Monday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

Yep, it’s Monday, March 18, 2019, and in one week I’ll be waking up in Amsterdam. Look for travel photos but not as much posting for about 12 days. It’s National Sloppy Joe Day, and if you don’t know what those are, go to the Wikipedia article, which describes this regionally variable sandwich of loose, cooked ground beef. It’s also Transit Driver Appreciation Day, so give your bus drive a big kiss.

Professor Ceiling Cat, though recovering from his Nasty Cold, is still a bit under the weather and is resting at home today. Posting today (after this one) will be either light or nonexistent. But, as always, I do my best. And donate to Feline Friends London if you haven’t yet.

Today’s Google Doodle honors Japanese inventor Seiichi Miyake, inventor of the “Tenji Block” in 1965, which made possible “tactile paving” to help the visually impaired navigate by detecting a series of bumps or raised lines in the pavement (you can see a video of its use and importance here).  You will be familiar with these as they’ve been installed in many train and subway stations. If you click on the Doodle’s screenshot below, you’ll be offered a number of sites to learn more about this revolutionary invention.

On this day in 37 AD, the Roman Senate proclaimed Caligula as Emperor; he ruled four years until he was assassinated. As Wikipedia notes, “All surviving sources, except Pliny the Elder, characterize Caligula as insane. However, it is not known whether they are speaking figuratively or literally.”

On March 18, 1892, former Governor General of Canada Lord Stanley donated a silver cup as an award for the best hockey team in Canada. It became the Stanley Cup, and can now be held by American teams. On this day in 1940, Hitler met Mussolini (one of their few meetings) at the Brenner Pass, and agreed to form an alliance opposing France and the UK.

On March 18, 1965, Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov left his space capsule, Voshkod 2, for 12 minutes, thereby becoming the first person to walk in space. Here’s a video of his spacewalk, which shows that it (and the rest of the mission) was pretty much of a cockup.

On this day in 1990, citizens in the German Democratic Republic voted in their first democratic election. Finally, it was on that very day (1990) in Boston that the largest art theft in U.S. history took place, with 12 paintings, valued in total at half a billion dollars, stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. These included works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Manet and Degas. The robbery has never been solved, and empty frames, marking the loss, still hang on the museum walls.

Notables born on this day include Mary Tudor (1496), Polykarp Leyser I (1552), Christian Goldbach (1690), John C. Calhoun (1782), Grover Cleveland (1837), Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844), Neville Chamberlain (1869), Wilfred Owen (1893), Ernest Gallo (1909), John Updike (1932), F. W. de Clerk (1936), Wilson Pickett (1941), Linda Partridge (1950), and Queen Latifah (1970),

Goldbach’s Conjecture has never been proven, though it’s simple. Here it is:

Every even integer greater than 2 can be written as the sum of two primes,

Those who died  on this day include Robert Walpole (1745), Laurence Sterne (1768), Johnny Appleseed (1845), Erich Fromm (1980), Fess Parker (2010), and Chuck Berry (2017).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is hunting for underground prey:

Hili: I think I can hear a mole.
Cyrus: I think it’s just your imagination.
In Polish:
Hili: Chyba słyszę kreta.
Cyrus: Chyba ci się tylko zdaje.

And Leon is out hiking as the weather in Poland improves:

Leon: If there are stork nests there must be cat nests as well.

Leon: Jeśli są bocianie gniazda,to mogą być też kocie.

Tweets from Grania, with today being a special Grania Cat Edition. First, Larry, the Official Mouser to the Cabinet Office, offers to take over the Brexit mess:

The way things should be:

“I’m not a pet, dammit!”

This kitten is gonna have a sore butt:

Many people call it “kneading,” but I call it “making biscuits”:

Tweets from Matthew. The first is a classic Gary Larson cartoon of the Creation. (Why did Larson stop cartooning?)

One way to reach an unknown customer who accidentally left his jar of bees:

A sea otter sommelier:

And a series of videos of a big bee war. Dramas like this take place constantly under our noses but are rarely detected by humans:


  1. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    For some reason that eludes me, bees seem to enjoy a good PR as ‘social insects’, but – as those videos show – in reality their society makes 1984 look like utopia.


    • Posted March 18, 2019 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Perhaps they now have Twitter so “social” becomes deadly.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      For some reason that eludes me, I was rooting for the stingless bees, to no avail, of course. 🙂

    • Posted March 18, 2019 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      In a textbook of anthropology I have read, the definition of social species included not only belonging to a social group but also hostility to other social groups of the same species.

      • Posted March 18, 2019 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        Anyway, one feels sad for the slaughtered colony.

  2. Serendipitydawg
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    LRB Bookshop’s Tw*tter feed definitely took a turn to the weird afer that bee item!

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:18 am | Permalink

      Wow… Steven Pinker is on Daily Politics on BBC2. Looks like it might be more interesting that the usual sets of politicians arguing with one another.

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted March 18, 2019 at 9:25 am | Permalink

        Actually “Politics Live”; the link for those who can get the BBC iPlayer is here:

        The discussion of “Enlightenment Now” starts at about 33.30. There is rather too much from the politicians present and not as much as one would like from Pinker, but an interesting piece all the same.

