Thursday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

It’s Thursday, May 9, 2019, and National Shrimp Day. It’s also Victory Day, celebrating the end of the war in Europe, including the victory of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany (see below). This holiday is celebrated in Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

Nobody is reading the science posts and I am sad.

On this day in 1671, Thomas Blood tried to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. He failed and was caught, but, oddly, was not only pardoned but rewarded with land and money.

On May 9, 1926, according to Wikipedia, ” Admiral Richard E. Byrd and Floyd Bennett claim to have flown over the North Pole (later discovery of Byrd’s diary appears to cast some doubt on the claim.)” It looks as if Byrd may have falsified his sextant data. If so, then the first to really succeed in this flight were Roald Amundsen, Umberto.Nobile, Oscar Wisting, and Lincoln Ellsworth, who flew over the Pole just a few days later: May 12, 1926.


On May 9, 1945, the final German Instrument of Surrender was signed at the Soviet headquarters in Berlin-Karlshorst, ending World War II in Europe. On this day in 1958, Alfred Hitchcock’s famous film Vertigo opened in San Francisco. Here’s the official trailer:

On May 9, 1960, the FDA announced that it was giving the first approval of an oral contraceptive: Searle’s Enovid birth-control pill. 14 years later, the House Committee on the Judiciary opened impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon. Nixon resigned on August 9 before the proceedings finished (they became moot at that point), and was later pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford.

Finally, on this day in 1979, according to Wikipedia, “Iranian Jewish businessman Habib Elghanian [was] executed by firing squad in Tehran, prompting the mass exodus of the once 100,000-strong Jewish community of Iran.” There are very few Jews left in Iran now.

Notables born on this day include John Brown (1800), Howard Carter (1874), Mike Wallace (1918), Richard Adams (1920), Sophie Scholl (1921), Manfred Eigen (1927, Nobel Laureate), Albert Finney and Glenda Jackson (both 1936), Richie Furay (1944), and Billy Joel (1949).

And Matthew notes the birthday of one of his scientific heroes, Heinrich Matthaei, who is 90 today. Matthaei, as the tweet notes, was the first to see that a nucleotide triplet coded for a particular amino acid (UUU = phenylalanine). Matthaei should have gotten the Nobel Prize for this work along with those who did win for deciphering the code, but was shut out. A travesty! You can read more about him in the article cited by Matthew, which is in fact Matthew’s piece in the Torygraph:

Those who died on May 9 include Friedrich Schiller (1805), Albert Abraham Michelson (1931, Nobel Laureate), Ulrike Meinhof (1976), James Jones (1977), Tenzing Norgay (1986), Russell Long (2003), Lena Horne (2010), and Vidal Sassoon (2012).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili gets fusses from a visitor:

Agata: Do you like to be petted?
Hili: Yes, but you may do it with greater intensity.
In Polish:
Agata: Lubisz jak cię głaszczą?
Hili: Tak, ale możesz to robić bardziej intensywnie.

And at his future home near Dobrzyn, the Dark Tabby makes a sage pronouncement:

Leon: The basis of every action is observation.

Leon: Podstawą każdego działania jest obserwacja.

From a cat’s diary, sent by reader Karl:

Another from Facebook:

A tweet contributed by reader Blue, and a pretty amazing display of strength and athleticism:

Reader Barry found this one, adding “Well, at least 57% of 22,531 people are idiots.”

A tweet from Matthew about Sir David’s birthday, which was yesterday:

More tweets from Matthew. Bad typo in this one!

But isn’t this what saints are for? To intercede for you?

This shows the profound gaps in the fossil record:

Tweets from Grania. I’m not sure whether this cat is normal:

This is quite a sneeze!

Seriously, is this a question even worth asking?

Paranoia ad infinitum: As far as I know, there have been exactly zero hyena attacks by the Zionist carnivore:



  1. Posted May 9, 2019 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    To which of the three typos* on the sign was Matthew Cobb referring?

