Monday: Hili dialogue

It’s a cold Monday in Chicago: January 28, 2019, and National Blueberry Pancake Day, celebrating a truly indigenous (and delicious) American food. It’s also Data Privacy Day, celebrated, as Wikipedia notes, “in the United States, Canada, India and 47 European countries.”

It’s a cold Monday, and snowing: when I walked to work the temperature was 1°F (-17°C), and it’s going to get worse. Look at the prediction for high and low temperatures for the coming week. Wednesday, the coldest day of all (with wind chill it may be the equivalent of -50°F), is when I’m supposed to go downtown and have my Global Entry interview so I can enter the US from overseas with no waiting. I will freeze, but it’s worth it.

Fahrenheit (highs and lows). Today will be warm (top yellow bit), with temperatures even exceeding the freezing point, but then Tuesday through Thursday will be DIRE (figures below):


Some scenes on my walk to work, taken with an iPhone camera.

Snow on the Robie House:

Snow on Rockefeller Chapel:

Snow on the Quad:

On this day in 814, Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor, died in Aachen, and was succeeded by his son Louis the Pious. And here’s a grinner; Wikipedia says that on this day in 1521, “the Diet of Worms begins, lasting until May 25. That’s a pretty dreadful way to lose weight, and it lasted four months! (No, don’t correct me.) On January 28, 1547, Henry VIII died at the age of 55, and was succeeded by Edward VI. Henry was in bad shape; as Wikipedia reports:

Late in life, Henry became obese, with a waist measurement of 54 inches (140 cm), and had to be moved about with the help of mechanical inventions. He was covered with painful, pus-filled boils and possibly suffered from gout. His obesity and other medical problems can be traced to the jousting accident in 1536 in which he suffered a leg wound. The accident re-opened and aggravated a previous injury he had sustained years earlier, to the extent that his doctors found it difficult to treat. The chronic wound festered for the remainder of his life and became ulcerated, thus preventing him from maintaining the level of physical activity he had previously enjoyed. The jousting accident is also believed to have caused Henry’s mood swings, which may have had a dramatic effect on his personality and temperament.

Painful, pus-filled boils!

On this day in 1754, Horace Walpole coined the word “serendipity” in a letter, and, on this day in 1813, Jane Austin published Pride and Prejudice in the UK.

Wikipedia reports this on January 28, 1896: “Walter Arnold of East Peckham, Kent, becomes the first person to be convicted of speeding. He was fined one shilling, plus costs, for speeding at 8 mph (13 km/h), thereby exceeding the contemporary speed limit of 2 mph (3.2 km/h).”  Two miles per hour is slower than walking speed! On January 28, 1933, Choudhry Ramat Ali Khan, a Pakistani nationalist, coined the term “Pakistan,” 14 years before partition. It’s stuck ever since. On this day in 1935, Iceland became the first “Western country” to legalize therapeutic abortion. But Russia had legalized it in 1919, so I guess they’re not considered Western. On this day in 1956, Elvis Presley made his first appearance on national television in the U.S. This wasn’t his famous hip-wiggling episode on the Ed Sullivan Show, but several appearances on CBS’s “Stage Show.”

On January 28, 1958, the Lego company patented its trademark plastic bricks, and they’re still compatible with bricks made today.  On this day in 1965, the current design for Canada’s Flag was chosen by Parliament. To wit:

Two decades later, the group “USA for Africa” recorded the single We Are the World to raise funds to alleviate the famine in Ethiopia. Finally, on January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated shortly after liftoff, killing all seven astronauts on board. I was at the University of Maryland, where Judith Resnik—every Jewish boy’s dream girl—had gotten her Ph.D., and there was great mourning. The names of the seven are given below.

Notables born on this day include Henry Morton Stanley (1841), Colette (1873), Arthur Rubenstein (1887), Jackson Pollock (1912),  Claes Oldenburg (1929), Alan Alda (1936), Rick Warren (1954), and Sarah McLachlan (1968).

