Sunday: Hili dialogue

November 6, 2016 • 6:30 am

by Grania

Good morning!

Today in 1528 Spanish conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca became the first known European to set foot in what is now Texas, thanks to a shipwreck.

In 1944 Plutonium was first produced at the Hanford Atomic Facility and was then used in the Fat Man bomb, one of which was detonated over Nagasaki.

It is also the birthday of Cuban-born Arturo Sandoval (1949) later defecting to the USA. Here he is playing “There Will Never Be Another You”.

My Twitter feed this last night was full of #BonfireNight bits of news and wisdom, mostly about fireworks, fire safety and food. It was heartening to see a lot of cautions about keeping wildlife safe, especially hedgehogs, but even insects were included.

There were educational posters:


And then there was this.


What could possibly go wrong? Anyway, people had fun.

In Dobrzyn the four-footed cousins are having a plaintive moment. It’s hard to judge what is the cause of their dismay. It may be something serious like a lack of an extra slice of ham at Second Breakfast.

Hili: It’s not going well, Cyrus.
Cyrus: I know, Hili.


In Polish:

Hili: Nie jest dobrze, Cyrusie.
Cyrus: Ja wiem, Hili.

50 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. QUOTE: Hili: Nie jest dobrze, Cyrusie.
    Cyrus: Ja wiem, Hili.

    Perhaps they are anticipating the US Election returns. It is well known that animals can detect the future, e.q. earthquakes.

    1. It’s a big display, for sure.
      Last New Year, the wife insisted that we head into London to watch the NY fireworks in central London. Got a good site up on Primrose Hill and some decent shots of the Moonrise. And also a few shots of the huge plume of smoke drifting SE over southern London. It must have covered several square miles. Lots of lovely chlorates, a little barium and strontium oxide dust. I’m sure that was terribly popular with the people in the smoke plume.
      It was the first time I’d thought about the pollution inherent in pyroclastics. By comparison, high explosives are relatively benign. (There’s a sentence you don’t see every day!) I don’t think I’ll be attending any more firework displays.
      (Getting out of middling London was … “interesting” too. Nose to nose to door pillar to boot for over an hour.)

      1. You’re sounding very curmudgeonly Aidan! 🙂

        I would have been on your wife’s side! I love me a fireworks display! Living in a tiny town I haven’t seen one for years, and so I always feel a bit disappointed on Guy Fawkes night.

        1. Oh, I quite enjoyed the fireworks, and the challenge of photographing them.
          But the smoke plume was also impressive, in a very unpleasant way.
          Plus, of course, you’re always on guard in crowds like that for pick-pockets. As the Metropolitan police signs all around the area warned you to be. Plenty of drunks. Plenty of tokers (less worrying than the drunks, until they fall over and knock another 15 people down into the mud). Nah – I just find crowds in cities very stressful.

          1. I don’t think you can count pickpockets against the fireworks, else you’d never travel on the Underground or the Paris Metro.

            But, displays aside, November 5th used to be so much better when I was a kid. Everyone in a neighbourhood used to gather in the local park and there’d be a good de facto display from their combined fireworks.

            Since then, the namby-pamby wowserish ‘fireworks safety’ mini-fascists have conducted a steady war on fireworks, for some reason the thought of people just having fun seems to offend their puritanical little parking-warden souls. Some of their kind in the city council have managed to ban fireworks in parks – so instead of having a nice event in a big open space, everyone has to let their fireworks off in their own backyard, the spectacle is partly hidden and frittered away. Fireworks are just as popular, judging by the numbers I see and hear going off all around, but the spectacle is sadly impaired.

            Screw the killjoys!


            1. for some reason the thought of people just having fun seems to offend their puritanical little parking-warden souls.

              I’ve had to dig a pit in a convenient flower bed to shove the burned hand into (coldest available thing – soil) while ignoring the screams of the wailing child and the distressed mother (who had no plan in mind, just screaming and hitting people trying to be effective).
              If you don’t have a ‘bang’ license (*) , don’t fuck with explosives with the pretence that you know what you’re doing. Because you almost certainly don’t know what the fuck you’re doing, and your string of “nothing happened on XXX” events is cumulative good luck, not good planning.
              (*) bang license : a certificate of your training and your permission to buy and use (but not store) high explosives such as PowerGel and GelIgnite.

              1. Yeah but – fireworks are *not* high explosive, any more than petrol (gasoline) is. They require some care in their use, but they are not going to blow your hand off or blow up your house – certainly not in normal domestic quantities. The primary risk is of burns, not blast.

                I’d choose a fireworks burn over a domestic boiling-water or cooking-oil scald, any day. Not that I’m recommending either, of course.


              2. You are in the 1% – in a good sense.
                They’re still dangerous enough to distrust, deeply.
                The increasing provision of electric deep-fat friars (with over-heat controls) suggests that the appliance market doesn’t disagree with you.

              3. I do agree fireworks require great caution – though as I said, more for their incendiary properties than their explosive ones. I think eye protection is probably the most essential aspect. I’m not sure you could get any other permanent or life-threatening injury from a domestic firework, though doubtless someone somewhere will manage to prove me wrong. I think flammable liquids are potentially much more dangerous if you get them on you.

