Wednesday: Hili dialogue

It’s Hump Day: March 13, 2019, and fortunately a Wednesday rather than a Friday. It’s National Chicken Noodle Soup Day, which is anti-Semitic because matzo ball soup is infinitely better. It’s also National Elephant Day in Thailand, celebrating these magnificent tuskers.

I am feeling better than I did yesterday, and so have dragged my tuchas to work, though I may go home early, in which case posting may be light. As always, I do my best—even when ridden with phages.

In the news, neither Parliament nor the PM know what to do about Brexit, as PM May’s vote failed miserably. Here are the possibilities about what can happen now. I vote for another referendum, or any way to stop the process; but I am not a UK citizen.

On this day in 1325, the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan was founded on the site of today’s Mexico City, which it became in 1521 when the magnificent Aztec city was destroyed by the Spanish. It was a city on an island, and here’s what it looked like:


On this day in 1639, Harvard College got its name after clergyman John Harvard. It’s the oldest college in the U.S., followed by William and Mary (1693), and I’ve been to both of them, which makes me very special.  On this day in 1781, William Herschel discovered Uranus. (Insert your joke here, like “Yours, not mine!”)  And on March 13, 1930, the news of the discovery of Pluto (which is a planet) was sent to the Harvard College Observatory. Did I say that it was a planet?

On this day in 1943, the Nazis liquidated the Jewish ghetto in Kraków. 8,000 Jews were sent to labor camps to work (and die), 2,000 were killed on the streets, and the rest sent to Auschwitz to die. Here’s a photo of the deportation on that day:

On this day in 1991, the U.S. government announced that Exxon agreed to pay $1 billion to clean up the oil spill from the crash of the Exxon Valdez tanker. Exactly five years later, the Dunblane school massacre took place in Scotland, when Thomas Watt Hamilton killed 16 primary-school children and one teacher (he then committed suicide).  This led to the banning of private ownership of handguns in the UK, something which we need in the U.S. Sadly, no amount of school killings in this country would ever do that.

Finally, on March 13, 2013, the faux-liberal Pope Francis was elected in the Vatican as the 266th Pope. He is a useless man in charge of a harmful cult.

Notables born on this day include Percival Lowell (1855), Hugh Walpole (1884), L. Ron Hubbard (1911), Edward “Butch” O’Hare (1914), and Neil Sedaka (1939; he’s 80 today).

In honor of Sedaka’s 80th, here’s my favorite song of his, which he cowrote. Here he is lip-synching the 1962 version; there was another and slower one in 1975 (see it here). It could be regarded as the swan song of doo-wop:

Notables who died on March 13 are few; they include Benjamin Harrison (1901), Susan B. Anthony (1906), and Clarence Darrow (1938).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is guarding Cyrus, but only because Cyrus is her only protection against danger.

A: What are you doing?
Hili: I’m guarding Cyrus because when he starts to sniff he forgets about the whole world.
In Polish:
Ja: Co robisz?
Hili: Pilnuję Cyrusa, bo jak zaczyna wąchać, to zapomina o całym świecie.

Matthew sent the poignant cartoon below from Zach Weinersmith’s SMBC. I have to stop looking at HuffPo, which makes my stomach churn when I see headlines like this:

And I clicked, for the same reason (as I always say) that you sniff the milk carton when you already know its contents have gone sour. Maybe I’ll ratchet down the clicks:

From reader Nilou. This HAS to be the Tweet of the Week:

From Titania McGrath, whose identity has just been outed (more today or tomorrow):

Tweets from Matthew. Be sure to follow the thread to see what faces the commenters contributed:

A stunningly gorgeous moth: the Oriental orange banded green geometer moth from southern Asia.

Matthew says, “This is what Twitter is good for.”

Spot the snow buntings, especially in the right-hand photo:

Tweets from Grania, who says that this is the “original grumpy cat”. But the Pallas’s cat isn’t grumpy:

The famous duck/rabbit illusion (click on the video link):

A lovely leaf mimic:

An old cat ad. Even back then companies recognized the selling power of cats:



  1. ratabago
    Posted March 13, 2019 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Love the moth, and the phylogenetic tree of missing grapes.

    And I loved the irony of having to click the SMBC cartoon to be able to read it — it appears very blurry on this page, at least in my browser.