Those who died on January 28 include Charlemagne (814; see above), Henry VIII (1547, see above), W.B. Yeats (1939), the crew of the Challenger (1986: Gregory Jarvis, Christa McAuliffe, Ronald McNair, Elison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Dick Scobee, and Michael J. Smith), Joseph Brodsky (1996; Nobel Laureate), and Paul Kantner (2016).

Several readers sent me a link to the BBC’s sad obituary for Trevor the Duck, killed by a d*g on the island of Niue. The blood of that duck is on the hands of the New Zealand government, who refused to take him even after I offered to pay. (Click on screenshot.)

This is cold comfort given that New Zealand could have saved Trevor’s life:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Editor Hili is napping (surprise!):

A: Can you stop sleeping and give me some good advice?
Hili: I see clearly only when my eyes are closed.
In Polish:
Ja: Czy możesz przestać spać i dać mi dobrą radę?
Hili: Jasno widzę tylko wtedy jak mam zamknięte oczy.

Tweets from Heather Hastie. Here’s a mechanical bug, not CGI (“computer generated imagery”). I bet your kid would like a toy like this; imagine what a hit it would be at school!

A kakapo kills a thieving petrel. Those parrots may be wingless, but they’re not defenseless.

Tweets from Grania. This first one is about one of her favorite topics: interspecific love in animals. Those cats may be atheists or Christians, but they’re not Jews or Muslims.

Can you believe that the fricking POPE tweeted this? What “yes” is he talking about? Affirmative consent for copulating with God?

This is a day too late to celebrate Mr. McGee, but the music remains Cajun: joyful and danceable.

A beautiful jellyfish, and I trust you can make out the Spanish:

Two Scottish Fold cats doing the “machine-gunning” call (turn sound up). I know what the proximal stimulus is for this, but whether and how it’s adaptive remains a mystery:

Can this be the pigeon equivalent of Snowball the Cockatoo? Sadly, the song to which he boogies isn’t ideologically pure.

Tweets from Matthew. Neither he nor I can ever get enough murmurations:

This is infinitely better than just ranting about the guy:

I think this wonderful compilation deserves TWEET OF THE MONTH:


  1. Doug
    Posted January 28, 2019 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    re: the Pope:

    People have recently said that God raped the Virgin Mary when he impregnated her, since she wasn’t in a position to say “No.” Apologists have been making a big deal out of the fact that she said “Thy will be done,” which they argue shows consent. Although considering the power differential between the two, can such a relationship be truly consensual?

    • Posted January 28, 2019 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      LOL. And it’s not ENTHUSIASTIC consent; it’s the equivalent of Mary saying, “Whatever, God. . . “

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 28, 2019 at 8:03 am | Permalink

        There’s also the age difference to consider.

        May-December relationships are one thing, but May-Eternity?

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted January 29, 2019 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

          May is probably feeling a bit of “From Here to Eternity” at the moment.

          (That’s Theresa May, the scapegoat on the altar of Brexit ; hint : it never ends well for the goat.)

      • Posted January 28, 2019 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        And besides, she was not asked to choose, just told what would be. I have written about this:

    • Posted January 28, 2019 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      I wonder if Mary was the first woman God asked to be Jesus’ mother?

      • Doug
        Posted January 28, 2019 at 9:06 am | Permalink

        There’s the rub: God doesn’t ask–Mary is INFORMED that she is going to be impregnated [First chapter of Luke] and that’s that. It’s already been decided.

    • Deodand
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      I’ve had a few people claim to me that US universities are teaching that because ‘men have all the power’ consent is impossible.

      I am hoping that it’s not true because that is the equivalent of claiming that ‘all sex is rape’…

    • Mike Deschane
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      Pliny-the-in-between posted “Abrahamic Traditons” back on 01/16/18. Apropo here.

    • Posted January 28, 2019 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      *Recently*? I think Bertrand Russell makes this point somewhere.

  2. Serendipitydawg
    Posted January 28, 2019 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    On this day in 1754, Horace Walpole coined the word “serendipity” in a letter

    Thanks Horace!