    *or two typos with one being repeated.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 9, 2019 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      The first typo reminds me of a gal named “Virginia” in my old neighborhood growing up. The boys on the block called her “Virgin” for short, but not for long.

  2. merilee
    Posted May 9, 2019 at 7:00 am | Permalink


    • rickflick
      Posted May 9, 2019 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      You’re developing an accent. 😎

      • merilee
        Posted May 9, 2019 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        Just being thilly🤓

  3. enl
    Posted May 9, 2019 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    If the food came in the bag, I can certainly see why the cat would choose it over the nuggets sitting out.

    Or maybe the cat just wanted to be a living euphemism.

    • Posted May 9, 2019 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      Or maybe the nuggets were not tasty enough for a spoiled and sat cat (like mine).

  4. Matthew Cobb
    Posted May 9, 2019 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    I got the date of Matthaei’s discovery wrong in my tweet. It was on 27 May.

    • Posted May 9, 2019 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      It is difficult for me to imagine how people imagined the world before the Americas were known to Europeans, before germ theory was accepted, or before the genetic code was deciphered.

  5. Paul Techsupport
    Posted May 9, 2019 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    “Nobody is reading the science posts and I am sad”. Unfortunate but I wonder if your tracking system is flawed. I know I read many of the “science “ posts, Hili dialogue, Reader Wildlife, and many of your other posts on Gmail in their entirety. Never opening the link. I doubt there is any way my readership counts on your tracker. I doubt I am alone.
    I only “open” the posts and begin to be tracked when I want to see what others think of your post and go to “Reader Comments”

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted May 9, 2019 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      You are not alone, and I’ve never understood how there is a way to track reads (as opposed to comments or linking to specific tweets which those of us not following don’t get). But such comments have been made before, and no explanation has been provided…

      • Joseph McClain
        Posted May 9, 2019 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        I also read most of the science posts and read virtually all of the posts in the email. I only hit the link when I want to make a comment. If Prof. Ceiling Cat, Emeritus can tell who does or does not read emails by other than metaphysical means, then I have privacy concerns. If metaphysical means are used, then I have other concerns.

    • davidintoronto
      Posted May 9, 2019 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      Even if it’s the number of comments, what’s the yardstick for measuring “success”? I visit Phil Plait’s site; and most of the time the comments are in the single digits (sometimes it’s zero). Sean Carroll gets around 15-50 comments (depending on the topic). But he posts far less regularly than Plait; so there’s more time to accumulate responses.

    • Posted May 9, 2019 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      I am. I even try to convince myself that because there are scientific posts on WEIT (and science stuff in many other posts), reading it counts as doing work :-).

    • Posted May 9, 2019 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      I always make a point of opening the science posts in a browser even when I don’t actually read them. This is to do my bit in keeping the post count up. I’d hate for Jerry to stop doing them.

      • Torbjörn Larsson
        Posted May 12, 2019 at 6:59 am | Permalink

        Yes, me too; and most of the time I *make* time to read the, knowing how much time it takes to produce one and mostly being on subjects that I find interesting. If not before reading the post, while I am reading it!

    • JezGrove
      Posted May 9, 2019 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      I just came here to make the same point. I read all of the posts, but don’t always click through to the website unless I’m leaving a comment (which I’m unlikely to know enough about to do on the science topics), so maybe the page views are underestimated?

    • J Tomlin
      Posted May 9, 2019 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      I *ALWAYS* read and enjoy the science posts. They are the jewels of the WEIT site.

      I *NEVER* comment. (Well, almost never!)

      Please, Dr. Coyne, try not to be too discouraged by small numbers of comments!

    • Posted May 10, 2019 at 4:26 am | Permalink

      I have a tab on my mobile browser for this site specifically, but it’s on WordPress Reader mode so I’m not sure if my view is counted. I’m usually half a day late due to time zones as well.


