Wednesday: Hili dialogue

Only one more day until formal Spring, as it’s March 20, 2019. Duck season (for rearing, not for hunting) will soon be upon us, and I’m crossing my fingers that Honey returns to make another brood. However, the Spring Equinox occurs today—at 4:58 p.m. in Chicago. It’s is celebrated with today’s Google Doodle: It’s National Ravioli Day, World Sparrow Day (they are pretty, you know), and the Great American Meatout Day, on which you’re supposed to pledge to forever refrain from eating meat.

Schadenfreude of the day. It about an Italian politician and was published in The Independent (click on screenshot). The guy is better now but was in hospital for four days. (h/t: David)

On this day in 1616, Sir Walter Raleigh, after being imprisoned in the Tower of London for 13 years, was freed. But it wasn’t long before he was imprisoned again, and then beheaded in October of 1618.  On March 20, 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe published her abolitionist novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Exactly two years later, the Republican Party of the U.S. was organized in Ripon, Wisconsin. Do not forget that Abe Lincoln was a member of that party. It was much better back then.

On March 20, 1915, Albert Einstein published his general theory of relativity, combining the earlier special theory with gravitation and establishing the notion of “space-time”. On this day in 1942, General Douglas MacArthur, having pulled American troops from the Philippines in the face of the Japanese, made his famous statement, “I came out of Bataan and I shall return”. And he did.

On March 20, 1966, Tunisia gained independence from France. In 1985, Libby Riddles became the first woman to win the 1,135-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, modeled on the 1925 Serum Run to Nome.  On March 20, 1995—and most of us remember this—the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo carried out a sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, which killed 13 and wounded more than 6,200. Ten men were involved: five released the gas and each had a getaway driver. All ten were either executed or sentenced to life imprisonment.

Finally, it was on this day 15 years ago that the Invasion of Iraq began in the dawn hours when the U.S., along with troops from the UK, Australia, and Poland, began military operations.

Notables born on this day include Ovid (43 BC), Henrik Ibsen (1828), B. F. Skinner (1904), Ozzie Nelson (1906), Vera Lynn (1917, still alive at 102), Carl Reiner (1922, still alive at 97), Fred Rogers (1928), Mary Ellen Mark (1940), John Boswell (1947, lived across the hall from me in my college dorm), Bobby Orr (1948), Spike Lee (1957), and Holly Hunter (1958).

Mary Ellen Mark was a street and portrait photographer specializing in the underbelly of American life, much like Diane Arbus. Here are two of her pictures:

Those who went underground on this day include Brendan Behan (1964), Chet Huntley (1974), V. S. Pritchett (1997), and David Rockefeller (2017).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Cyrus are feeling a bit peckish after their walkies::

Cyrus: Let’s go back to civilisation.
Hili: Yes, we have to eat something.
In Polish:
Cyrus: Wracamy do cywilizacji.
Hili: Tak, trzeba coś zjeść.
And in Honolulu, Pi is enjoying his new box (Pi speaks Hawaiian pidgin):
Pi: Mahalo fo’ da box, brudda, but wea is my kalua pig?

Laurie sent this cat meme:

A cartoon from Science Humor‘s Facebook page:From reader Barry, who exults (with me): “The seal was saved!” This seal had gotten itself entangled in a plastic ring and some fishing line, and you can see how hard it was to rescue. You need a special “seal stick”!

Tweets from Grania. First, a baby badger named Bumblebee.

Grania notes this: “They are trying to re-introduce him to his mother as he seems to have lost her a few nights ago. As far as I know that he is not Mr & Mrs Lumpy’s offspring. I think it may be a grandchild, but I don’t know if they are sure. Anyway, they seem fairly confident they can return him to his mother.” 

And here’s how Bumblebee was rescued:

There’s a goodly crop of kakapo chicks this year!

An oldie but a goodie (clearly the alleles are codominant):

And who can’t use an adorable kitten on Wednesday?

Tweets from Matthew. Did you know there were marine mites? I didn’t, and Matthew calls them to our attention:

I may have shown this before, but it’s still one of the funniest captions I’ve seen:

Here’s a veritable Cunk-o-Rama in which she questions the Expert Men:

I love these animal-reunion videos. Clearly these wild wolves remember this person, and they’ve kept that memory for two years. How lovely!



  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Yummy food alert : Beyond Burger, Beyond Sausage! Remarkable flavor! Still not healthy! Use the $1.00-off coupon! I am a fan, no disclaimers other than that!

    • GBJames
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 6:58 am | Permalink

      I like it, too.