  3. Michael Fisher
    Posted January 28, 2019 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Jane Austin, Daphne du Motor, Elizabeth Gasket, Dorothy NoParking 🙂

  4. Simon Hayward
    Posted January 28, 2019 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Price and Prejudice? Austin knew value when she saw it 🙂

    Off to blow snow so I can get from the garage to the street, I’ll probably have to repeat the process this evening to get back in. Getting bored with this winter…

    • darrelle
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 7:40 am | Permalink

      Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Fun Movie. I liked it better than the book.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune is always shopping for the right price.

  5. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted January 28, 2019 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Funny, I would believe “Price and Prejudice” was published in US.

    On the tweeted video collection, you can’t “explain” jokes in too much detail. Though Disney’s food jokes are in bad taste!

    a truly indigenous (and delicious) American food

    I dunno, my favorite (Swedish) pancake condiment as a kid was blueberry jam.

    Forms of pancakes are believed to be as old as grain harvesting is, and blueberries are indigenous to Europe. (Though I gather the high growing varieties that doesn’t require harvesting in the wild are North American: .)

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 7:40 am | Permalink

      By not updating a 2nd time I was ninja’ed on the book…

    • Posted January 28, 2019 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      Blueberry jam on pancakes doesn’t make them blueberry pancakes! And, of course, the comestible must be topped with an American (and Canadian) product: good maple syrup.

  6. Lurker111
    Posted January 28, 2019 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    In the Arthur series, Arthur has a pet dog, Pal, but a friend, Binky, who is a bulldog. Also, there’s a cat as a pet as well as another classmate who’s a cat.

    Trivia: Art Garfunkel got a few appearances as the singing moose.

    • Lurker111
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      Oh–and if you or your kid is a true Arthur fan, you know what you have to do to scare off a bear. 🙂

  7. Barney
    Posted January 28, 2019 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    The ‘Like a Roger Stone’ lyric made me think of another – ‘Dogs’ by Pink Floyd, applying it to Trump and his campaign employees:

    And when you loose control, you’ll reap the harvest you have sown
    And as the fear grows, the bad blood slows and turns to stone
    And it’s too late to lose the weight you used to need to throw around
    So have a good drown, as you go down, all alone
    Dragged down by the stone

    I gotta admit that I’m a little bit confused
    Sometimes it seems to me as if I’m just being used
    Gotta stay awake, gotta try and shake off this creeping malaise
    If I don’t stand my own ground, how can I find my way out of this maze?

    Deaf, dumb, and blind, you just keep on pretending
    That everyone’s expendable and no-one has a real friend
    And it seems to you the thing to do would be to isolate the winner
    And everything’s done under the sun
    And you believe at heart, everyone’s a killer

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      I appreciated the allusion to Dylan but I had to seach the interwebs for Roger Stone!

      He either hasn’t made it into UK media or I haven’t been paying attention 😀

      • Barney
        Posted January 28, 2019 at 8:27 am | Permalink

        He wasn’t reported on that much in the UK until his arrest, but he certainly was then, eg

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted January 28, 2019 at 8:46 am | Permalink

        You haven’t been paying attention to the US political scene – he’s been around since The Flood [Nixon]. Weird guy who worships himself – discusses himself in the 3rd person & dresses immaculately. He’s a regency dandy who tones it down to not frighten the horses [& the stiff-arsed religious repubs] – reminds me of a guy with a successful international chain of hair salons.

        Supposedly straight, but I would bet he’d shag anything.

        Likes Jaguars, Yorkshire Terriers & gossip. Too frighteningly unpredictable, untrust worthy & arrogant to have real friends. Writes books that don’t flatter his past associates, but still manages to find mugs to do business with him.