    • Posted March 13, 2019 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      Mine too. Had not noticed that effect before.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 13, 2019 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      Same for me. Like maybe a blown-up thumbnail initially?

      But why would ya want to watch hamsters on HuffPo when ya can watch kittehs on WEIT? 😉


  2. Stephen Mynett
    Posted March 13, 2019 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    I am a UK Citizen and hope we can get another referendum but the state of our politics and political parties is so rank I am not too optimistic.

    The whole Brexit fiasco was brought about by a very selfish politician (nothing new there) who offered the first referendum to guarantee a return to No 10 Downing Street. I am sure David Cameron did not believe the vote would go the way it did but he was stupid to assume that as the power of the populist right was too strong to be ignored.

    I read this site daily and enjoy it but rarely post, several times I have thought about weighing in on the Trump issues and would have been very critical of him and those who voted for him but with all that is going on here a phrase involving the words pot and kettle sprang to mind.

    • kieran
      Posted March 13, 2019 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      Trump is contained by the constitution of the US. Brexit has no rules and while both will have long term implications. The damage Brexit has the potential of doing to the UK, Ireland and Europe as a whole can’t be calculated yet. It’s already soured Anglo-Irish relations

    • Posted March 13, 2019 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      As I said right after the Brexit referendum, I still doubt it will ever happen. Still, they are making us nervous. Assuming they ask for a delay and get it, it probably comes down to who replaces May as PM. If it’s another one that refuses a second referendum, then this could go on for quite a while. Disclaimer: I am not in the UK but was born there so it’s on my mind.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 13, 2019 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      I think only options 4 (new referendum) or 7, (just no Brexit) are viable.
      Will the British come to their senses? I hope so, and I think so.
      [One of the main reasons that Brexit got a positive vote was immigration. The problem with immigration is not with immigrants from (Eastern) Europe, who mostly integrate fully within 2-3 generations, but with those immigrants who predominantly don’t (and yes, we all know where they come from). It must be clear by now that Brexit or Bremain has little import there.]
      I’m sure that if a new referendum were held it would overwhelmingly be in favour of Bremain, now that the hollow promises and rhetoric of the Brexiteers has been exposed for the nonsense it is.
      As an illustration, Mr Reese-Mogg -a fervent Brexiteer- recently contended that the mortality rate in Kitchener’s concentration camps during the Boer war in South Africa was about equal to the mortality rate in Glasgow during the same time. He told that with a straight face, while in reality the difference in mortality was well over an order of magnitude greater. Who would still believe any of his straight-faced and confidently presented lies?
      Stephen, I feel for you and sincerely hope there will be a new referendum.

      • Posted March 14, 2019 at 6:22 am | Permalink

        No deal is still on the table. I think the realistic options are long extension (possibly with new referendum), no deal and staying in the EU.

        I favour the last of these options.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted March 14, 2019 at 6:34 am | Permalink

          I would put £50 on: “2019 referendum & UK votes to remain”
          The odds offered for that at the moment are 7/2.

          • Posted March 14, 2019 at 6:59 am | Permalink

            Clarification: when I said “I favour the last option” what I mean is that is what I want to happen, not what I think will happen.

    • Posted March 14, 2019 at 6:19 am | Permalink

      the power of the populist right

      There seems to be some sort of attempt to rewrite history going on. A lot of people are blaming the fiasco on the populist right, but Brexit enjoyed support all across the political spectrum. The Labour Party could have stood up in opposition to Brexit but did not and this is because it was just as split on the EU as the Conservative Party was. Notably, Jeremy Corbyn was a Brexiteer.

  3. GBJames
    Posted March 13, 2019 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    For a moment I was sure that Saving Buttons from the Landfill was going to be about a rabbit or hamster or something.

  4. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted March 13, 2019 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    I can see that duck/rabbit illusion without it needing to rotate. Concentrating on the left-hand side of its head, it’s a duck; the right-hand, a rabbit.


  5. James Walker
    Posted March 13, 2019 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    There will not be another referendum. Even if there were, there is no guarantee that a second referendum would produce a Remain victory. My money is on no-deal Brexit, unfortunately.