  6. Bruce Thiel
    Posted May 9, 2019 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    The science posts are the “meat and potatoes” that bring many of us together here. Even though we “slop up the gravy” and enjoy the rest of the meal and the good company, doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate the cook. Many of us read them in the email format which probably doesn’t tally and rarely have anything to comment and/or don’t feel qualified to, so we don’t click the link. Stay true to your interests and roots. We appreciate and thank you!

    • W.Benson
      Posted May 9, 2019 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      I read or skim practically all the science posts. Great stuff. Also clicked to Matthew’s article on Heinrich Matthaei. I highly recommend it.

  7. Roger
    Posted May 9, 2019 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    My favorite scene from Vertigo is when Jimmy runs into the church and looks around for Kim and doesn’t know where the hell she is and then hears her running up the stairs. Ahaa there she is. No idea why that’s my favorite scene. The movie is so absurd that it tricks your mind into thinking it’s a great plot.

    • Roger
      Posted May 9, 2019 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      Perhaps “melodrama” is the correct term. Lay it on thick enough and you got yourself a classic.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted May 9, 2019 at 8:34 am | Permalink

        Yeah, I think that’s true of many Hitchcock films, which is a reason why, during his heyday, he was more a favorite of the fans rather than of the critics, who (except for the French auteurs-in-waiting at Cahiers du Cinema) considered him a mere “entertainer” rather than a serious filmmaker.

        That’s also why Hitchcock’s Hollywood contemporary, Douglas Sirk, wasn’t much appreciated by the critics of his day, either.

  8. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted May 9, 2019 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    “Nobody is reading the science posts and I am sad.”

    Could an interesting feature of science posts be a quiz? Akin to how the polls are run, readers could enter their answers and view the results right away, and gain Enlightenment Now.

    Sorry I couldn’t resist throwing that in at the end. But it’d be true!

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 9, 2019 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      Time to start eating our vegetables, or we could get sent to bed without dessert. 🙂

      • Posted May 10, 2019 at 4:28 am | Permalink

        What do you mean? The science posts are the dessert!


  9. Reggie
    Posted May 9, 2019 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    “Nobody is reading the science posts and I am sad”.
    Dear Prof(E)., I assume you mean the science posts you put up here on WEIT. I always read your posts but don’t comment as they’re generally way above my pay grade. However, I always enjoy them, learn from them and find that you cover subjects I would otherwise not be aware of. Don’t be downhearted as I suspect many of your readers are in the same position as me. Please keep the science posts coming.

    • Graham Martin-Royle
      Posted May 9, 2019 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      That’s me as well. keep em coming PCC(e).

  10. sgo
    Posted May 9, 2019 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    I think a lot of reading goes underreported. Posts appear in their whole on the main page, and that’s where I read most. That would mean they don’t count towards a particular post.

    I have been trying to make a point of clicking the science posts and then reading them, though.

  11. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted May 9, 2019 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    57% don’t think Arabic numerals should be taught.

    I expect about the same percentage can’t see any point in teaching Latin letters, either…


    • Filippo
      Posted May 9, 2019 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      I take it that the honorable Mr. Trueblood is sincere in his poll. That is, he is not pulling a Sokalesque hoax, to reveal Amuricuns’ ignorance about Arabic numerals. He has his own ministry (

      I wonder what numeral system he thinks he’s using.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 10, 2019 at 12:35 am | Permalink

        Roman, presumably. I doubt Wesley Trueblood III had 110 synonymous ancestors.



  12. Jenny Haniver
    Posted May 9, 2019 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    To mark National Shrimp Day, there’s always Jo Stafford singing “Shrimp Boats”

    However, the best shrimp song for my money is this one sung by Elvis Presley (imitating Harry Belafonte?). The lyrics are priceless.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 9, 2019 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      If that’s not a camp classic, it oughta be.

      • merilee
        Posted May 9, 2019 at 11:33 am | Permalink

        Camp classic +1

        • Frank Bath
          Posted May 9, 2019 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

          The clown prince of rock ‘n’ roll.