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted March 18, 2019 at 9:53 am | Permalink

          Oops! I was harking back to the good old days of a couple of months back 😀 To me, it will always be Politics Live!

          Always good to see Pinker, but you are correct, he didn’t get much of a look in. Also, the Sheffield MP immediately missed/ignored his points and declared that life expectency for poorer women in her constintuency was falling/had fallen, blaming Conservative austerity, so I guess she was Labour.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted March 18, 2019 at 10:51 am | Permalink


            “Also, the Sheffield MP immediately missed/ignored his points and declared that life expectancy for poorer women in her constituency was falling/had fallen, blaming Conservative austerity, so I guess she was Labour”

            It’s Labour MP & Corbynite Louise Haigh who is currently the Shadow Policing Minister which is her THIRD shadow ministerial role in her mere four years as an MP. The day she was elected as the youngest MP [I think] in 2015 she got a ministerial role – that’s Corbynites: the inside track from the get go [not that Shadow blah blah is worth much at this juncture].

            She is lying or exaggerating or not a numbers person.
            [1] There is a reduction in the rate of increase of life expectancy NOT a reduction in life expectancy.
            [2] She is using reports from The Institute for Health Equity which looks at key indicators in life expectancy, inequality & health who in turn use what’s called “Marmot Health Indicators.” This data has a certain amount of lag & shouldn’t be used for short intervals for small sub-populations. Which is what’s she’s done!
            [3] Blaming the Conservatives for the effects of their austerity politics is probably valid, but using data that relies on the 10 year census cycle as a foundation is obviously dishonest
            [4] I looked at her website & picked out “defence” to see if she was a true Corbynite and that page is…

            Blank. LOL

            Corbyn & his followers frighten me more than the lovely Tony Benn [RIP] – they get an 11 on my “detached from sad reality” meter

            • Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:09 am | Permalink

              Small point of information

              The youngest MP in 2015 was Mhairi Black.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:21 am | Permalink

                Thanks. I was working from memory. Louise Haigh was the youngest Labour MP in the 2015 Parliament.

            • Steve Pollard
              Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:49 am | Permalink

              Thanks for that, Michael. I thought her claim that life expectancy for women (in the UK as a whole, I think she said, not just her constituency) had fallen by 4 years since 2008 must have been totally spurious, but I hadn’t time just then to check back.

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted March 18, 2019 at 9:56 am | Permalink

          To me, it will always be Politics Live!

          Doh! It will always be Daily Politics to me.

          Why they had to rename it is beyond me, it isn’t as though there is a major difference in format or time slot.

    • merilee
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      What does “rt” mean? Return?

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted March 18, 2019 at 8:16 am | Permalink

        rt = retweet

      • GBJames
        Posted March 18, 2019 at 8:16 am | Permalink

        On twitter, “rt” means “re-tweet”.

        • merilee
          Posted March 18, 2019 at 9:17 am | Permalink

          Thanks, Greg. I’m clearly not a twit🤓

  3. CAS
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Kneading behavior seems cute, but it is normally seen in cats that were weaned too young.

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      George still does it aged 20… I suspect he was weaned way too young. It’s also a good idea to get him pointing at a cushion while kneading because his claws are very sharp and pain sets in quite early otherwise 😀

      • merilee
        Posted March 18, 2019 at 9:15 am | Permalink

        I’ve found thst generally my male kitties have done it more than my females, with a dreamy look in their eyes😼

        • Claudia Baker
          Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:02 am | Permalink

          I used to think that cats who were weaned too soon practiced that kneading behaviour when they were adults. But, the kitty I have now, who is nearly 14, was with his mother his whole life, ’till she died a couple of years ago. Long after she weaned him, she would let him knead on her belly fur while he was falling asleep (which was amusing to watch since he was twice her size). He still kneads, but now uses a pillow or ball of wool, or whatever is nearby that is soft and pliable. He gets, as Marilee says, that “dreamy” look in his eyes. I think it’s just a pleasurable activity that some cats enjoy throughout their lives.

          • darrelle
            Posted March 18, 2019 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

            I can’t think of a cat I’ve known that didn’t “make biscuits.”

            My current furry princess likes to make them on my belly. I try to stifle my screams, so as not to disturb her, as her claws slowly slide in and out of my skin.

    • Taz
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

      I never heard that. Do you have a reference?

  4. Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Why did Larson stop cartooning?

    He was running out of fresh ideas and he thought the strip was becoming too repetitive.

    • Posted March 18, 2019 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      That hasn’t stopped Scott Adams.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted March 18, 2019 at 10:59 am | Permalink


      • Ken Kukec
        Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:19 am | Permalink

        Good one.

  5. GBJames
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    That Voshkod 2 video is really interesting.

    • Jim batterson
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      Re “cocked up”. Do not think so. These were an incredibly difficult set of engineering endeavors in a hostile environment which could not be replicated in earth-based simulation prep. In addition to the technical challenges, there was the main political driver and pressure which provided priority and funding both for the ussr and the us programs. To see that maintaining these systems today, 50 years later, continues to be a challenge, i suggest reading astronaut scott kelly’s book, “endurance”. It also demonstrates that while all astronauts need not be straight a students, they DO need to be creative, tenacious problem solvers.

