Friday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

Professor Ceiling Cat here, with thanks to Grania for taking over Hili yesterday. It’s Friday, May 24, 2019: the end of another work week. It’s National Escargot Day, (I’ve had snails once and didn’t like them), and National Brothers Day, so fête your brother (I’m one!).

Today’s big news is that British Prime Minister Theresa May has resigned, never able to overcome the Brexit debacle nor offer an acceptable plan for leaving. Who will succeed her? Will it be Boris Johnson, the UK’s answer to Donald Trump? Stay tuned.

I’m visiting Salem today with my hosts, so posting will be thin. On the other hand, I’ll get some good pictures, as well as fried clams at Woodman’s of Essex, the greatest clam shack in New England, founded in 1914. Their fried clams come with chips and onion rings:

There’s a lot of news from this day in history. On May 24, 1607, 100 English settlers landed at Jamestown, Virginia, which became the first permanent English colony in America. 19 years later to the day, Peter Minuit bought Manhattan from the local Native Americans. It was a great bargain at the reported $23 in trade goods. As Wikipedia reports:

Minuit is credited with purchasing the island of Manhattan from the Native Americans in exchange for traded goods valued at 60 guilders. According to the writer Nathaniel Benchley, Minuit conducted the transaction with Seyseys, chief of the Canarsees, who were only too happy to accept valuable merchandise in exchange for an island that was mostly controlled by the Weckquaesgeeks.

The figure of 60 guilders comes from a letter by a representative of the Dutch States-General and member of the board of the Dutch West India Company, Pieter Janszoon Schagen, to the States-General in November 1626. In 1846, New York historian John Romeyn Brodhead converted the figure of Fl 60 (or 60 guilders) to US$23.The popular account rounds this off to $24. By 2006 sixty guilders in 1626 was worth approximately $1,000 in current dollars, according to the Institute for Social History of Amsterdam.

On this day in 1683, the world’s first university museum opened: the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. In 1738, John Wesley was converted to “Methodism” from the Church of England. And in 1830, the poem  “Mary Had a Little Lamb” was published; the author was Sarah Josepha Hale.

On May 24, 1844, Samuel Morse sent the telegraph message “What hath God Wrought” (Numbers 23;23): the first words sent over the first commercial single-wire telegraph line, which transmitted between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.  But of course God wrought nothing: Morse did.

On this day in 1883, the world’s most beautiful bridge, New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge, opened after 14 years of construction.  Here it is:

On this day in 1935, the first night game in major league baseball was played, with the Cincinnati Reds, playing at home, beating the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1. On May 24, 1940, two things happened: Igor Sikorsky piloted the first successful flight of a single rotor helicopter, and the first (and unsuccessful) assassination attempt of Trotsky took place in Mexico City. The assassin, acting on orders of Stalin, escaped. But the second attempt succeeded: on August 20, Trotsky was whacked in the head with an ice axe and died the next day.

Here’s Sikorsky in his helicopter (although it was called “single rotor”, that was the main rotor; there was also a tail rotor):

Source: Connecticut Historical Society

On May 24, 1956, the first Eurovision Song Contest was held in Lugano, Switzerland. Does anybody remember who won? And exactly two decades later, the famous blind wine-tasting, the “the Judgment of Paris, took place in France, with California wines beating the best of France.

Finally, it was on this day 20 years ago the the International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague indicted Slobodan Milošević and four others for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Kosovo.

Notables born on this day include William Whewell (1794), Queen Victoria (1819), Jan Smuts (1870), Jane Byrne (1933),Tommy Chong (1938), Bob Dylan (1941), and Kristen Scott Thomas (1960).

I have to mention that yesterday, as his owner says, “Maru has become 12.” (The video is called “I am Maru 12.”)

In honor of the birthday of Maru, the world’s most famous Internet cat, here’s his owner’s celebratory video, showing highlights of the chubby Scottish fold’s last dozen years. And remember Maru’s motto, “When I see a box, I must enter.” (His second motto is “I do my best.”) Thanks to Grania for finding this:

Deaths on this day were thin on the ground; they include William Lloyd Garrison (1879), John Foster Dulles (1959), and Duke Ellington (1974).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili got a real treat (Cyrus got one too):

A: I bought a nice piece of beef. I can share it with you.
Hili: An excellent idea.
In Polish:
Ja: Kupiłem ładny kawałek wołowiny. Mogę się z tobą podzielić.
Hili: Znakomity pomysł.

