Thursday: Hili dialogue

It’s Thursday, February 7, 2019, and National Fettuccine Alfredo Day, honoring my favorite pasta. It’s also National Send a Card to a Friend Day. Will an email do? I will be emailing several friends.

On this day in 1497, the real “Bonfire of the vanities” took place as the followers of Girolamo Savonarola burned cosmetics, books, and works of art. The odious friar himself was executed the next year. On February 7, 1898, Èmile Zola began his trial for libel for publishing the famous defense of Dreyfus, “J’Accuse!” (Zola accused higher-ups in the French Army of perverting justice and anti-semitism. Zola was convicted but fled to England; when he returned, he accepted a pardon under the new government. Here’s the famous accusation:

I didn’t know we had a plague epidemic in the U.S., but, as Wikipedia recounts, it was on this day in 1900 when “a Chinese immigrant in San Francisco falls ill to bubonic plague in the first plague epidemic in the continental United States. 121 people caught the disease, and all but two died. 

On this day in 1940, Walt Disney released his second full-length animated film, Pinocchio. (Do you know the first one?) Here’s a scene in which Pinocchio goes off to school, and there’s a CAT!

On February 7, 1962, the U.S. ban of all Cuban imports began, including Cuban cigars. But before he signed the bill, cigar lover JFK asked Pierre Salinger (or so I recall) to go out and buy a huge supply of H. Upmann Cuban cigars that would be legal. The ban is still in effect, making it tough to get the world’s best stogies.

On this day in 1986, the Duvalier dynasty ended in Haiti after 28 years as Jean-Claude Duvalier fled the country. “Baby Doc” died in 2014. On this day in 1997, NeXT merged with Apple Computer, paving the way for the Mac OS X.  And an embarrassing statistic: it was on this day just six years ago when the state of Mississippi became the last state to officially certify the Thirteenth Amendment prohibiting slavery. (The amendment was passed by Congress in 1865!).  Finally, and this again from Wikipedia, in 2014 “scientists announce[d] that the Happisburgh footprints in Norfolk, England, date back to more than 800,000 years ago [JAC: the paper says 750,000- 1 million years], making them the oldest known hominid footprints outside Africa.”

Here are two photographs of the footprint hollows taken from the PLoS ONE paper in which they were published; the paper’s caption is below the photo. The prints, attributed to Homo antecessor, were destroyed by the tides two weeks after they were uncovered. 

Figure 5. Photographs of Area A at Happisburgh. a. Footprint surface looking north-east. b. Detail of footprint surface. Photos: Martin Bates.

Notables born on this day include Henri Fuseli (1741), John Deere (1804), Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867), Alfred Adler (1870), G. H. Hardy (1877), Sinclair Lewis (1885), Eubie Blake (1887), Dock Boggs (1898), Buster Crabbe (1908), Matt Ridley (1958), Chris Rock (1965), and Ashton Kutcher (1978). Here’s what is probably Fuseli’s most famous painting, “The Nightmare” (1781):

Those who crossed the Rainbow Bridge on February 7 include Henry Steinway (1871), Josef Mengele (1979), Doug Henning (2000), and Blossom Dearie (2009).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili makes a pronouncement:

Hili: Traditional books and magazines are friendlier to cats than electronic media.
Malgorzata: You have been saying that for years.

JAC: I’m jealous!

In Polish:
Hili: Tradycyjne książki i czasopisma są bardziej przyjazne dla kotów niż media elektroniczne.
Małgorzata: Od lat to powtarzasz.

A tweet from reader Barry: the world’s largest rodent is also the world’s chillest rodent.

From Heather Hastie, who owns a cat that bangs on the door when it’s hungry (the cat below is not her cat):

An adorable (goat) kid; Heather says they’re like “human babies with hooves.”

That IS a unit!

I’m curious why the cat spaces the socks so evenly:

A cat destined to be spoiled its whole life:

Ultima Thule, the planetesimal that’s about 32 X 17 km:

Tweets from Matthew. Stay tuned on this one. Could it be the thylacine (Tasmanian “tiger”)???

Let the damn cat in, for crying out loud!

You could make this a further recursion by going to this spot and reading this tweet:



  1. Posted February 7, 2019 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    The Friar got fried?!

    capybaras can give nasty bites…

  2. salonirose
    Posted February 7, 2019 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Obscurum Per Obscurius.

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 7, 2019 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    it was on this day just six years ago when the state of Mississippi became the last state to officially certify the Thirteenth Amendment prohibiting slavery.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted February 7, 2019 at 8:37 am | Permalink


    • Randall Schenck
      Posted February 7, 2019 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      Forget about Mississippi. Question – Do we have enough racist in America to put a racist in the White House. Answer- Apparently, yes.

  4. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 7, 2019 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    THere are various internet based card services that let you essentially send a card by snail mail from the comfort of your phone. I haven’t used any, as they have various snags – but the time has come – cards in the mail without fussing about with lines in the post office, buying new books of stamps, forgetting to put the card in the slot, missing the birthdays …

    As for the footprint: how many precious artifacts/fossils have been lost to earthquakes, excavators, waste dumps, landslides, and ineptness?