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted January 28, 2019 at 8:57 am | Permalink

          I know, it is worrying! The trouble is that there are so many of them that they all blend into one mass or ordure, unless they happen to be awarded the Nobel peace prize.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted January 28, 2019 at 9:00 am | Permalink

        And looking at the Roger Stone picture, I’ve realised he’s copied the style of Le Corbusier, the 30s Swiss-French architect. Wot a W+Anchor! Here’s Corb:

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 28, 2019 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Wait’ll ol’ Roger Stone looks into the vacuum of Mueller’s eyes, realizes he’s not buying any alibis, and says “Would you like to make a deal?”

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      Don’t think there will be any deal for this guy. Loved the poster. He is such a slippery lying bastard his flipping would likely be a flop. I think he will get 25 years for his part. He may be who taught Trump how to lie. One of his lies to Mueller was that he never corresponded with whoever they were pointing to. Then they had 30 emails in one day from him to the guy.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted January 28, 2019 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        (As said elsewhere:)
        If you try to intimidate a witness by threatening to kill his dog,
        and have a portrait of Nixon tattooed on your back (!),
        you just might be successful if you plead diminished capacity.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 29, 2019 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        He may be who taught Trump how to lie.

        Not one (or more) of Trump’s biologically near family (no judgement about emotional closeness), or his tutors and education staff?

  9. DrBrydon
    Posted January 28, 2019 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    I’ve always referred to that cat sounds as “chittering.”

  10. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 28, 2019 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    The snowfall is already picking up here in Southern Ontario. It’s an Alberta clipper that is bringing the weather change & I see the pressure will change drastically, which leaves me worried about migraines — I already got a bad one on Saturday because of the weather change.

    I’ll probably leave work early if things look bad as this weather is supposed to affect the commute this evening, though I noticed the traffic seemed a bit lighter & the parking lot was less full so perhaps people decided to work from home today in anticipation of the weather.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      Weird to read about winter, cold and snow. It’s summer here, today I suffered 40 °C, that is 104 °F.

      [I prefer the °C scale, because it is based on the states of water (at atmospheric pressure) I guess that water is about the most important molecule for life. Well, to be honest, also because I’m used to it. What is °F scale based on?]

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted January 28, 2019 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

        I never learned Fahrenheit.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 29, 2019 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

        What is °F scale based on?

        I’ve heard different answers. Some say that M.Fahrenheit’s zero point was the coldest temperature you can achieve with ice and salt (“table salt”, sodium chloride) , which is about right, and blood temperature as 100 degrees – which is also about right. Another is that he used the boiling point of water as an upper point, and the freezing point as a lower point, decided arbitrarily (?) that these opposites should be 180 degrees apart (like on a circle) and then shuggled the numbers to get blood temperature at 100 degrees. Unless he actually wrote it down and published it … well, Wikipedia says there are several accounts, and it’s only of historical interest outside America and dependencies, so “Meh”.

        • Barney
          Posted January 29, 2019 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

          Wikipedia points to Fahrenheit writing in 1724 that his scale was defined by body temperature as 96 degrees; and the same also has a translation from Dutch (but not the original Dutch) of a letter he wrote in 1717 saying at first he used the 22.5 for body heat that Ole Romer used; then multiplied that by 4 to use 90 (which gives the freezing point of pure water as 30), then went to 96 – which Wikipedia suggests was to get 64 degrees between the 2, giving easy divisions on a scale.

  11. rickflick
    Posted January 28, 2019 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    The Robie House has a sign on the lawn. It looks like a real estate sign, as if it’s for sale or scheduled to be demolished to put up an apartment building. Tell me it ain’t so.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      Never happening! The sign says “OPEN FOR TOURS”. Chicago Theological Seminary, who owned the land, have tried twice to demolish it but backed off – the 2nd time F.L.W. himself [bow in his direction on my knees] turned up & said “It all goes to show the danger of entrusting anything spiritual to the clergy.”

      I would like see a family take up residence – it’s not of a scale suited to gawkers & there’s some good 3D VR tours available of properties like the Robie House. I pro 3D exploration would be great [I’ve seen one, but not up to scratch].