In Leon’s future home nearby, he wait for the sun (like My Cat Jeoffry, he loves the sun and the sun loves him):

Leon: The sun should be there by now.

Leon: Teraz tam powinno być słońce.

From reader Barry; look at this video of a playful squirrel!

Nilou sends a pair of affectionate ducklings:

Tweets from Grania. Well, if they say this is a first, I’ll take their word for it:

And look at the ears on these serval kittens:

More adventures of a badger family that hangs around its staff:

Someone actually embroidered all the frames of a cartoon, and it’s a cat cartoon!

Tweets from Matthew. Look at this hybridization between ducks. But I’m not sure that the hybrids are fertile. If they are, and that’s what this figure what it implies, then they aren’t complete biological species, but they are close. If this reflects past hybridization and they no longer exchange genes, they are now full biological species.

I think this counts as real tool use:

What is this monotreme eating?

I may post this series of botfly videos, but I’m jealous because I don’t even have a photo of the one that was in my head.


  1. Barry Lyons
    Posted May 24, 2019 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    Two things: a) my sister lives in Salem, and b) Woodman’s is great!

  2. Posted May 24, 2019 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Mary had a little lamb
    One foot was black as soot
    And everywhere that lamb did go
    His sooty foot he put.

    • Posted May 24, 2019 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      Mary had a little lamb,
      Its wool was white and wavy.
      Then one day we slaughtered it
      And ate it with some gravy.

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted May 24, 2019 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        Mary had a little lamb,
        She also had a bear.
        I’ve often seen her little lamb;
        I’ve never seen her bear.

  3. Posted May 24, 2019 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    I have to respectfully disagree- the most beautiful bridge in the world is the Forth Rail Bridge! Going across it on the train is a great experience. I’ve done it loads, and it never gets boring. The views of the Firth of Forth, the endless blue waters on either side, the sight of navy destroyers in the port at Rosyth…marvellous!

    And what’s more, Darwin, while studying at Edinburgh (before he abandoned his medical studies there for Cambridge), spent time studying invertebrates in the Firth, so I always reflect on that when crossing too. Some info on this, and his other Edinburgh activities, from Wikipedia:

    ‘Darwin spent the summer of 1825 as an apprentice doctor, helping his father treat the poor of Shropshire, before going to the University of Edinburgh Medical School (at the time the best medical school in the UK) with his brother Erasmus in October 1825. Darwin found lectures dull and surgery distressing, so he neglected his studies. He learned taxidermy in around 40 daily hour-long sessions from John Edmonstone, a freed black slave who had accompanied Charles Waterton in the South American rainforest.

    In Darwin’s second year at the university he joined the Plinian Society, a student natural-history group featuring lively debates in which radical democratic students with materialistic views challenged orthodox religious concepts of science. He assisted Robert Edmond Grant’s investigations of the anatomy and life cycle of marine invertebrates in the Firth of Forth, and on 27 March 1827 presented at the Plinian his own discovery that black spores found in oyster shells were the eggs of a skate leech. One day, Grant praised Lamarck’s evolutionary ideas. Darwin was astonished by Grant’s audacity, but had recently read similar ideas in his grandfather Erasmus’ journals.Darwin was rather bored by Robert Jameson’s natural-history course, which covered geology—including the debate between Neptunism and Plutonism. He learned the classification of plants, and assisted with work on the collections of the University Museum, one of the largest museums in Europe at the time.

    Darwin’s neglect of medical studies annoyed his father, who shrewdly sent him to Christ’s College, Cambridge, to study for a Bachelor of Arts degree as the first step towards becoming an Anglican country parson.’

    • Posted May 24, 2019 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      I’m not sure I’d describe the Forth rail bridge as beautiful except in an imposing engineering sense, but the Brooklyn Bridge looks like a run-of-the-mill suspension bridge to me. compare it to the Clifton Bridge which, to my eye is more elegant and certainly in a better location.