    • Alan Clark
      Posted March 13, 2019 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      I agree that there will not be a repeat of the referendum, or a rejection of it, because that would mean admitting that Cameron made a blunder. The Tories would never admit to that, even though it is indisputably true, because they put the party before the country.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted March 13, 2019 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        Everybody knows Mr Cameron made a blunder, but he has become a non-entity now. Why would the Tories not admit to a blunder by a non-entity?
        I’m pretty sure a new referendum would be in favour of Bremain. We’ve heard hundreds of people regretting their pro-Brexit vote, I’ve heard exactly 0 the other way round.
        I also note that several Brexiteers wanted a second (and a third, fourth etc) referendum if the result were negative for them. So why not a second referendum?

    • Posted March 14, 2019 at 6:24 am | Permalink

      Now that Parliament has voted not to have a no deal Brexit (although the vote was not legally binding, just like the referendum), the odds on long extension or withdrawing article 50 have improved somewhat.

  6. Posted March 13, 2019 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    The ‘I think…’ cartoon made me laugh considerably.

    There are many examples online of real bird/rabbit illusions. Here is one:

  7. Jacques Hausser
    Posted March 13, 2019 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    I was a little shocked to see the tombstone of Steve Jones on this cartoon – but luckily they are several Steve Jones and the cartoon’s one has nothing in common (except the name) with the colleague who, few years ago,lent his jacket to Jerry…

  8. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 13, 2019 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Sedaka and 1962, a long time ago and one I remember. Our family moved to Arizona at that time, Scottsdale specifically. My father was involved in building an amusement park called Legend City. I wonder if there is anyone here of that age who lives in the Phoenix area and remembers that park. I believe there is still a web site dedicated to and about this facility from back then although the park is long gone.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted March 13, 2019 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      For historical purposes only:

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

        Looks very Disney.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted March 13, 2019 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

          Yes, some of the people from Disney came to Phoenix to work on the place. What happened as best I remember, they spent too much money early on and had some poor management. Having a big amusement park in the hot desert was not an easy thing and they made mistakes. It was a great place while it lasted.

  9. Jenny Haniver
    Posted March 13, 2019 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Honoring chicken noodle instead of matzo mall soup is not just antisemitic, it’s part of the grand antisemitic plot by the Democrat party!

  10. Posted March 13, 2019 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Also on March 13, 1943, Henning von Tresckow managed to smuggle a bomb onto hitler’s plane. Unfortunately, the fuse froze partway through. Had hitler been killed, a coup, prepared in detail by Hans Oster, Friedrich Olbricht, and the moderate politician, Carl Goerdeler, would have in all likelihood overthrown the nazis and sought to end the war.

    • Posted March 13, 2019 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      Every year, I mark the anniversary of this heroic act with a post on FB. But this year it has been blocked, and led to my FB account being frozen.

      • Posted March 13, 2019 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        What a pity that all attempts to assassinate Hitler have failed! A good example that, if God/Providence exists after all, he/she/xe is a jerk.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 13, 2019 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        Doubtless the woke have concluded that the plotters, being German at that time, were all Nazis and therefore your post was pro-Nazi propaganda.

        And you were glorifying planting a bomb on a plane to kill a duly elected head of state – the epitome of a terrorist act.

        (Yeah, I know, context is everything, but that’s much too subtle for the woke to comprehend)


        • Posted March 14, 2019 at 11:19 am | Permalink

          A twelve hour shadow-ban — which I tested by attempting to post quotes from 1984 and Animal Farm — has been lifted.

          My guess is, the uniform depicted in his service photo triggered an algorithm, until someone in meatspace checked to make sure I hadn’t also recently posted pix of Dodge Challengers or Marylin Manson videos.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 13, 2019 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      Great to hear that, and a pity it failed, an untold number of lives would have been saved.
      I only knew of the well known von Stauffenberg attempt, which involved Germany’s greatest General, Erwin Rommel.

      • Posted March 14, 2019 at 11:35 am | Permalink

        Well-formed plans for a military coup were first laid in 1938 prior to the Munich Conference. Dozens of attempts were made by individuals and military personnel, including by two young army officers who’d witnessed SS murders of Jews and were prepared to embrace hitler and blow themselves up.

        Those who undertook the July, 1944 attempt knew it was largely symbolic at that point. Had any of the the previous year’s attempts been successful, several million lives could have been saved.

