Monday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

Professor Ceiling Cat is BACK! Many thanks to Grania for doing the Hili dialogues (and the Gillette ad post) in my absence. Thanks as well to all the readers who said nice things on my tenth-anniversary post, and to those who sent me Coynezaa presents, which I didn’t expect. One person sent me a passel of Cadbury Crunchie bars from the UK, which are terrific and I don’t know who that is. Please email me so I can thank you properly! Ditto for CM who sent me a lovely cat book, but whose address I don’t have.

It’s wicked cold in Chicago, with the ambient temperature 8º F (-13º C), and -1º F (-18ºC) with the wind. And there was more snow.

Today is Monday, January 21, 2019, and National Clam Chowder Day, which to me means New England style rather than the debased, tomato-based concoction called “Manhattan Clam Chowder”. It’s also National Hugging Day, invented in 1986. If you’ve hugged someone, weigh in below.

It’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the U.S. celebrating the birthday of the civil rights leader. He was actually born on January 15 (1929), but Ronald Reagan proclaimed the holiday to be on the third Monday in January. It’s a federal holiday, meaning that there’s no mail and that banks as well as most Federal offices are closed. Here’s today’s Google Doodle honoring King, who was assassinated in 1968 at the age of only 39.

It was a rather thin day in history. On January 21, 1789, according to Wikipedia, “The first American novel, The Power of Sympathy or the Triumph of Nature Founded in Truth by William Hill Brown, is printed in Boston.” I have never read it; has anyone? Exactly four years later, after being convicted of treason, Louis XVI, King of France, was executed by the guillotine.

On this day in 1908, New York City, via passage of the Sullivan Ordinance, made it illegal for women to smoke in public. One woman was convicted and fined for flouting the misogynistic law, but the mayor vetoed that law two weeks later. Here’s part of the NYT story (full pdf here):

On this day in 1954, the world’s first nuclear powered submarine, the USS Nautilus, was launched in Connecticut by Mamie Eisenhower, the First Lady. I have vague recollections of boarding that sub in Greece in 1955 or 1956, but I’m probably wrong. Although I don’t have a video of the launching, here’s President Truman participating in the keel-laying ceremony in 1953:

Speaking of firsts (and lasts) in transportation, there were two more innovations on this day that went bust. In 1976, the first commercial flight on the Concorde began with routes from London to Bahrain and also from Paris to Rio. The plane flies no more. And exactly five years later, production of the Delorean DMC-12 sports car began in Northern Ireland. They stopped making them 2 years later. It was distinctive with its gull-wing doors, and here’s a model from its last year. They’re probably worth a fortune now.


Notables born on this day include John C. Frémont (1813), Stonewall Jackson (1824), Grigori Rasputin (1869), Christian Dior (1905), Telly Savalas and Paul Scofield (both 1922), Wolfman Jack (1938), Jack Nicklaus (1940), Plácido Domingo and Richie Havens (both 1941), Jeff Koons (1955), Cat Power (1972), and Emma Bunton (1976). Rasputin (the Man who Refused to Die) is one of history’s more interesting figures; here’s a very brief video biography:

Those who died on January 21 include Vladimir Lenin (1924), Lytton Strachey (1932), George Orwell (1950), Cecil B. DeMille (1959), James Beard (1985), Susan Strasberg (1999), and Peggy Lee (2002).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Her Roundness demands the impossible:

A: What would you like to get?
Hili: A star from the sky.
In Polish:
Ja: Co byś chciała?
Hili: Gwiazdkę z nieba.

Leon’s still hiking with his staff in southern Poland, and sends us the dialogue below. Somehow I think he’s not as happy with the snow as he was in previous years.

Leon: I think I’m more comfortable with the fluff in my pillow.

In Polish: Chyba jednak bardziej mi odpowiada puch w poduszce.

Pi and Loki on my last day in Hawaii, imploring me not to leave by sleeping on my luggage. I miss these boys.

A tweet sent by reader Barry, featuring a greedy red squirrel:

Tweets from Matthew. First up: cat versus hungry turtle:

The remarkable sociality of fire ants:

Bob Jones University should get this right; electricity may come from God, but we know its proximate cause, and it’s not the Sun:

Tweets from Grania. I wouldn’t mind a job as Baby Bat Cleaner:

I never get tired of looking at murmurations:

Some (but not all) kitties love their brushes:

Proof that seagulls either can’t read or can read but don’t care:

At first I thought this was a burst, but it wasn’t:

What a cat!