  6. Michael Fisher
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    That GOOGLE VIDEO about Seiichi Miyake & Tactile paving has no audio narration. People complaining about the additional costs of special paving in the comments! [most 100% sighted people are unaware of the large numbers of their neighbours with failing sight, limited depth perception & so on]

    Typical comment:

    “The amount of eggs I have broken rolling over these pavings in a shopping cart and the number of times I’ve tripped or seen someone trip is, I guess, worth it…”

    This is a comment on poor installation practises though s/he doesn’t know it – it’s nearly always done wrong.

  7. Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Ah, Gary Larson.
    One of my prized possessions is an autographed book of his cartoons. It was a bit early in his career, and he was going to be at our local bookstore to promote his first cartoon book. I came and bought one, and as there was pretty much no one in line I got to chat with him for about 10 minutes. He signed the book and drew a cartoon for me! The book is sitting right next to me, and I often show it to G.L. fans.

    • Jenny Haniver@hotmai
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      Gary Larson drew a cartoon just for you, and you got to talk with him. You are one lucky guy.

      • merilee
        Posted March 18, 2019 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        I got to chat with him, too, at a signing at a small independent bookstore in maybe 1984. No personalized cartoon, though😿. Must dig out my signed book. I think I own all his books…

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted March 18, 2019 at 10:50 am | Permalink

          Lucky you, too!

          • merilee
            Posted March 18, 2019 at 12:38 pm | Permalink


    • Posted March 18, 2019 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      Send a screenshot of that cartoon if you don’t mind it being reproduced here. Or put it up!

  8. David Harper
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Apropos Brexit and cats, the Independent newspaper is reporting today that Nathalie Loiseau, France’s foreign minister, has named her cat Brexit, because he miaows loudly to be let out each morning, then refuses to go out when she opens the door.

    I think Ms Loiseau wins the Internet for today.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 3:26 pm | Permalink


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 19, 2019 at 12:18 am | Permalink

      Oh that’s classic!


  9. Christopher
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    At least one dead, others wounded in Utrecht, in what appears to be a terrorist shooting on a tram. Gunman still at large.

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Sadly, the death toll has now risen to three with nine injured. The gunman is one the run.

  10. Jenny Haniver
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Stingless bees could be said to be the Conor McGregors of the apian world. They can be fighting crazy and will even fight their own nestmates to the death if they become confused or intoxicated, and the entire colony can be destroyed this way (at least one kind loves gasoline and engages in what I guess could be called bee huffing, and they can become intoxicated from various alcoholic substances).

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      Conor McGregor: What an embarrassing comparison for poor old beedom.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted March 18, 2019 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        When you get drunk huffing gasoline or sipping fermented nectar and they just want to fight (even their own), I don’t know who or what else to compare them to.

  11. rickflick
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Mother cats move there young by gently biting the scruff. It’s called scruffing. The kitten has a reflex to become motionless. The abdomen is tightened so the rump clears the ground. This technique is sometimes used by veterinarians to immobilize a cat for treatment, but there are warnings not to do this at home since if done improperly it can cause the cat discomfort and stress.

  12. merilee
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    I would give it a try on a very young lion cub,and then give it a stretttcchhhh. I might regret it…

  13. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    I think Caligula was spoiled as a brat, and that as an Emperor was highly unpredictable, a man-child, and definitely had some sadistic traits. But I agree that it is moot to call him insane.
    I know another man-child, of whose reign it could be said it would be beneficial to all of us if it were to be limited to four years too (for all clarity: no, I’m positively NOT advocating assassination).
    Caligula could basically only be removed by murder, our man-child can be removed if the counting fraud, voter disenfranchisement, Russian trolling, etc, etc, can be kept below some limits.

  14. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    It has been decades I’ve lived or even been in Amsterdam, so most of the eateries will probably have gone.
    It is one of the most interesting cities I knew, beating Paris and London and on level with Rome.
    You should try ‘poffertjes’, small pancakes about an inch and a half in diameter and very thick. Not that I particularly like them, but they are as Dutch as ‘maatjes’ herring (the latter are not just raw, but half digested by their own enzymes, a real treat, but you swore them off for unfathomable reasons) or smoked eel. Smoked eel is one of the greatest dishes on Earth IMMO. Irrigated with a small glass of ‘jonge klare’, young jenever (the ancestor of gin).
    For cheeses you would do well to get yourself some local advice, there are some great cheeses, but there is an awful lot of bland factory stuff too.
    There are (were, at least) a lot of Surinamese, Turkish and Indonesian (and other) eateries, which I’m sure you would appreciate.
    There are also ‘coffee shops’, which offer high quality cannabis (at a quite high price compared to say, South Africa). If so inclined, you can also legally purchase and partake in ‘magic mushrooms’.

  15. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    “Dogs use side entrance”, That somehow sounds strangely familiar to South Africans…

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