Friday: Hili dialogue

It’s the end of the week: Friday, May 17, 2019, and National Cherry Cobbler Day. It’s also International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).

I’m pleased to announce that all ten ducklings in Botany Pond are alive, eating well, and thriving.  As Grania said, “A load of happy ducks is a good Friday indeed.” Here are two:

Not much happened on this day in history. On May 17, 1792, the New York Stock Exchange was formed. In 1875, the first Kentucky Derby was won by the horse Aristides. Back then the race was a mile and a half; now it’s a mile and a quarter.  On this day in 1900, the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published in the U.S. As Wikipedia notes, “The first copy is given to L. Frank Baum’s (the author’s) sister.

On May 17, 1902, the Greek archaeologist Valerios Stais came into possession of the Antikythera mechanism, found by sponge divers off the eponymous island. The marvelous computer was designed to predict astronomical phenomena, like the movement of planets, and was made between 200 BC and 85 BC. Here’s the original, badly corroded, and a 2007 re-creation:

On this day in 1954, the U.S. Supreme court handed down one of the most important decisions in modern times: a unanimous ruling in the case of Brown v. Board of Education , that segregated schools, even if “equal”, are unconstitutional. In 1973, televised hearings from the Senate began about the Watergate scandal. In 1990, the World Health Organization eliminated homosexuality from its list of “psychiatric diseases,” and, 14 years later to the day, the first legal same-sex marriages were performed in the U.S.—in Massachusetts.

Finally, exactly ten years ago, Minecraft released what is now known as the “Minecraft Classic” game. As Grania is a gamer, I asked her to describe it to me:

It’s the most successful game of all time, a 3D block game (sort of like electronic Lego) in an infinite procedurally-generated world. Microsoft eventually bought it from its creator Markus Persson (more commonly known as Notch) in 2014 for $2.5 billion. it is constantly updated (for free to purchasers) and therefore has changed dramatically since its early days. The older version is here, and the newer version is here.
Notables born on this day include Edward Jenner (1749), Erik Satie (1866), Birgit Nilsson (1918), Dennis Hopper (1936), Craig Ferguson (1962), and Andrea Corr (1974).

Those who fell asleep on May 17 include Sandro Botticelli (1510), John Jay (1829), Gunnar Myrdal (1987, Nobel Laureate), Lawrence Welk (1992), Tony Randall (2004), Harmon Killebrew (2011), and Donna Summer (2012).

On the day Killebrew died in 2011, I wrote a post that included this:

In 1972 I lived in New York City, working at a hospital as a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War.  I used to take long walks through Manhattan, and would carry some journals with me to read during breaks.  On this occasion I was strolling in front of the Plaza Hotel and noticed a huge bus disgorging sportsmen, who were surrounded by a pack of kids. It was the Minnesota Twins, in town to play the Yankees.  I recognized Killebrew (he was a big guy) and joined the throng around him for autographs.  When my turn came, I proffered the only thing I had to autograph: a copy of the March, 1972 issue of Genetics. (It must have been April then: the 1972 Twins schedule shows them in New York from April 28-April 30).

When Killebrew took the journal to sign his name, he turned it over and saw the title.  He looked quizzical.  I told him, “It’s a science journal, Mr. Killebrew.  I’m a geneticist.”  He looked at me as if I were nuts, but signed it anyway.  This has to be the only copy of a scientific journal signed by a Baseball Hall of Famer!

And here’s my precious copy (I wonder if it’s worth anything. . . ):


Grania informs us that Grumpy Cat died several days ago:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is being a feline Diogenes:

Hili: We have to look the truth in the eye.
A: Do you see the truth?
Hili: No, for the moment it’s not visible anywhere.
In Polish:
Hili: Musimy spojrzeć prawdzie w oczy.
Ja: Widzisz prawdę?
Hili: Nie, chwilowo nigdzie jej nie widać.

Here’s a pious cat (Pope Mittens the First?) from Facebook:

And an appropriate post from the Feminist News Facebook page (h/t: Casey):

A tweet from Nilou, Corvid Fan:

Tweets from Grania. First, the remarkable acrobatic ability of cats:

I’m with Nichols!

A needy alpaca:

Tardigrades are awesome, but as to what’s going on here, I have no idea:

Why didn’t I think of this?

Tweets from Matthew. I’m there!!!

I wish I had one of these. It would be fantastic to show to an evolution class:

I haven’t yet read this paper, but perhaps some readers can tell us what they were subsisting on before humans:

Matthew got his Preshusssss. . . .