      • Pierluigi Ballabeni
        Posted May 24, 2019 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        To me, the most beautiful bridge is the Millau viaduct in France.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 24, 2019 at 8:37 am | Permalink

          Millau is the world’s tallest bridge (to the top of the towers), though not the highest deck or the highest above river level. Check out for some breathtaking modern bridges, many of them in China.

          But Millau is impressive from any direction, whether seen from a distance floating above the valley, or from close up soaring into the sky. And it looks equally good from any direction too, it doesn’t have a ‘bad angle’.


        • Nicolaas Stempels
          Posted May 24, 2019 at 11:06 am | Permalink

          Beautiful indeed, but what about those Byzantine stone arched bridges?

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted May 24, 2019 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

            Care to give an example?

            A different sort of beauty, I think, but there are many ways for a bridge to be beautiful, and comparing different types is not really feasible.

            With the really big ones, even the surrounding landscape influences their ‘beauty’ and vice versa. They have become part of the landscape.


      • Posted May 24, 2019 at 9:57 am | Permalink

        And the Menai Straight bridge!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 24, 2019 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      I entirely agree that the Forth Bridge is the most beautiful historic bridge in the world. It is certainly the most distinctive. When seen in profile from a distance those huge members are majestic and graceful.

      It’s sad that the perspective has been marred by a couple of modern bridges erected near it.

      And it’s a visual textbook in structures – the compression members are tubular (which gives the most efficient form for bucking resistance) while the tension members (which don’t need buckling resistance) are lattice. It was also, of course, not only the longest span in the world at the time, but a pioneer in the use of steel (as opposed to cast or wrought iron).

      Naming the ‘most beautiful bridge’ is a highly subjective exercise, though. I think in modern times a cable-stayed bridge might well take the laurels. There are plenty to choose from and the cable-stayed form has allowed designers to exercise a variety in the shapes of the towers and the fan of the cables, sometimes elegant, sometimes perversely bizarre. For a representative of the elegant, couldn’t do better than Millau Viaduct, which is also the tallest bridge in the world –

      Though personally I have a liking for the cleanness and elegance of some of the German motorway viaducts like Kochertal:


    • rickflick
      Posted May 24, 2019 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      Not, perhaps, the most beautiful bridge in the world. Some think it’s ugly. Not me. I came to greatly appreciate the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge, which I lived near for many years. It was built in about 1889 but in the 1990s was converted to a walkway. Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park.

      The Poughkeepsie Bridge, 1973

    • Posted May 24, 2019 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      Much better than the Third Rail Bridge!

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 24, 2019 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        Where is that? Google doesn’t give any clue.


        • Posted May 28, 2019 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

          The Forth replaced the Third, duh.

  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 24, 2019 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Going to Salem…yet another witch hunt?

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 24, 2019 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    And exactly two decades later, the famous blind wine-tasting, the “the Judgment of Paris, took place in France, with California wines beating the best of France.

    There’s a pretty cool little feature film based on those events, Bottle Shock, featuring Alan Rickman as the Brit oenophile who organizes the competition and Bill Pullman as the paterfamilias of the winning Napa winery.

    Flick unfortunately never really caught on with audiences or critics.

    • Andy Lowry
      Posted May 24, 2019 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      Great movie! And I miss Mr. Rickman.

    • Posted May 24, 2019 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Yes, Bottle Shock (unlike Sideways) is an excellent movie.

      • merilee
        Posted May 24, 2019 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

        Put a hold on it at my library. Love Rickman!

  6. Pierluigi Ballabeni
    Posted May 24, 2019 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    “On May 24, 1956, the first Eurovision Song Contest was held in Lugano, Switzerland. Does anybody remember who won? ”

    Lys Assia from Switzerland.

    • merilee
      Posted May 24, 2019 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      Trevor Noah just featured the recent very weird Icelandic winners.

  7. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 24, 2019 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Escargot in mushroom caps
    garlic mushroom sauce
    sourdough bread

    You cannot go wrong.