  13. Posted May 9, 2019 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    I count 10 in the picture. Perhaps you missed the one right behind the hen.

  14. Jenny Haniver
    Posted May 9, 2019 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Has the LA Times turned into the Huff Po or worse? Such idiocy is hard to take before coffee, and after coffee my mind swirls with ludicrous possibilities that are best left in my mind.

    I hope that Archie will be brought up knowledgeable about and comfortable with each strand of his ethnic roots, and not end up at war with himself and the world.

  15. Posted May 9, 2019 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Titania McGrath also had a tweet about raising the royal baby as black:

    • Neil Wolfe
      Posted May 9, 2019 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      I am the product of a mixed-gender relationship but my parents ultimately decided to raise me as male. I’m sure it was a difficult decision considering exactly half of my ancestors are female. I’m just glad society is finally becoming more accepting.

      • Posted May 9, 2019 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        Same here! You are not alone, buddy.

      • Torbjörn Larsson
        Posted May 12, 2019 at 7:08 am | Permalink

        That is the only sane reaction, I think. I had to dig into memory to remember that Markle is immigrant, so I have to assume this is an issue raised [sic!] by racists for some reason or other?

        ADDED: Yup, seems it could be the case: “Markle was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and has a mixed ethnic heritage.” [,_Duchess_of_Sussex ]

    • Posted May 9, 2019 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      Long live Titania!

  16. Posted May 9, 2019 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I have never understood how WordPress counts the views. I assume it is when someone clicks to read the post. But what if you go back and read it several times? Does it count again when you check up see if there are new comments?

    Interesting that some people can read by email without having to click to open. Don’t see how those can be counted.

    • Posted May 9, 2019 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      It’s a very complex subject. It is probably best to just use them as relative indicators rather than accurate counts. If your page views double, say, that’s a good thing and, perhaps, you have twice as many readers.

      • Posted May 9, 2019 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        Agree. The relative amounts would likely be in the same ratio. Down in one indicator, views, would probably be matched in the other numbers.

        A lot if not most of the science is over my head but I have a general understanding of most of it.
        I have also read a number of the science books mentioned on the site. Very interesting an important work.

        • Posted May 9, 2019 at 10:07 am | Permalink

          Ernest Harben

  17. Posted May 9, 2019 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    All tetrapods might sneeze, but only one says gesundheit afterwards.

  18. Posted May 9, 2019 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Sir David. Happy Day for you. For every day I hear your voice is a happy day for me.


  19. revelator60
    Posted May 9, 2019 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    As of 2012 Vertigo has been designated “the Greatest Film of All Time.” Ever since 1952, the British film magazine has conducted a once-a-decade poll of filmmakers, critics, and academics to determine “The Greatest Films of All Time.” There are many such polls, but S&S’s has always been the most impressive and authoritative, and it serves as a snapshot of what tastes were like in each decade. The number one film, from 1962 to 2002, was “Citizen Kane.” But in 2012 it was dethroned by “Vertigo.” I’m curious if it will retain that place in 2022!

    Here’s a link to the 2012 listing:

    • revelator60
      Posted May 9, 2019 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Whoops, I forgot to write that the “British film magazine” in question is “Sight and Sound.”

      Apologies for the brain fart.

    • rickflick
      Posted May 9, 2019 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      A couple of years ago I watched about 40 of BFI’s list. It was a very rewarding adventure. I would recommend these films as a basis for comparison for the films that came later.

    • Posted May 9, 2019 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      Lot of movies there I never heard of. And noticed some of the best ones were missing.

  20. Posted May 9, 2019 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Normally I do read and enjoy your science posts. However, I’ve been visiting relatives for over a week. Sorry. And please do keep posting them.

  21. openidname
    Posted May 9, 2019 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    Please don’t be sad! I read the science posts. I would be sad if they weren’t there anymore.

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