  2. Posted March 20, 2019 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    A good Trivial Pursuit question in Britain is “name the party of Abraham Lincoln”. Almost everybody will go for Democrat.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      You think so? It would be interesting to see some statistics. I think there may be quite a wide appreciation that the Republican party was left-wing in its origins and only gradually crept to the right. But I don’t know.


      • Posted March 20, 2019 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        I think there may be quite a wide appreciation that the Republican party was left-wing in its origins

        Not in Britain. We don’t really teach American history here except insofar as it impinges on British history. I have been at a quiz where the question was asked and I was literally the only person in the room who knew the right answer.

        I will admit that when I say “Almost everybody will go for Democrat” I really mean “Almost everybody who knows enough about US politics to know the names of the two main parties will go for Democrat”.

      • GBJames
        Posted March 20, 2019 at 7:45 am | Permalink

        I don’t think the “left wing – right wing” dichotomy has much utility when speaking of American politics in the early and mid 19th Century. Republicans of the time were “left” (if you must) with regard to slavery. They were also “right” (if you must) in being the party most supportive of business interests.

        • Historian
          Posted March 20, 2019 at 8:29 am | Permalink

          I agree. To refer to mid-nineteenth century parties in the U.S. as right wing or left wing is senseless. It is only at the very end of the century that these classifications in the modern sense begin to have any relevance.

    • Historian
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      An equally correct answer to what was Lincoln’s party is Whig. For most of his political career he campaigned under that banner. The most famous Whig politician was Henry Clay and Lincoln worshiped him. Lincoln joined the Republicans in the mid 1850s after the Whigs collapsed under the weight of the slavery issue.

      An interesting and little known fact about Lincoln is that when he ran for reelection in 1864, it was under the name National Union Party, rather than Republican. By the 1868 election, the party was back calling itself Republican on the presidential election. In 1864, candidates on lower levels still called themselves Republicans. Lincoln ran under the new name in an attempt to gain support of Democrats. In this effort, Lincoln made an egregious political error with profound implications for the country. He picked as his vice-president Andrew Johnson, a southern senator from Tennessee, who refused to pledge his loyalty to the Confederacy. Johnson became president after Lincoln was assassinated and is generally viewed as one of the country’s worst presidents (up there with James Buchanan and Trump).

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted March 20, 2019 at 9:07 am | Permalink

        Also, the outlook for the re-election of Lincoln in 1864 was very bad and even he thought he would loose a few months before the election. That is why the political error to pick Johnson was made. Fortunately more Union wins started coming it, including the fall of Atlanta and the thoughts of loosing quickly disappeared.

  3. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    The schadenfreude over the chicken-pox guy is, as all too often, not quite clear-cut.

    It seems he is actually IN FAVOUR of vaccination (and his kids have been vaccinated), just not compulsory vaccination.

    I would enjoy much better unalloyed schadenfreude if an anti-vaxxer had been struck down.


    • GBJames
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      To my mind, anyone who favors any opt-out for vaccinations that aren’t for sound medical reasons is an anti-vaxxer. There are very few anti-vaxxers who will themselves own up to being anti-vaccination. They are all “for safe vaccination”, “for freedom of choice”, or some such.

      • Nobody Special
        Posted March 20, 2019 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

        Agreed, in the same way that there are very few self-labelled anti-abortionists but plenty of ‘pro-lifers’.
        Is it human nature to try to give one’s most negative opinions a positive label?

      • Nobody Special
        Posted March 20, 2019 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

        A second attemp at replying; my first try didn’t appear to have gone through. Anyhow….
        Agreed, just as there are very few who label themselves ‘anti-abortion’, preferring instead the more reasonable sounding ‘pro-life’.
        Is it perhaps human nature to attempt the disguise of one’s negativity by giving it a more reasonable-sounding title?

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted March 20, 2019 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

        But it still is a moot point. I tend to go for obligatory vaccination, for 2 reasons:
        – Are delusional parents allowed to make decisions that go against the -well established interest of their children?
        – Does the interest of the community (herd immunity) not take precedence over an individual opinion?

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Do not forget that Abe Lincoln was a member of that [Republican] party.

    “Most people don’t know that,” according to one astute observer of American history.

    • merilee
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      Ack, ruined my morning with the video of “the astute observer”🙀
      The possoms and kitties and wolves made up for it, though.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted March 20, 2019 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        According to the Trump-to-plain-English translator, “Not many people know …” means “I just myself found out …”

        • merilee
          Posted March 20, 2019 at 2:47 pm | Permalink


    • Posted March 20, 2019 at 9:18 am | Permalink


      • Posted March 20, 2019 at 9:19 am | Permalink

        I got it. You just misspelled it.
        It is spelled ass-toot.
        There I fixed it .

