Monday: Hili dialogue

It’s Monday again: February 11, 2019, and National Peppermint Patty Day. It’s also International Day of Women and Girls in Science (UN Women).

The wrong Peppermint Patty


On this day in 1534, Henry VIII of England was deemed the supreme head of the Church of England, making England a theocracy (LOL). On February 11, 1794, the first open session of the U.S. Senate, which the public could view, was convened.  On this day in 1858, Bernadette Soubirous has her first vision of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes, France. She was 14, and died of tuberculosis at 35. On this day in 1938, according to Wikipedia, “BBC Television produces the world’s first ever science fiction television program, an adaptation of a section of the Karel Čapek play R.U.R., that coined the term ‘robot’“. Exactly 5 years later, Dwight Eisenhower became the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe.

And a decade later than that, Ike appeared again, denying the appeals for clemency from convicted spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. They were electrocuted on June 19 of that year.  On February 11, 1978, China finally lifted its ban on the works of Shakespeare, Aristotle, and Charles Dickens. OY!

Speaking of theocracies, it was exactly 40 years ago today that Iran established an Islamic theocracy in that country under the leadership of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.  In 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from Victor Verser Prison, ending a 27 year period of incarceration.  In 2006, Vice President Dick Cheney, on a quail hunt in Texas, accidentally shot attorney Harry Whittington. Whittington was badly injured and filled with shotgun pellets, but he recovered. As for Cheney, we hear this from Wikipedia: ”

The Washington Post article also said that Cheney had violated “two basic rules of hunting safety”: he failed to ensure that he had a clear shot before firing, and fired without being able to see blue sky beneath his target. The paper also reported that Cheney has still neither publicly nor privately apologized to Whittington for the shooting.

No apologies! What a jerk!  Finally, exactly 8 years ago, during the Arab Spring, Hosni Mubarak resigned as the fourth President of Egypt.

Notables born on this day include Josiah Willard Gibbs (1839), Thomas Edison (1847), Leo Szilard (1898), Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915), Paul Bocuse (1926), Manuel Noriega (1934), Burt Reynolds (1936), Sheryl Crow (1962), Sarah Palin (1964), and Jennifer Aniston (1969).

Those who expired on February 11 include René Descartes (1650), Léon Foucault (1868), Sergei Eisenstein (1948), Sylvia Plath (1963), Eleanor Powell (1982), Paul Feyerabend (1994), Whitney Houston (2012), and Bob Simon (2015). If you have a spare hour, here’s one of Eisenstein’s masterpieces, Battleship Potemkin (1925). The most famous scene, the Odessa Steps sequence, begins about 45:30.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili tries to show affection toward Cyrus:

Hili: Teeth and claws.
Cyrus: What are you talking about?
Hili: That teeth and claws are no obstacle for friendship.
In Polish:
Hili: Kły i pazury.
Cyrus: O czym mówisz?
Hili: Że kły i pazury nie przeszkadzają w przyjaźni.

A cartoon from Facebook:

A nice meme about the Most Interesting Cat in the World:

A tweet I found that was also sent by Matthew:

From reader Nilou, a vigorous kakapo. I think it’s Sirocco. . .

Tweets from Grania. Look at this needy raccoon!

. . . and a beautiful family of six lynx. Look at their paws!

Maajid Nawaz calls out leftist antisemitism in the US and the UK

Now this is a mural!

Tweets from Matthew, the first from fellow biologist (and humanist) Alice Roberts:

And one from Dr. Cobb himself, who clearly needs the Green New Deal:

A devious spider trapping prey by taking advantage not of camouflage, but of visibility:

A gray-colored jagarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi) .They come in different colors. As Wikipedia notes:

The coat is without spots, uniform in color, with, at most, a few faint markings on the face and underside. The coat can be either blackish to brownish-grey (grey morph) or foxy red to chestnut (red morph).



  1. steve
    Posted February 11, 2019 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    Scurrilous mallard bashing at SBMC

    Duck trigger warning.

  2. Roger
    Posted February 11, 2019 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Theocracies are hilarious!

    • Posted February 11, 2019 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      I used to do a quiz sometimes with:

      Category 1:
      Saudi Arabia
      United Kingdom

      Category 2:
      United States

      What’s the dividing principle distinguishing the categories?

      • Grania Devine
        Posted February 11, 2019 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        OK, what is it?