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted February 7, 2019 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      How do you sign and write a personal note on a card ordered on the Internet or by phone and sent by the company? The reason I send cards and notes by snail mail is because I want to personalize the communication with a handwritten note and my signature, not a computer generated ‘handwritten’ note or signature.

      Someone I know used to send me email cards. I know it’s the thought that counts but it sure wasn’t the same as receiving something in an envelope in the mail, hand signed and all that. None of the bells and whistles of email cards made up for the lack.

      One needn’t have to go to the post office tomail an ordinary letter or card. You can give them to your mail carrier. Stamps at the grocery or drugstore. I buy cards I like when I see them, have a stockpile. Really nice cards I’ll take to the copy shop and make color copies on card stock. Sometimes I make cards by hand. And sometimes just a note is fine, no card needed.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted February 7, 2019 at 11:54 am | Permalink

        Yes, handwritten & physically touched by the sender makes all the dif.

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted February 7, 2019 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

          Replying in general about the cards

          Phone has camera
          Take picture of writttn note
          Send card
          Maybe there’s Apple Pencil apps – don’t know.

          That’s the idea. This tangible card business is tiresome. Yet, there’s still demand for tangible cards.

    • Posted February 7, 2019 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      I wonder why the fossils’ discoverers did not remove some to preserve them.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted February 7, 2019 at 11:50 am | Permalink

        Because of the softness of the sediment – this is rain & wind lashed British North Sea coast. But that said, I agree with you – after 3D digitally recording the area [which was done], and collecting sediment samples…

        …a trench could have been dug around a footprint & a hard sheet slid through beneath & then boxed at the sides & lifted out. That is bearing in mind that a cubic foot of wet sand weighs around the same as a young adult at 130lbs. [Can’t be bovvered to convert to new money]

        There’s a lot of these soft sediment fossils knocking about with lives of only a year or two usually. The policy, looking at Google, seems to be to record in the case of footprints.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted February 7, 2019 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

          …a trench could have been dug around a footprint & a hard sheet slid through beneath & then boxed at the sides & lifted out

          … destroying what is in the next layer down.
          Archaeologists do do things like this, but very very rarely, because establishing a safe context to cut at is really difficult and very time consuming. Which is not applicable to “rescue archaeology”. This site in particular was threatened with destruction at every tide, so they had to operate fast.
          Such operations are also eye-wateringly expensive.
          There are a number of other “ephemeral” sites of footprints around England’s coast, many of which are eroding increasingly rapidly as sea levels rise (and separately, the coasts from about Berwick round to Barrow subside while the Scottish costs rise). The cost of protecting even one of them would beggar several counties worth of archaeological departments for years. The same argument was had, vigorously, over the Seahenge construction (no, it’s not a henge) a short distance along the coast. The whole coast is eroding. It’s not going to be saved except around towns.
          I saw a figure not long ago for how much the Tanzanian government had to spend to protect the Laetoli footprints. It was multiple millions of dollars. That came out of the rest of their archaeological budget.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted February 9, 2019 at 12:39 am | Permalink

            “The same argument was had, vigorously, over the Seahenge construction (no, it’s not a henge) a short distance along the coast.”

            Well, that wasn’t just cost, there were arguments by neopagans who claimed some sort of ‘spiritual ownership’ which is self-evident nonsense, everyone knows they have no more connection with the builders of those sites than anybody else. Idiots.

            They’re fully entitled to hold their daft ceremonies, but they are not entitled (and shouldn’t be allowed) to get in the way of finding or saving archaeological information.


  5. Serendipitydawg
    Posted February 7, 2019 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Charles Dickens was born 7 February 1812 … he’s moderately notable 🙂

  6. rickflick
    Posted February 7, 2019 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    “…plague epidemic in the U.S.”

    Plague is still with us. It occurs in numerous wild animals such as birds and rodents. Transfer to humans is rare. “…an average of seven human plague cases have been reported each year.” If you find a dead animal don’t pick it up with your bare hands.

    • Posted February 8, 2019 at 4:54 am | Permalink

      oops! Said the man with a festering fox head!

      • rickflick
        Posted February 8, 2019 at 7:03 am | Permalink

        Tempting isn’t it.

  7. Monika
    Posted February 7, 2019 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Awwwww look at Hili, she’s making biscuits. Humans make the best pillows, and they are self-heating too.

  8. Posted February 7, 2019 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    I suppose the cat with the socks is trying to convince its staff that the socks are dangerous rodents killed by her.

  9. DrBrydon
    Posted February 7, 2019 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    I had a relative whose cat would also bang their dish like that when it was dinner time.

  10. Claudia Baker
    Posted February 7, 2019 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Doug Henning went to my high school and was 2 years ahead of me. He would perform his magic at our school assemblies and was amazing even then.

  11. Posted February 8, 2019 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    Snow White

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