Tuesday: Hili dialogue

Well, here we are at Charles Darwin’s 210th birthday: February 12, 2019.

It’s National Finch Pie Day (only kidding: it’s National P B and J Day, and you know what that stands for). Besides Darwin’s Birthday, it’s Red Hand Day, a UN day to call attention to the use of child soldiers.

In Chicago we had freezing rain last night, which coated the trees and then froze:

It was on Darwin Day in 1554 that Lady Jane Grey was beheaded for treason. She had been Queen for only nine days. On this day in 1832, appropriately, the Galápagos Islands were annexed by Ecuador.

On this day in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (the NAACP) was founded. I think it’s time to change the name to NAAPoC.  On February 12, 1924, George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue premiered in New York City, with Paul Whiteman’s band and Gershwin on the piano. Gershwin wrote the piece in just five weeks, and although critical reviews were mixed, it was a huge hit with the public.  Here it is played by the Royal Philharmonic. It’s 17 minutes long and if the picture doesn’t show on the video below, click anyway.

On this day in 1974, Alksandr Solzhenitsyn, who had won the Nobel Prize in Literature four years earlier, was exiled from the Soviet Union.  On February 12, 1993, two year old James Bulger was abducted from a Merseyside shopping center by two ten year old boys, who tortured and murdered him. I believe the murder is the subject of a new movie.

In 1994, four thieves stole Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream” from the National Gallery of Norway; it was recovered on May 7. Five years later, the U.S. Senate acquitted Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial. Finally, it was on this day 15 years ago that San Francisco began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples at the Mayor’s directive. While this violated state law, and the courts later annulled the marriages, it was a step forward in bringing gay rights to public attention.

Notables born on February 12 include Jan Swammerdam (1637, Matthew’s hero), Cotton Mather (1663), CHARLES DARWIN (1809), Abraham Lincoln (also 1809), Anna Pavlova (1881), Max Beckmann (1884), Omar Bradley (1893), Tex Beneke (1914), Julian Schwinger (1918; Nobel Laureate), Costa-Gravas (1933), Ray Manzarek (1939), and Christina Ricci (1990).

Those who bought the farm on this day include Lady Jane Grey (1554; see above), Ethan Allen (1789), Immanuel Kant (1804), Grant Wood (1942), Sal Mineo (1976), Eubie Blake (1983), and Sid Caesar (2014).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hilli is occupying Andrzej’s bed—at Andrzej’s nap time:

A: Hili, could you move to another place?
Hili: Go and sleep on the sofa.
In Polish:
Ja: Hili, czy możesz się przesunąć na inne miejsce?
Hili: Idź spać na sofie.

I found this picture on Facebook. It’s surely PhotoShopped extensively, but it’s still funny:

And another Facebook gem (real): Spot the kitten!

A newborn kakapo from reader Nilou. These flightless parrots are breeding like hotcakes this year! They must be saved.

And a kakapo hatching, sent by Heather Hastie:

Tweets from Grania; her take on this one is “The singularity is still not upon us.”

Grania sent this to Matthew, who said he wouldn’t eat dogs or cats but he’d eat Tories.

Cat gets a drink. (Did it knock the drink off the bar?):

A live cat tries where Tom the Cat failed:

Tweets from Matthew. Boxing hares! (But I can’t hear their feet; can you?)

Well, the spider mimicry is speculative, but I think it’s real.

Traversing the moon Europa; absolutely stunning:

And a real spider—a velvet underground one!


  1. W.Benson
    Posted February 12, 2019 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Happy Birthday Charlie.

  2. Frank Bath
    Posted February 12, 2019 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    “These flightless parrots are breeding like hotcakes this year!” LOL. I must get some hotcakes and watch them.

  3. Roger
    Posted February 12, 2019 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    I like Liberace’s version the best.

    • Roger
      Posted February 12, 2019 at 7:12 am | Permalink

      Also Chopsticks haha. Best Chopsticks ever.

  4. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 12, 2019 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Hooray for Darwin!

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 12, 2019 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Abe Lincoln, the least formally educated president in the U.S. and yet.

  6. Posted February 12, 2019 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Lots of ski and snowmobile tracks on Europa! I guess it has been the solar system’s best-kept secret off-season snow sport destination.