  8. Pierluigi Ballabeni
    Posted May 24, 2019 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    “On May 24, 1956, the first Eurovision Song Contest was held in Lugano, Switzerland. Does anybody remember who won? ”

    Lya Assia from Switzerland.

  9. Historian
    Posted May 24, 2019 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Samuel F.B. Morse is known today for inventing the telegraph and for little else. However, in his time Morse was known also for being virulently anti-Catholic and pro-slavery. Here are some quotes from Wikipedia:


    “Morse was a leader in the anti-Catholic and anti-immigration movement of the mid-19th century.”

    “Morse worked to unite Protestants against Catholic institutions (including schools), wanted to forbid Catholics from holding public office, and promoted changing immigration laws to limit immigration from Catholic countries. On this topic, he wrote, ‘We must first stop the leak in the ship through which muddy waters from without threaten to sink us.’”

    “In the 1850s, Morse became well known as a defender of slavery, considering it to be sanctioned by God.”


    Morse is an example of how the issues of today are often echoes of debates that have long gone on. Racial, ethnic, and religious conflict in the United States is nothing new. We have perhaps made some progress in resolving these issues, but we have a long way to go. The attraction of tribalism with its concomitant need to express its superiority over others probably had evolutionary advantages through much of human history and thus is most difficult to break.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted May 24, 2019 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      Sounds as if Morse would have been a good recruit for facebook and twitter.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted May 24, 2019 at 8:45 am | Permalink

        Gee, you don’t trash Historian for quoting Wikipedia.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted May 24, 2019 at 11:02 am | Permalink

          Having a problem today are we?

          • Jenny Haniver
            Posted May 26, 2019 at 12:57 am | Permalink

            No, I’m asking you a question. You excoriated me as an ignorant and credulous doofus for quoting Wikipedia; yet I notice you don’t slime others. I wonder why?

    • Posted May 24, 2019 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      Morse was also a prominent painter.

  10. Andy Lowry
    Posted May 24, 2019 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    My cat sometimes brings me a squirrel, which I then must somehow catch and get back outside. This can result in both frustration and hilarity. After seeing the squirrel video, I’m keeping the next one.

    Why he doesn’t kill and eat tree squirrels, I don’t know. He has no such compunctions about ground squirrels.

  11. Jenny Haniver
    Posted May 24, 2019 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Re “My Cat Jeoffry,” the poet Robert Pinsky has a brief appreciation of the poem here

  12. merilee
    Posted May 24, 2019 at 10:03 am | Permalink


  13. Posted May 24, 2019 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Duck hybrids tend to be fertile, but the males at least find it very difficult to get mates because they don’t look right to the females of either parental species.

    Females tend to produce at least some offspring because even if they don’t find a mate, ducks rape pretty indiscriminately.

    • Posted May 24, 2019 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      Therefore, gene flow among duck species is seriously restricted. They’re not all one species.

  14. Mark R.
    Posted May 24, 2019 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    That Maru is something else!

  15. Mark R.
    Posted May 24, 2019 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    If you make it to the south end, try B & G Oysters: 550 Tremont st. The best lobster rolls on the planet, plus loads of other great food. It’s “high end” but well worth every penny.

  16. Steve Pollard
    Posted May 24, 2019 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Yes, the Blessed Theresa has resigned, and already the delusional and the incompetent are lining up to succeed her.

    Boris has one thing going for him, which is that he is by instinct a social liberal, and might just be better at reaching out to a wider community than some of the others.

    Set against that, he is lazy, unwilling to concentrate or study issues seriously (his so-called history writings are very superficial), and shoots his mouth off without engaging his brain. His European counterparts regard him with contempt.

    The few Tories I respect are either not running or have no chance. Oh dear!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 24, 2019 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

      “Set against that, he is lazy, unwilling to concentrate or study issues seriously […] and shoots his mouth off without engaging his brain.”

      Sounds very like someone else we know with similarly weird hair.

      But hopefully the Boris has more common sense than to start trade wars with China.


      • merilee
        Posted May 24, 2019 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

        Much shooting off of mouth but nowhere near as weird hair. T’s would be hard to beat🤯

  17. Posted May 25, 2019 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful landscape around Leon!

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