  1. Historian
    Posted May 17, 2019 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    The bizarre nature of Trumpland has become more apparent than ever. Many of Trump’s judicial nominees have refused to acknowledge that the Brown decision was decided rightly. Apparently, the nominees are afraid that if they should opine on Brown, they would be compelled to give their views on Roe v Wade. I think that many of these far right nominees actually do not believe in the Brown decision. It is clear that no matter when Trump leaves office, his judicial nominees, confirmed by the toady Republican Senate, will haunt the nation for decades to come. Much of the Trump legacy will not be able to be undone. Future generations will reap the sad consequences.

    The Washington Post discusses the situation:

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted May 17, 2019 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      Just as Roe has been eroded over time, Brown has been clearly set back and nearly erased. With or without help from the supreme court, the conservatives win these social issues. Everyone pulls their hair out worried about what the court will do as if it made all the difference. It clearly does not. I guess it just makes for good conversation.

  2. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 17, 2019 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    On this day in 1954, the U.S. Supreme court handed down one of the most important decisions in modern times: a unanimous ruling in the case of Brown v. Board of Education

    Won’t someone please send a copy of Earl Warren’s opinion, and of the parties’ briefs, and of the psychological studies cited therein conducted by husband & wife team Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark, to the proponents of “affinity housing”?

  3. DrBrydon
    Posted May 17, 2019 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Well, cats do have that whole infallibility thing. My best friend has one of those ear thingees.

  4. rickflick
    Posted May 17, 2019 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Hili’s comment about the absence of truth is a stubborn truth.

    The raven and cat image sent me to YouTube. Here’s a pretty good collection of raven videos to generate grins:

  5. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted May 17, 2019 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    A lovely collection of tweets today.

    That ‘Poe’ tweet, the expression on the face of the cat is perfect.

    Those cats on the ceiling, their strength is extraordinary. And they show absolutely no fear of heights.

    And that alpaca moves irresistibly like a pantomime horse. It is one of the unconvincing animal costumes I’ve ever seen. Are we sure there aren’t a couple of short people in there?


    • merilee
      Posted May 17, 2019 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      😂 loved the alpaca’s galumphing!

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 17, 2019 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    This has to be the only copy of a scientific journal signed by a Baseball Hall of Famer!

    Would that I had a copy of Nature autographed by Satchel Paige right now, so I could slap it down like a straight flush topping four aces! 🙂

    • John Conoboy
      Posted May 17, 2019 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      Looks like a Killebrew signature, on an index card, goes for about $50-60.

  7. Posted May 17, 2019 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    An interesting thing about the Minecraft game. It is mind-blowing to look at this link, which shows the relative scale of things in the universe:
    Zoom out until you get to Neptune, and look to the left of that planet. There is a surprise waiting there.

  8. Larry Smith
    Posted May 17, 2019 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Re: preauricular sinus (ear hole): the only thing cooler than having one yourself is if Kenneth Ham had one! And people kept asking him, “Didn’t that used to be a fish gill?”

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted May 17, 2019 at 11:45 am | Permalink


  9. Larry Smith
    Posted May 17, 2019 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Speaking of Neil Shubin, I recently played a chess game against a young college-age player whose last name was Shuben. Before our game, I casually remarked he had (essentially) the same name as Neil Shubin, author of “Your Inner Fish.” My opponent replied, “We learned that in our science class!” I don’t know whom of us was more gobsmacked for knowing who the heck Shubin was!

  10. Posted May 17, 2019 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    “It’s rare- only about 0.1% of Americans (1% EUs, 2.5% Asians, 4% Africans) have it.”

    Why is there a huge difference between the EU and Americans when the solid majority of Americans are pretty much just a few generations apart from Europeans? Or they mean Native Americans? Or just unreliable sampling?
    Also what they mean by Asians? It is not a meaningful population category when somebody talks about genetic traits that differ between populations. Most West Asians are closer to Europeans than to East Asians.

  11. Posted May 17, 2019 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Seems obvious that those wondering about bedbug hosts should be looking at when beds evolved! 😉

    • Posted May 17, 2019 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      I was going to say something like the below before you beat me:

      “Bedbugs before beds? Another evolutionary impossibility. Checkmate, atheists!”

  12. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted May 17, 2019 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Eric Satie is one of the most brilliant composers ever, he was a proponent of what he called the ‘simple music’, and how great he was at apparently simple music. His Gymnopédies are haunting.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted May 17, 2019 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Especially the passage starting at 3:35 will linger in your brain forever.

  13. Posted May 17, 2019 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    Hnnh… I wonder how much a Buybull signed by Drumpf is worth.

    I have one of those earholes, but mine is the remnant of a d*g bite.

    That pious cat is really Pope Felix the Furst.

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