    • Joe Dickinson
      Posted February 12, 2019 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      I had the same thought.

  7. Posted February 12, 2019 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    I wonder why there is such a taboo on eating dog and cat meat in my country. Is it because we consider them pets or is there some more biologically related reason e.g. parasites?

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted February 12, 2019 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      Yes. Normally we don’t get real excited about eating a member of the family. Maybe in some exceptional families but not generally. It is illegal to serve horse meat in the U.S. as well.

      • Posted February 12, 2019 at 8:13 am | Permalink

        I don’t think it is illegal to eat horsemen in the UK but many people won’t eat it anyway. I personally wouldn’t have a problem with eating it (I have once – to my knowledge – in the past) but there’s no way I’d touch cat or dog.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted February 12, 2019 at 8:16 am | Permalink

          But as you say…why?

          • Posted February 12, 2019 at 8:28 am | Permalink

            That’s why I find the question interesting: I don’t know why. Intellectually, I can say “there’s no real physical distinction between eating cat meat and pig meat but whereas I love the latter, I just couldn’t touch the former.

        • pablo
          Posted February 12, 2019 at 8:26 am | Permalink

          I like a good horseman every now and then.

        • rickflick
          Posted February 12, 2019 at 9:23 am | Permalink

          In parts of Asia, it is customary to eat dog. They are raise from pups for the dinner table. I think it’s mainly a cultural thing.

          • Posted February 13, 2019 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

            I think the same. While I wouldn’t eat cat or dog (unless I am starving), I have no principled objection against eating any animal that is not endangered. And whenever I hear someone to mock Muslims over their pig taboo, I ask him how he would like eating dog.

        • Barbara Radcliffe
          Posted February 12, 2019 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

          Last year I saw a horse meat butcher shop in Kanazawa. The refrigerated window had a sign that warned, in Japanese, ‘Don’t knock the window. It scares the horses’! I’ve not eaten horse, but I have eaten stir fried donkey in China. I didn’t know what it was until I asked, and rather regretted that I had asked.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted February 12, 2019 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      Or how about those hard white chunks in sausage and ground beef? What IS that stuff, cartilage?

      Or how about this taboo – the nasty bits in apple cores or pear cores – is that worse than eating dog, or cartilage? If not, why is there an apparent aversion?

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted February 12, 2019 at 8:37 am | Permalink

        Also those little white stringy things that must be peeled off a bananna. Those too must be removed.

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted February 12, 2019 at 8:41 am | Permalink

          Recipe idea :

          Apple/pear core fingernail-like thingies
          Banana strings
          … need more ingredient ideas….

      • darrelle
        Posted February 12, 2019 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        Those white chunks in sausage are mostly fat, though surely some are other types of tissue like cartilage. The size and proportion of the fat chunks is one of the most important things in sausage making.

        The nasty bits in apple and pear cores, and similar, are nasty because they are generally unpalatable and the consistency is also generally unpleasant. By generally I mean the typical person finds it so.

        You could take these cores, pulverize them, add fake shit and tons of high fructose corn syrup, package the goop in creative ways and market it as the next super nutritious, green and yummy manufactured food product your kids will love, but why? Just use them as compost or animal feed.

  8. Posted February 12, 2019 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Subjectively, why is it any more horrible to eat dogs than cows? Moral relativism?

    Darwin related – a job conserving Darwin archives…

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted February 12, 2019 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      You could consider a move to the Philippines. Dog is very popular there. Subjectively of course.

    • darrelle
      Posted February 12, 2019 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      It just comes down to conditioning. Most people discussing this here, most people in most places I’ve ever lived, have a very long history of having dogs as valued pets. Valued members of the family. Valued for their working benefit and companionship both. At the same time cows raised to be a source of food is also something that has been the norm in “our” societies for many generations.

      If you remove these historical relationships from consideration and contemplate only the pragmatic nutritional and efficiency aspects they may indeed be equivalent. But that ain’t how humans work. This line of argument may turn out to work for arguing that eating animals of any kind should be discontinued, but I don’t think it would work very well for arguing that since we eat cows it should be okay to eat dogs. At least not in cultures like ours that have had a long term special relationship with dogs in which they are considered to be part of the family.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted February 12, 2019 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        General rule: If you’re gonna eat it, don’t give it a name.

