Baker
    Posted January 17, 2019 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Beautiful picture of Hili. She looks like she has some “winter weight” right now. Just like my 10-year-old male ginger kitty. He’s not crazy about the cold Canadian weather and stays indoors, sleeping, when the temperature is -20, like today. In summer, he’s out at all hours, hunting. His favourite? Mousies of course. He doesn’t seem to go after anything else, including birds, chipmunks or squirrels. He slims down every summer, what with all that prowling around though.

    Like Darrelle says above, marbles were a very serious sport in my neighbourhood when I was a kid. It was like life or death if you lost some of your precious ones. We played them outside until well past dark, when our parents had to force us inside for bed.

  14. Posted January 17, 2019 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Jacks again – never played as a kid, but I do have memory of a Sesame Street segment about some kids MacGyvering a way (magnet, etc.) to recover one from down a grate in a street somewhere.

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      MacGyvering a way (magnet, etc.)

      My sister’s 1960’s jacks were all made of zinc or zinc/magnesium alloy, so I guess Sesame Street’s must have been somewhat better quality.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 1:33 pm | Permalink


      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted January 17, 2019 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        That’s my kind of girl… just happens to be carrying a massive horseshoe magnet 😀

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted January 17, 2019 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

          Can’t tie a not though!

          • Serendipitydawg
            Posted January 17, 2019 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

            No-one’s perfect 😎

      • rickflick
        Posted January 17, 2019 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        Cute. I can just imagine kids watching this and becoming bit by the science bug. 😎

      • Posted January 18, 2019 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        You’ve found it! It is weird to see it in colour!

        My parents had a B&W TV until I was in grade 7, so my early TV memories are mixed. (I had friends and relatives with colour TVs, but certain things I never saw in colour.)

  15. revelator60
    Posted January 17, 2019 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Readers of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels will know that SMERSH was Bond’s reoccurring nemesis, being the power behind the villains in Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, From Russia With Love, and Goldfinger. After Cold War tensions relaxed, Fleming phased out the SMERSH and introduced SPECTRE, a freelance terrorist organization.

  16. Steve Pollard
    Posted January 17, 2019 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Some very interesting thoughts above. I’m afraid I don’t share Jeremy’s cautious optimism. At the moment, May seems to be stuck within her self-imposed red lines. She really does seem to be running down the clock so that the only choice is between her deal and no deal. I think she would sooner allow no deal to happen than to concede on issues such as a second referendum.

    That may happen if MPs take control of the Brexit process, with the connivance of the Speaker. But that could create all sorts of uncertainties for the future working of Parliament itself: if future Governments cannot control the business of the House, we could be in for a heck of a lot of chaos.

    Interesting times!

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      Oh dear, that was supposed to be a response to Jeremy’s comment at #6 above. Apologies!

  17. Serendipitydawg
    Posted January 17, 2019 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    A heads-up for next Thursday: In our time will be discussing Emmy Noether.

    • Posted January 18, 2019 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      Interesting – not often that one hears about popular programs discussing mathematicians!

      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 11:30 am | Permalink

        This series ranges far and wide in its subject matter, it is particularly good at highlighting the contributions of female scientists who are so often overlooked. One of many is here discussing the contributions of women to enlightenment science – from 2010, but no worse for that.

        The program has an extensive archive, should you want to dip in and listen on a particular subject. I myself listened to a recent episode on a subject that I wouldn’t have otherwise even looked into and found the discussion interesting, despite the history of the classical Greeks being a closed book to me.

  18. John Ottaway
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 4:23 am | Permalink

    Re the Popeye cartoon, is “a dime’s worth of longitude”, slang for sex?

    It certainly seems to fit… (pun very much intended)

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 5:06 am | Permalink

      “Yeah – I’ll bet [Olive’s] still looking for a dime’s worth of longitude”

      A “dime’s worth” is an insignificant amount. Looking at the strip I take it these two guys are running from Olive Oyl & all the quote means to me is she’s a long way behind behind – she’s not made much progress.

      That’s my guess.

      • John Ottaway
        Posted January 21, 2019 at 3:47 am | Permalink

        That makes much more sense, I’ll accept that (and go wash my filthy mind out)

        Thank you

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