  11. Posted March 13, 2019 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Out of curiousity, is Sedna a planet?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted March 13, 2019 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      Sedna isn’t a planet. The naming of solar system objects is the job of the IAU & Sedna [orbital period [11,400 years] is not yet officially classified, but it will probably end up as a Dwarf Planet [a very bad name, I prefer planetoid!]. There are five recognised Dwarf Planets: Ceres, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake & Eris


      ** Planet: Natural body orbiting a star [or stellar remnant] that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion & has hoovered up all other matter in its orbit

      ** Dwarf Planet: As above, but the body hasn’t finished ‘hoovering’ – bodies maybe co-orbitting with it

      By the above definition our solar system has hundreds of “Dwarf Planets”, but it will take a long time [hundreds of years?] to decide if many of these Dwarf Planet candidates are DPs or not because how can we know if something with a 10k, 20k or 50k years orbit has a ‘clean’, unlittered orbit? Really, really daft definition because impractical.

      Also – I notice that Earth has matter in its orbit at two Lagrange points as does all the other planets [I think] – so…

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted March 13, 2019 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        The phrase “cleared it’s orbit” isn’t defined by the IAU. It means something like “there is nothing left nearby in the solar system that is going to significantly change the planet’s orbit”. An interaction would imply one of
        * the putative planet be scattered by any smaller body it encounters (extremely unlikely, the smaller body would be scattered more, in approximate proportion to their masses) ;* the smaller body would be scattered (out of the orbit, into the Sun or into the vasty deep) by the larger one ;* the smaller body would be accreted onto the larger one. Bang, splat, no Bruce Willis.
        Hal Levison interprets this in a sketch argument presented here ; note particularly the final diagram which shows the mass versus distance from the Sun for a body to be accreted by another body during a close encounter, and the same division for the bodies to be scattered out of the Solar system by a close encounter, the two actions together producing a region of “these are planets” and a region of “these are not planets”. Ceres and Pluto plot into the “not planets” sector while the “classical” planets are in the “planets” sector of M-a space.
        Incidentally, the Brown-Batygin 2016 proposal for Planet 9’s mass and orbital semi-major axis plots very close to this boundary criterion. Even at an estimated 10x Earth’s mass, it wouldn’t be certain that it had actually got enough mass to have cleared such an a=210 AU orbit. Observations, as they say, continue.

        Also – I notice that Earth has matter in its orbit at two Lagrange points as does all the other planets [I think] – so…

        Jupiter has hundreds of Trojans (and Greeks, chasing each other), they’re targets for a mid-2020s mission from NASA ; Uranus has two Trojans ; Neptune has 22 Trojans ; Mars has 4 trojans ; Earth has an oddly-orbiting object which is, to say the least, unstable (3753 Cruithne). People are looking for Earth-Trojans, but the technical challenges are quite significant (Sorry, they found another one – 2010TK7 ; with inclination i=21deg, and eccentricity e=0.191, it is severely different orbit to Earth and ranges from 20 Gm to ~230Gm from Earth ; that’s not a recipe for stability. There will certainly be apparitions when it is considerably closer to Venus than to Earth, and where it goes then … who knows?). Venus has a temporary Trojan too – which crosses both Earth’s and Mercury’s orbits. This is not a recipe for long-term stability.
        As regards the significance of an Earth Trojan for the “planethood” of the Earth, “meh”. In the event that one did get perturbed (by what?) into a close interaction with Earth, it is going to have one of two outcomes : accretion or ejection. There is definitely nothing there large enough to displace the Earth from it’s orbit. In short, the Earth has cleared it’s orbit of anything big enough to matter.
        Small bodies get thrown around the Solar system all the time – their being thrown around is what being a “small body” means. For short periods – a million years or ten – they might occupy an interesting location, but they’re not going to do anything much while they’re there. None of these objects are going to do more than a “temporary atmospheric disturbance” if they encounter one of the planets. “Boom”.

  12. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted March 13, 2019 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Therefore, Pluto is a planetoid, not a planet.
    I’m sorry Jerry,but I’ll go with the astronomers here.

  13. James Walker
    Posted March 13, 2019 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Because now it’s “The Will of the People”. The Tories can’t risk a second referendum. Labour might but they don’t seem to stand a chance of winning in a general election. May could be replaced as leader but the likelihood is that it would be an even more hard-core Brexiteer.

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