        • Commen-tater
          Posted February 12, 2019 at 12:11 am | Permalink

          I think category one has a state religion? Or is ruled by the head of the religion? (Not sure the latter is true of Saudi Arabia though.)

          • Posted February 13, 2019 at 11:26 am | Permalink

            Theocracies de jure vs. not. Note of course de facto some are different.

    • Posted February 12, 2019 at 6:25 am | Permalink

      Actually, I don’t think Jerry is correct to say that Henry VIII becoming the head of the Church of England made it a theocracy. Rather than putting the church in charge of running the state, it put the state in charge of running the church.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted February 12, 2019 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

        I would certainly see it that way. It was Henry quite clearly laying down who was in charge, and it wasn’t going to be the Pope.


  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 11, 2019 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    … Eisenstein’s masterpieces, Battleship Potemkin (1925). The most famous scene, the Odessa Steps sequence …

    And, seemingly, no filmmaker since — from Hitchcock to Coppola to DiPalma to Woody Allen to the director of the Naked Gun series — has been able to pass by a set of steps without offering up an homage to, or parody of, it 🙂 :

    • rickflick
      Posted February 11, 2019 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      Amusing. At the end…”To be continued”. I have no doubt.

  4. MKray
    Posted February 11, 2019 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    What the newt time lapse (wonderful) doesn’t tell us is the changing scale. Are we meant to believe that the final (very)multi-celled newt is to be seen on the same scale as the original single cell? Is all the energy required for the transition that we see supplied in the egg? Can a biologist help this poor physicist understand what he has seen?

    • Posted February 11, 2019 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      I think there is change of scale at the end, but not much. After all, the original cell is giant for a cell. And the developing embryo will eat nothing until hatching.

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

    The Insect Armageddon article Matthew was tweeting –

    he is right – compared with everything else this is grim indeed…

    • Posted February 11, 2019 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      To me, this possibility is quite surprising. I have long imagined insects continuing to roam the Earth after we are gone.

  6. John Dentinger
    Posted February 11, 2019 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Two things:
    1. The play R.U.R. was always a huge hit in my AP English classes–highly recommended, even if dated.
    2. Dick Cheney finally hunted down & killed the guy he shot–you can read all about it in The Onion.

    • kieran
      Posted February 11, 2019 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      There was an apology!

      The guy he shot apologised to Dick Cheney

    • Posted February 11, 2019 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      R.U.R did not coin the term “robot” – rather its translations did, which used the word for whatever reason. In the play, robots are synthetic (biological) organisms, not electromechanical ones. Apparently the word is just the word for something like “indentured servant” or similar in Czech.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted February 11, 2019 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

        If I’m not mistaken it just means labourer or worker (or proletarian) in Russian: “роботы всех стран, соединяйтесь!” “‘Robots’ of all countries, unite!” or something like it was seen on banners in the USSR. I thought that was quite funny with our ‘artificial human’ connotation.
        I’m 100% sure it goes back to the Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels: “Proletarier aller Länder vereinigt Euch!”,

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

          No, worker is рабочий (rabochiy) in Russian.

          • Nicolaas Stempels
            Posted February 11, 2019 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

            Ok Maya, I’m not an expert in Russian. So what is ‘роботы’? I’m sure -unless I’m hallucinating- I saw it on some banners in the USSR.

            • Nicolaas Stempels
              Posted February 11, 2019 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

              Note, here in South Africa a ‘robot’ is a traffic light!

              • rickflick
                Posted February 11, 2019 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

                There is a visual suggestion, as well as behavioral.

        • Posted February 13, 2019 at 11:28 am | Permalink

          An expert I know in Slavic languages emphasizes that there’s a “cannot leave” aspect to the relationship – it isn’t just proletarian then.

  7. Merilee
    Posted February 11, 2019 at 8:53 am | Permalink


  8. Barb
    Posted February 11, 2019 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    I only spotted 4 lynx and who could see their paws? (I rechecked several times!)

  9. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted February 11, 2019 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    That time lapse film by Jan van Ijken was stunning, especially the gastrulation and the blood cells in the gills!

    I love that angler fish mural, so clever.

    The Jackdaw and the Sparrowhawk, what are they doing? What is “a proper doing”? Is that a prey raping it’s predator? Or what?
    I’m glad both came off apparently unscathed, although I fear the Sparrowhawk’s self confidence must have been somewhat shaken.

  10. Posted February 13, 2019 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    All at my department are now fans of the amphibian development video.

%d bloggers like this: