Thursday: Hili dialogue

It’s Thursday, March 14, and in ten days I will be arriving in Amsterdam, where I’ll see again the van Gogh and Rembrandt museums (the latter has a swell new exhibition), and Anne Frank’s house, not to mention tucking into a rijsttafel. I hope to eat that dish, shown below, and perhaps some Dutch readers can steer me to the best place to get it in Amsterdam:

I will be giving a (free) public lecture on April 1 in Brussels, and a science talk on my fly work in Louvain the next day. Stay tuned for details. It’s National Potato Chip Day, a comestible infinitely inferior to rijsttafel, but so be it.  I will eat the superior equivalent, frites, in both the Netherlands and Belgium.

It’s also Pi Day in the U.S., since we write the date as 3/14. Here’s Pi the Cat, one of my favorite felines, who just recoverd from a near-death illness. I was terribly scared that he would have to be euthanized. But he was saved at the last moment!

And here is a test yesterday of whether Pi was scared of a cucumber. He was. But of course we need a control test in which he encounters a non-snakelike object such as an apple. (Cats don’t like citrus fruits so one can’t use an orange.

It was on this day in 44 BC that Cassius and Casca apparently decided, on the night before Julius Caesar was assassinated, that they would let Mark Antony live. After fleeing Rome, Antony returned and eventually replaced Caesar.  On this day in 1794, Eli Whitney was given a patent for his cotton gin, revolutionizing cotton processing (and of course promoting slavery). On March 14, 1885, Gilbert and Sullivan’s operatta “The Mikado” was first performed—in London.  And on this day in 1931, India released its first talking film, Alam Ara.  The entire movie is here, and its big hit song, “De de khuda ke naam per”, is below, the first love song in Hindi cinema:

A poster:

On March 14, 1942, as Wikipedia reports, “Orvan Hess and John Bumstead became the first in the United States successfully to treat a patient, Anne Miller, using penicillin.”  HOWEVER, Wikipedia’s article on the history of penicillin use doesn’t even mention this, though it is on Wikipedia’s entry for Orvan Hess. Once again I find discrepancies on this site, which elsewhere notes other “first patients”. Perhaps Greg Mayer is right, though for four years he’s temporized on his article, “What’s the matter with Wikipedia?” (My emphasis below.)

In 1930, Cecil George Paine, a pathologist at the Royal Infirmary in Sheffield, attempted to use penicillin to treat sycosis barbae, eruptions in beard follicles, but was unsuccessful. Moving on to ophthalmia neonatorum, a gonococcal infection in infants, he achieved the first recorded cure with penicillin, on November 25, 1930. He then cured four additional patients (one adult and three infants) of eye infections, and failed to cure a fifth.

In 1939, Australian scientist Howard Florey (later Baron Florey) and a team of researchers (Ernst Boris Chain, Edward Abraham, Arthur Duncan Gardner, Norman Heatley, Margaret Jennings, J. Orr-Ewing and G. Sanders) at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford made progress in showing the in vivo bactericidal action of penicillin. In 1940, they showed that penicillin effectively cured bacterial infection in mice. In 1941, they treated a policeman, Albert Alexander, with a severe face infection; his condition improved, but then supplies of penicillin ran out and he died. Subsequently, several other patients were treated successfully. In December 1942, survivors of the Cocoanut Grove fire in Boston were the first burn patients to be successfully treated with penicillin.

On this day in 1964, a Dallas jury found Jack Ruby guilty of killing Lee Harvey Oswald, himself the assassin of John F. Kennedy. Ruby died of lung cancer three years later—in the very hospital where JFK had been pronounced dead and Lee Harvey Oswald had died. On March 14 three years later, JFK’s body was interred at his permanent gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery. On this day in 1969, 50 years ago, Edward M. Burke became a Chicago City Council member. He’s still serving, though he’s under indictment.  Finally, it was one year ago today that the toy store Toys “R” Us, filed for bankruptcy, done in by online marketing.

Notables born on this day include Johann Strauss I (1804), Victor Emmanuel II (1820), Isabella Beeton (1836), Paul Ehrlich (1854, Nobel Laureate), Casey Jones (1863), Albert Einstein (1879), Sylvia Beach (1887), Hank Ketcham (1920), Diane Arbus (1923), Michael Caine (1933), Billy Crystal (1948), and Simone Biles (1997).

Those who punched out on this day include Karl Marx (1883), George Eastman (1932), Chic Young (1973), and Stephen Hawking (last year).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili sticks up for the scientific rationality of felinekind:

Hili: Do you think there are creationists among dogs?
A: I don’t know. Why do you ask?
Hili: Because there are none among cats.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy myślisz, że wśród psów są kreacjoniści?
Ja: Nie wiem, dlaczego pytasz?
Hili: Bo wśród kotów nie ma.

“AOC” still hasn’t learned how to be a representative. She’s always pushing her agenda, even when it is inappropriate, like here. Until she sheds her hubris, she’s just another social-media “influencer”.

A tweet from Heather Hastie. Look at that tail! (Other commenters in the thread flaunt their own cats’ fluffy tails.)

Tweets from Grania. This first dude is smoking! Read more about Armstrong here, and see a one-hour video documentary about him, “Louie Bluie”, here (I’d watch some of it if I were you). He was a polymath: a musician, a painter, and a poet.

Shappi had “the wit of the staircase”:

This pair of photos is fantastic, albeit riddled with male alopecia:

Yet more proof that medieval artists simply couldn’t paint cats. Even I could do better than this!

Tweets from Matthew. What they don’t say about this first one is that Félicette didn’t live long after she returned to Earth.

Can you hear the purr in the second tweet?

Have a look at what data are going to Facebook and then other organizations. Oy vey!

Cats rule, dogs drool:



  1. Dominic
    Posted March 14, 2019 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    Happy #InternationalDayOfActionForRivers !

  2. Michael Fisher
    Posted March 14, 2019 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    THIS PERSONAL REVIEW of 12 Amsterdam Indonesian restaurants rates Tajuh Maret highly:

    Tujuh Maret

    Almost next door to Tempo Doeloe but nowhere near as well-known (I only discovered it very recently) is Tujuh Maret – a family-run restaurant that’s not much to look at but absolutely delivers. When we first looked at the menu, we weren’t sure they served alcohol (shock horror!) but when we asked they were happy to keep carafes of house wine flowing. The non-veggie rijsttafel costs €27.75, which is cheaper than many on this list, but is just as extensive. And (wait for the best bit) several of the dishes are actually properly spicy. Not uncomfortably so, but I’d have a few friends whose eyes might water a little. And that’s a good thing because it’s been regrettably hard to come by in the gathering of this list. It’s hard to pick out favourite dishes because I enjoyed them all – even the tempeh, which usually I can’t stand.

    Rijsttafel Rating: 4.5/5
    Cost: € 27.75

    Google translate: d

    TABLE MINAHASA € 27.75

    the famous very extensive rice table of Tujuh Maret with all house specialties (mild, medium and spicy) including satay ajam, yellow and white rice and sambal goreng telor (from 2 people price per person)

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted March 14, 2019 at 7:06 am | Permalink

      Also there’s The DOORS Coffee Shop – Years old, atmospheric, 60s rock music, classic beers, snacks & of course other stuff.

  3. frank bath
    Posted March 14, 2019 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    My family visited the Anne Frank house. I said it would be too upsetting and gave it a miss. They came out quiet and very sad.

  4. GBJames
    Posted March 14, 2019 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Do cats react to bananas the way they do to cucumbers? My guess is “yes”.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 14, 2019 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    … in the very hospital where JFK had been pronounced dead and Lee Harvey Oswald had died.

    Parkland Hospital. That and the other sites in Dallas regarding those events — Dealey Plaza, the Schoolbook Depository Building, Love Field, the Texas Theater, the highway overpass, the grassy knoll — are etched in my childhood memory as distinctly as the Stations of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa that we used to recite in church during grade school every Friday afternoon during Lent.

  6. dani
    Posted March 14, 2019 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Would anyone have time to read this article and tell me their opinion?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted March 14, 2019 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      You want an opinion on what Dani? Their methodology? Their data/calculations? Their results? A quick look suggests that in essence they are saying the following [I’m using an easy, clear related & true example from the bad old days of leaded petrol]:

      [1] “Rich people who live up the hill ingest less lead than the poor people who live in the valley next to the motorway”
      [2] “Rich people put more lead in the environment than poor people”
      [3] “This is unfair”

      • Dani
        Posted March 14, 2019 at 11:21 am | Permalink

        Anything really. Thanks!

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted March 15, 2019 at 1:35 am | Permalink

          I wish I had the science chops to oblige. My only observation is I found it peculiar to conduct a pollution study with the populations identified by race. I would have thought dividing by population habits or locales would be a more natural division. Is there an ‘agenda’ behind the methodology?

    • Posted March 14, 2019 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      My opinion is we need to reduce pollution.

  7. Posted March 14, 2019 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    On March 14, 1942, as Wikipedia reports, “Orvan Hess and John Bumstead became the first in the United States successfully to treat a patient, Anne Miller, using penicillin.” HOWEVER, Wikipedia’s article on the history of penicillin use doesn’t even mention this, though it is on Wikipedia’s entry for Orvan Hess. Once again I find discrepancies on this site, which elsewhere notes other “first patients”

    I can see the logic behind this apparent discrepancy.

    The firsts listed on the page about penicillin appear to be World firsts. If they list the firsts in the USA (which are not notable except for being first in the USA), they’d have to list the firsts for every other country on Earth too and that would be too much noise in the penicillin article.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted March 14, 2019 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      Besides which Jerry may be pulling our legs. Wikipedia has the observed accuracy of 80 %, any single mistake says nothing but you need statistics.

      And notably it is the same accuracy as other encyclopedias, so nothing to get excited about, As a communal effort, as other encyclopedia’s likely are though within a company, and being volunteered it is also both cheap and of special social value.

      • Posted March 15, 2019 at 5:26 am | Permalink

        80%? One in five facts stated on Wikipedia are wrong? That seems high.

        • GBJames
          Posted March 15, 2019 at 8:55 am | Permalink

          It could be one of those incorrect facts found on Wikipedia. 😉

          • Posted March 15, 2019 at 9:24 am | Permalink

            It is actually quoted in the Wikipedia article on the reliability of Wikipedia.

  8. CNH
    Posted March 14, 2019 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    PI day in the UK would be on the the 22 July: ie, 22/7

    • merilee
      Posted March 14, 2019 at 9:13 am | Permalink


    • DrBrydon
      Posted March 14, 2019 at 9:36 am | Permalink


    • Posted March 14, 2019 at 9:55 am | Permalink


    • Posted March 15, 2019 at 5:29 am | Permalink

      I prefer to use the ISO date format in which pi day is in the year 3141. As that is a long way off and month 15 does not exist, I’m prepared to ignore it and go with month and day.

  9. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 14, 2019 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    It’s National Potato Chip Day, a comestible infinitely inferior to rijsttafel, but so be it. I will eat the superior equivalent, frites

    Watch out for the mayonnaise, man. They drown ’em in that shit.

  10. Michael Fisher
    Posted March 14, 2019 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    The new British 50 pence coin celebrating Hawking:

    It’s a black hole representation – underwhelming IMO

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted March 14, 2019 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      I think it looks quite cool. I hadn’t seen it before and I don’t see who else they could’ve represented a black hole.

      It would’ve been more elegant if they’d used the image from the cover of Unknown Pleasures, but I guess that’s too closely associated with Joy Division.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted March 14, 2019 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      The formula says that the entropy of a black hole is proportional to the area of its event horizon. I’d have preferred a simplified version of this below [or wait until there’s a vacant ‘paper’ bill so we could have his image & the black hole both]:

  11. Janet
    Posted March 14, 2019 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    We will be in Amsterdam in April and a friend sent us this slide show of Van Gogh’s paintings and Byrd Burton’s version of Don McLean’s “Vincent” Guitar solo, which we thoroughly enjoyed and which put us in the proper mood to visit Van Gogh’s museum.

  12. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted March 14, 2019 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Still baffled why AOC comes in for such relentless criticism here. I think the question she asked was stupid, and I don’t think much of her politically or intellectually, but she certainly doesn’t seem poisonous or unkind or dishonest. She’s not like Ilhan Omar, and she’s nowhere near as bad as any of the hundreds of Republican pondlife who daily engage in the kind of dishonesty and moral turpitude that AOC simply isn’t capable of. And who escape mention here entirely.

    And I tried the cucumber thing with all our cats…nothing. They just looked at me like ‘why are you following me around with a cucumber’? Which, to be fair, would concern me if I was a cat and my owner did that. I’d wonder about their…predilections.

    • GBJames
      Posted March 14, 2019 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      I’m with you, Saul, regarding AOC.

      As for your cats… have you tried carrots? Green Onions? Green beans?


      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted March 14, 2019 at 9:48 am | Permalink

        Well, it’s a bit of a sad story really. I moved out of the family home a year ago and all our cats had to stay behind. Little Theon, Raffles, Digby…they now have new owners, so I can’t experiment with different vegetables.
        Besides, there does come a point when it stops being a simple experiment born of curiosity and starts being a trawling exercise to find things that terrify your cat.

      • merilee
        Posted March 14, 2019 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        Brussels sprouts?
        With you on AOC as well.

    • DrBrydon
      Posted March 14, 2019 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      My daughter tried to cucumber with our cats. Nada.

  13. DrBrydon
    Posted March 14, 2019 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    “Tried the“. I didn’t mean to imply that she herself acted the part of the cucumber. She isn’t nearly green enough.

    • Doug
      Posted March 14, 2019 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      I like the use of “cucumber” as a verb.

  14. Posted March 14, 2019 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Good music video. Fiddle, drums and piano.

    • Posted March 14, 2019 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      I meant piano, not drums.

      • Posted March 14, 2019 at 10:34 am | Permalink

        I meant guitar, not piano .

        I need another cup of coffee, or to listen to the Visio again.

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