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Yes, Dugout Doug’s reputation hit new lows in 1942 with his retreat to Australia after loosing nearly all the airplanes on the ground destroyed by the Japanese before they even took off. He would return in Korea to reach even further lows if that could be possible. Many probably don’t know that Macarther was issued the Metal of Honor for his great job in loosing the Philippines.

  6. Posted March 20, 2019 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    I too always count the 21st as the arrival of spring, but the equinox is today, so I’ll take it!!

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      Autumn is coming here …😒

      • Posted March 20, 2019 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

        Understood! We lived in Argentina for an academic year and quickly realized our North American biases 🙂

  7. Posted March 20, 2019 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    But she can only take on step.
    Very clever caption.

    • Posted March 20, 2019 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      Sorry, she can go as far as she likes. it’s the king who only moves one space. Got them confused.

      I don’t play a lot of chess.

  8. rickflick
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    The queen can move in any direction, and the bishop beside her can only move diagonally. She smiles with pleasure at the thought.

    • Posted March 20, 2019 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      Never trust people who only move at angles. Stay with people or pieces that move straight forward.

      I always tried to capture my opponents bishops as soon as I could. Never liked those sneaky pieces.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted March 20, 2019 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        Moreover, bishops can only move on one color, either black or white. White as well as black have a white and a black bishop. Have no idea what the implications are in the ‘greater scheme of things’ though.
        The actual sneaky pieces are the horses, they can reach any field two squares away that cannot be reached straight or diagonally. So they change colour at every move. (That is 8 squares, if two or more squares from the sides). Even experienced chess players are (albeit rarely) caught out. Bishops are comparatively simple and predictable.

        • Posted March 20, 2019 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

          In theory you are right, but I was more often done in by the bishops than the knights. Probably a specific defect in my game.

        • rickflick
          Posted March 20, 2019 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

          Bishops are comparatively simple and predictable.

          That might be the most salient implication of the whole discussion.

        • Nicolaas Stempels
          Posted March 20, 2019 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

          Note, I prefer’horse to ‘knight’. The rooks used to be called elephants, if I’m not mistaken.

  9. Marion
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    That’s a sea lion, not a seal.

  10. clau
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Omg, the wolves! How wonderful to be that woman getting all that wolf-y love!

    • Posted March 20, 2019 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

      Also, the wagging tails are wonderful. I read somewhere that tail-wagging is an immature trait in wild canids, and not done by adults. So I surmise they were greeting “Mom” there.

      • merilee
        Posted March 20, 2019 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

        So much like our beloved pups.

  11. Glen
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    > Only one more day until formal Spring, as it’s March 20, 2019.

    Pretty sure Spring starts today (6:58 Chicago time).

    • David Harper
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Yes, it does. Her Majesty’s Nautical Almanac Office and the United States Naval Observatory concur that the equinox occurs at 21:58 GMT today, 20 March.

      I am curious as to why PCC(E) holds to the belief that the equinox must be on 21 March. That is, of course, the fixed date adopted by the Catholic Church centuries ago for the purpose of calculating the date of Easter, but I doubt very much that PCC(E) would bow to their “authority”.

      In fact, as I noted in a comment to yesterday’s Hili Dialogue, the equinox last fell on 21 March in 2003, and will not do so again until the early 22nd century. This is because the civil calendar is slowly drifting out of synch with the astronomical seasons, so the equinox is now mostly on 20 March, and increasingly as early as 19 March as the current century progresses. When the leap day is omitted in 2100, the equinox will jump to 20/21 March again.

  12. Posted March 20, 2019 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Striped badgers, striped humans. Convergent phenotype? 😉

  13. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Did you know there were marine mites? I didn’t, and Matthew calls them to our attention:

    Matthew Cobb

    So this is a *marine* mite. An arachnid that went back into the sea!

    I didn’t know about them until the other clade of possible return-to-water arachnid was just now established, the horseshoe crab [ ].

    “In spite of uncertainty in the placement of some arachnid clades, all analyses show Xiphosura consistently nested within Arachnida as the sister group to Ricinulei (hooded tick spiders). It is apparent that the radiation of Arachnids is an old one and occurred over a brief period of time, …”.

    May explain why they lay eggs on shore. Nevertheless ecology is mostly crazy: arachnids returned to water several times, insects never [?]. Why is that!?

  14. Posted March 20, 2019 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    I am glad that we have a follow-up on Pi.

    Nice photos by Mary Ellen Mark!

  15. jahigginbotham
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Ah, good old Polar Zoo employee Anita the wolf handler returns after two months away.
    Caution: you are not allowed in the wolf visit area if you are taking blood thinners. Also your eyes must be uncovered and visible.

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