  1. Posted January 21, 2019 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    I thought all Federal offices are closed anyway due to Trump?!

    • Derec Avery
      Posted January 21, 2019 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      No, not all federal offices are closed. There are some federal employees forced to work without pay as they are deemed “essential” (whatever that means) and some departments/offices had spending authorizations passed before everything stalled so they remain open as they are funded for at least a while.

      Then there are some like Nancy Pelosi who are still collecting on her $235,500/year salary as Speaker of the House that have nothing to lose in prolonging the financial agony of the common federal employee simply because she hates Pres. Trump. Go figure.

      • Posted January 21, 2019 at 8:21 am | Permalink

        It’s called not negotiating with terrorists.

        Pelosi’s House has passed legislation to open the government — legislation that was previously passed by the Senate unanimously. Responsibility for the shutdown rests squarely with Trump (who publicly took credit for it) and McConnell (who won’t bring the House legislation for a vote because he knows it would pass).

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted January 21, 2019 at 8:30 am | Permalink

          Thank you for that. Cannot believe anyone but a Trumper could think otherwise. Where is the free will to think?

        • Barbara Radcliffe
          Posted January 21, 2019 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

          How is it that McConnell has the power to stop the legislation from coming before the House for a vote? Sorry but I don’t understand the rules. I agree that giving in to Mr. Trump would open the floodgates to more such temper tantrums.

          • Posted January 21, 2019 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

            The Senate majority leader has control of which bills are brought for a vote.

            By the way, the Senate, like the Electoral College, is a fundamentally undemocratic institution and should be done away with, but good luck with that.

            • Barbara Radcliff
              Posted January 21, 2019 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

              Thank you. So McConnell stops it coming for a vote in the Senate, not the House. That makes sense. I agree about the Electoral College and the Senate, but as you say they are likely here to stay.

      • Posted January 21, 2019 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        The Democrat House of Representatives has already passed a bill to reopen the government. I’m not sure what else Pelosi can do.

        One thing she certainly can’t do is give in to Trump’s demand for money for his useless wall. If she did that, he’d be closing the government every time sane voices said no to him.

      • rickflick
        Posted January 21, 2019 at 10:40 am | Permalink

        Pelosi is independently wealthy. She doesn’t need the salary. She’s got nothing to lose but respect, and she’s got quite a lot of that as well.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 21, 2019 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Nothing like cats to get through the day. Leon is right, the older you get the less attractive is the snow.

  3. David Harper
    Posted January 21, 2019 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    “Electricity is a mystery. Nobody has ever observed it or heard it or felt it.”

    Well, try sticking your tongue in a wall socket. You’ll definitely feel it then 🙂

    • Posted January 21, 2019 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      And it isn’t a mystery.

      The same t-shirt that responds to the “magnets, how the (&*)( do they work?” applies!

    • Bob Bottemiller
      Posted January 21, 2019 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      I knew somebody would beat me with a reference to “F*cking Magnets, How Do They Work?”. The Insane Clown Posse will never be heard at BJU.

  4. Posted January 21, 2019 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Deloreana aren’t with as much as you might think — around $30-50K. They were terrible cars. Now if they have the optional flux capacitor it’s a different story.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 22, 2019 at 5:47 am | Permalink


      They looked like a supercar, went like a taxi. And reputedly the build quality was poor.

      Probably half their market price now is thanks to ‘Back to the Future’.

      If their performance matched their looks they’d be double the price.


  5. BJ
    Posted January 21, 2019 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    It’s often hilarious when you go back and read local laws that were made back in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. There are some absolutely bonkers laws that were passed, and the one posted here is pretty funny. One can just imagine the committee discussing the law:

    Lawmaker 1: “Women can’t smoke in public! It’s a manly thing!”

    Lawmaker 2: “No, it’s because it’s unbecoming for a woman to smoke in public!”

    Lawmaker 3: “No, I think it’s because women should smell like perfume, not cigarettes!”