        A colleague at work had a pet deer. Stroppy thing, but his mother-in-law thought it was cute. Eventually it went the way of all livestock. So, they were having a barbecue and ma-in-law said “What is this, it’s delicious” and without thinking he answered “Bambi”. He reckoned his wife wouldn’t speak to him for a week.


      • Posted February 13, 2019 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

        “I don’t think it would work very well for arguing that since we eat cows it should be okay to eat dogs.”

        It worked for Amundsen and his team, however.

        • darrelle
          Posted February 13, 2019 at 4:09 pm | Permalink


  9. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 12, 2019 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    John Cale get a velvety spider named after him, too?

    • Posted February 12, 2019 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      … and Nico should have one too!

  10. Jim batterson
    Posted February 12, 2019 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Europa flyover video is amazing. It says low altitude. Does anyone know from what altitude these pictures were made?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 12, 2019 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      The Galileo space probe orbited Jupiter 34 times over eight years during which time it managed to whizz past some of the moons a few times. Europa received 11 ‘flybys’ in the mid-90s at around 200 km altitude. There are better images, such as this one:

      • Merilee
        Posted February 12, 2019 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

        Um, Michael…are you perhaps “transitioning”, judging by your new avatar?

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted February 12, 2019 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

          Only virtually, I got bored with my face. You are now looking at PJ Harvey – the ‘art rocker’ of some note.

          • Merilee
            Posted February 12, 2019 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

            Nice ears😻

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted February 12, 2019 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

          Ears? Feathers dear. As per the pics I put here below.

          • Merilee
            Posted February 12, 2019 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

            OK, but they first looked like black kitty ears😬

      • Jim batterson
        Posted February 12, 2019 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

        So likely a somewhat lower than the iss from earth. Thanks! That is helpfulmichael.

  11. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted February 12, 2019 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    The AI inspired valentines day candy reminds me of another AI example known as InspiroBot, which generates inspirational posters. Generally weird. Sometimes… disturbing.

    • Robert Hurlburt
      Posted February 12, 2019 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      Just checked it out. Truly great. Thanks.

  12. W.Benson
    Posted February 12, 2019 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Never forget: AI has neither morals nor ethics. [not a reply to Mark, but still relevant]

  13. rickflick
    Posted February 12, 2019 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    I only vaguely remembered the Bulger murder. Checking details I notice that the 10 year olds were tried as adults in an adult courtroom which was later criticized by the European Court of Human Rights. It appears that retributive condemnation was the order of the day.

    “At the trial, the lead prosecution counsel Richard Henriques QC successfully rebutted the principle of doli incapax, which presumes that young children cannot be held legally responsible for their actions.”

    It sounds as if the prosecution was falling in line with public sentiment. I believe they had moral responsibility in mind.

    • Posted February 13, 2019 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      There was little retribution: both culprits were eventually released into the populace under false names, that is, the well-being of killers trumped that of potential victims.

      • rickflick
        Posted February 14, 2019 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

        Wikipedia says they were subsequently both re-incarcerated based on violations of there probation agreements. Not sure where it stands now.

  14. Posted February 12, 2019 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Didn’t know there was a Genus Loureedia. So cool! Here’s his biggest hit, “Walk on the Wild Side”:

  15. Merilee
    Posted February 12, 2019 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    I CAN hear the wabbit paws🤓

  16. GnuAtheist
    Posted February 12, 2019 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    All these worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landing there.

  17. revelator60
    Posted February 12, 2019 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    “Rhapsody in Blue” first appeared on the big screen in 1930, when Paul Whiteman and his bad performed it in the revue film “King of Jazz.”
    The film was shot in two-color technicolor, which could not accurately reproduce blue, so the performance is more “Rhapsody in Aquamarine.” Nevertheless the scene is stunning, thanks to the direction (from Broadway revue master John Murray Anderson) and set design. Here’s an excerpt:

    “King of Jazz” was restored in 2017 and released on Blu-Ray by Criterion the following year. It’s a wonderful time capsule of American pop (back then “jazz” was a catchall term for modern popular music).

  18. merilee
    Posted February 13, 2019 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Testing here, too…

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