      • rickflick
        Posted January 28, 2019 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        Well, that’s a relief. I think. Does the clergy still own the land?
        “It all goes to show the danger of entrusting anything spiritual to the clergy.”
        That rings so true. I’m thinking of the Pope’s comment on Africa during the AIDS epidemic. “No condoms. Not even now. You’ll just have to die. Because Jesus”, (not an exact quote).

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted January 28, 2019 at 10:29 am | Permalink

          The university appears to still own the property & land, but handed over responsibility for all things to a trust who are in the process of restoration. It’s a bit muddy how all this works. There’s a lot of potential in licensing FLW designs of windows, lighting & furniture – these are integral to all FLW designs & it’s underexploited by those responsible for FLW’s heritage. Shame. The FLW page at Amazon is naff.

          • rickflick
            Posted January 28, 2019 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

            Wow. 9 pages of books on FLW. He deserves a Pulitzer.

  12. CAS
    Posted January 28, 2019 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Jerry,It could be worse. Here are Fahrenheit temperatures for Fargo ND. We have quite a few animals including turkeys and white tailed jack rabbits(pictures later) that survive these sorts of temperatures with winds that are typically 15mph. Since we have a foot or more of crusty snow it’s not an easy place to survive and find food! It’s been a relatively warm year up to now with only 4 nights below -10F. Global warming!

    1/26 1/27 1/28 1/29 1/30
    High (F) -5 -5 5 -15 -20
    Low (F) -20 -11 -19 -34 -33

  13. Posted January 28, 2019 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    I know things are cold out east, but I’d like to make note of unusual weather out west. Vancouver, B.C. has a very mild climate, which means in the winter you could go sailing in the morning, and then go up the local mountains to ski in the afternoon. I took my kids skiing yesterday, and was surprised to see that in January, there was no snow at the bottom of the mountain. Usually there is a few cm of snow in the parking lot, and around the entrance to the gondola, but there was none. It was only about halfway up the gondola ride that snow appeared. Even though there was a reasonable amount of snow on the slopes (some man-made no doubt), the exit from the gondola station was also snow-free. I realize it is an El Nino year, but this was still unusual. Normally ski season lasts until March, but I’ll be surprised if it makes it past the end of February if the weather continues as it has.

    Incidentally, I’ve lived in the Vancouver area since 1985, and it has always snowed in the city within 2 weeks of my birthday (Feb. 21), except for the last 2 years. I expect this new trend to continue this year. No doubt it is climate change related, and that the forest fires will be bad again this summer.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      It is the duty of every Vancouver citizen to share pictures of spring blossoms to the rest of Canada while we freeze. 😉

      • Posted January 28, 2019 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        I noticed tulip shoots were coming up last week.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      It has been extremely mild here in Michigan for most of the winter, only now has it turned to ‘normal’, with some promise that it is here to stay for a while.

  14. ivan
    Posted January 28, 2019 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    This is the week you should have gone to Hawai’i.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      My friend just returned to the Yukon from Hawaii a couple weeks ago. She was welcomed home to -44 C temperatures with a -51C windchill.

  15. Posted January 28, 2019 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Regarding Mary’s supposed “Yes”…if it’s not possible for legitimate, unforced consent for sex to be given by a subordinate to a supervisor in a business, professional, or medical setting (patient/doctor) because of the inescapable influence of differences in power, how could it be possible for Mary to have honestly consented to anything with respect to a deity? Not that it really happened or anything, but still…

  16. Posted January 28, 2019 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    The dancing pigeon took dance lessons at the posh dance studio owned and operated by Snowball the Dancing Cockatoo(R) in New York City. When Snowball was asked his opinion of the pigeon’s dancing prowess he stated indifferently, “Meh. He’s tollerable.”

  17. Posted January 28, 2019 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Notice that the pope is also trying to be “relevant” by talking up social networks and that sort of thing. Ick.

    • Zetopan
      Posted January 31, 2019 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      This pope is sure “modern”: still peddling Adam and Eve, miracles and demonic possession among numerous other routine catholic church absurdities!

  18. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted January 29, 2019 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Painful, pus-filled boils!

    Wasn’t that one of Job’s “comforts”?

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