    Lawmaker 4: “No, it’s because if they smell like cigarettes, I find that sexually confusing because my boyfr — I mean, because, um, because then they don’t…smell like…women? I totally love how women smell. It’s, like, so hot and stuff. Right guys? You know what I mean? Yeah…”

    Lawmakers 1-3 and 5-12: *murmurs*

    Lawmaker 3 to Lawmaker 7: *whispers* “Have you noticed how much time Lawmaker 4 spends at the bathhouse? Why is he always there? And why doesn’t he ever smell like he just bathed when he comes back? It doesn’t make sense.”

    Lawmaker 12: “OK, but we all agree that we should pass the law, yeah?. All in favor, say ‘silliness.'”

    Everyone: “Silliness!”

    Lawmaker 4: “Now that that’s out of the way, can we talk about making a new law to further demonstrate to the public our moral objection to sodomy? Because I think it’s definitely wrong. Totally. I swear, I’m like, soooo into women…”

  6. DrBrydon
    Posted January 21, 2019 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    I know how that squirrel feels whenever I am at a Chinese or Indian buffet.

  7. Christopher
    Posted January 21, 2019 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    I hope you enjoy the book. When I read it last year you immediately came to mind as someone who might enjoy it. C. W. Gusewelle was one of my favorites. I miss his Sunday columns. He did a few things for our local PBS station, KCPT, that are worth a watch and are probable easily found online. I don’t know how well known he is outside of the reach of the Kc Star but I think he deserved a wider audience.


  8. RPGNo1
    Posted January 21, 2019 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    “And exactly five years later, production of the Delorean DMC-12 sports car began in Northern Ireland.”

    The most famous car (in my view) due to “Back to the Future”.

    Go Marty, go Doc! 🙂

    • Posted January 21, 2019 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      I learned from this post that Doc wasn’t actually terribly behind the times with his choice of cars. (I thought DeLoreans were from the 1960s or something.)

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted January 21, 2019 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      If you do decide to buy one, make sure that it has a working hover conversion AND a Mr Fusion – those flux capacitors are real power hogs and you can’t always rely on a lightnening strike or plutonium supplies.

      I still think that 1.21 JiggaWatts is the energy dissipated in a performance of Riverdance.

      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted January 21, 2019 at 2:15 pm | Permalink


        I don’t know where that came from… my brain definitely said lightning.

  9. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 21, 2019 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    He [MLK] was actually born on January 15 (1929), but Ronald Reagan proclaimed the holiday to be on the third Monday in January.

    The Gipper was never much one for details (or the civil-rights struggle) anyhow.

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 21, 2019 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    … here’s President Truman participating in the keel-laying ceremony in 1953 …

    I’m thinkin’ maybe that was ’52, since it looks like warm weather, and Ike was inaugurated in January 1953.

  11. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 21, 2019 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    “Electricity is a mystery. No one has ever observed it or heard it or felt it.”

    Fuckin’ magnets
    How do they work?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 22, 2019 at 5:52 am | Permalink

      I’ve certainly felt it a few times. Don’t particularly want to feel it ever again, either.

      “We can … feel only what electricity does“. Errm, doesn’t that apply to anything we feel?


  12. revelator60
    Posted January 21, 2019 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    The electricity silliness reminds of “Look Around You” on the topic of birds:

  13. John Conoboy
    Posted January 21, 2019 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    I had forgotten that today was a federal holiday. Now I am wondering why a USPS truck drove up to the house a short time ago and delivered a package.

  14. Roger
    Posted January 21, 2019 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    The only thing seagulls care about is deliberately disobeying signs.

  15. Serendipitydawg
    Posted January 21, 2019 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Church of England: Contactless collection payments trialled

    You would have thought that the congregation would carry cash specifically and wouldn’t need contactless payments.

    Churchgoers picked a sum from four options decided by the Church, before using a card or smartphone to pay.

    Could just be that they want to get them giving more to compensate for the lack of punters.

    Finally, it is good to see that nominative determinism is thriving

    SumUp’s co-founder Marc-Alexander Christ said it was “an amazing example of tradition meeting technology”.

  16. Posted January 22, 2019 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    Professor Emeritus Jerry Coyne
    Baby Bat Cleaner


  17. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted January 22, 2019 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Proof that seagulls either can’t read or can read but don’t care:

    Or the seagull is a Welsh speaker on a day trip.

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