                Of course local conditions and bulk effects play a big part as industrial safety inspectors know – you can blow a factory up with icing sugar or coal dust if you get the right concentration in the air…


              4. I’m not sure you could get any other permanent or life-threatening injury from a domestic firework

                I don’t know about America, but in the UK there are regular scares over the import of “Chinese” fireworks which are poorly labelled, poorly prepared, inconsistent, or intended for professional use but mis-sold to the general public.
                I have a former colleague who has the stumps of 3 fingers, 2/3 of a thumb and half a little finger on one hand due to a few tens of grammes of TNT in an ex-army shell which he was trying to steam out (he’d already got hundreds of grammes of TNT out of the shell and chucked it onto the bonfire). That’s well within the range of blast of the larger domestic and smaller professional fireworks. And even without nefarious intent, there remains the possibility of professional devices accidentally getting into the hands of amateurs.

              5. Re the guy’s fingers, TNT is a high explosive, gunpowder or its associates aren’t.

                There must have been something present to detonate the TNT. My father used to tell of a batch of TNT that was being disposed of safely by burning when some guy chucked a few rifle cartridges in. They buried him in bits.

                But again, gunpowder can’t be made to detonate and won’t produce a shock wave. I would, though, treat one of the big fireworks the professionals use for displays with extreme caution. As I would a rifle cartridge.


              6. The TNT was several decades old, had been buried in a marsh for most of that time until the (hand-built) metal detector located it, and there were probably the remains of the original detonator in there. Also several decades old.
                Still plenty to take Rod’s fingers off and leave him with a decade of reconstructive surgery to try to make the remaining wreckage into a usable hand.
                I learned my lessons with home-made low-explosives (chlorate-gunpowders have a noticeably chunkier punch than nitrate ones ; these days they put too much salt in the easily available stuff to get a good bang).

              7. Okay, very old explosives are an order of magnitude more tricky than new ones. There’s a chance something nasty may have crystallised out and breaking the crystals might be all the shock it needs to detonate.

                Chlorate certainly does give a lot more oomph than nitrate. Ever tried chlorate and aluminum dust? – the loose powder makes a mighty thunderflash. When I was young I used to make super-bangers out of it.


              8. Mix ground chlorate powder and aluminium powder *very carefully* in stoichiometric ratios, with a small amount of air-curing glue. Apply paste to heads of air rifle pellets (ummm, “BB” in EN_US?) ; tape paper target to brick wall. The pellets would take chunks about 8mm in diameter out of the brick.
                Scarily, the guy with the air rifle is now a policeman. I sincerely hope he didn’t apply for firearms training.

              9. I never had any trouble mixing chlorate and aluminium, it’s not a process that calls for Derek Lowe poetry. Thing is, most chemical oxidising mixtures, unconfined, won’t create a shock wave even if they do ignite – unlike disintegrating chemical compounds (i.e. high explosives).

                Hmmm, on a lead ‘bullet’ – I’m wondering if the friciton in the barrel might not set it off, though it’s Al vs Pb vs steel – dissimilar metals so I guess not spark-inducing. Still, an interesting application I’d never heard of.


              10. Making the mixture wasn’t too difficult. As long as you dry and powder th components separately, not together.
                I was surprised that the explosive-tipped airgun pellets worked. The failure rate (most likely, tip falls off in flight) was over 70%, but when it did work, you knew about it.

          2. .. err, ‘challenge’ of photographing them? Hardly. Like sunsets, almost any exposure setting, within reason, will work. Your results may vary but it will still look good. Many modern digital cameras have a ‘fireworks’ mode. The main challenge is to hold the camera steady enough for a slightly slow exposure, specially if you’re zoomed out – but, given the moving streaks of light in the image, even a small amount of camera movement will pass unnoticed for fireworks whereas, if you’re shooting city lights across a lake, any movement is conspicuous. Optical Image Stabilisation helps a lot though.


            1. Tripod, for sure (shoulder-braced against a convenient tree works too. Which is why I didn’t spend much time sliding in the sludge, unlike others.) Choosing when to hit the button … well, that’s the hard bit.

              1. Yes, though – if your finger is poised ready on the shutter – pressing the moment one of those starbursts goes off will usually capture it at its full extent. In the case of that spectacularly intense fireworks display in the twittergif, almost any moment would have worked.

                I do agree a tripod would help – even if you just let it dangle in the air to add some steadiness to the camera.

                (I take all my shots with a little pocket Panasonic TZ, which of course suffers from minimal inertia – well, phones are worse I guess but they don’t zoom. It really needs its image stabilisation).


              2. My camera (annoyingly) has about a 1/3 to 1/2 second pause between hitting the button and the camera shooting. I haven’t found a way to bypass this. Yet.

              3. On mine, if I just hit the button, there is a brief pause while it auto-focuses. If I half-depress the button to pre-focus, the pause disappears.

                However, sometimes with moving targets in dim lights, there is an appreciable pause while the camera tries to lock on to something. I hope and expect there’s some mode setting that gets around it, though I haven’t searched it out yet.


              4. Disabling autofocus may help. But that part-second delay is enough to mess up your timing.

  2. Apropos nothing in the above post, I must proudly announce that I have been banned from the WND Disqus page. In the comments under an article on Ray Comfort’s latest movie about atheism, someone was complaining about atheists pushing their views on others. I pointed out that this was an odd complaint, since, in the context of this film, it was in fact Comfort that was wandering the streets with a camera trying to argue others into accepting his point of view. This, apparently, constituted a grievous affront to their alternate view of the universe.

    And here I had just nicely healed from the FTB porcupine quills in my rectum.

    Reality. It’s not for everyone.

        1. To quote Douglas Adams on Dentarthurdent’s first meeting with the IID, “Probability level 1:1 ; we have reality. Anything you still can’t handle is your own problem.
          I wonder, how did Adams manage to parody Trump so well in the persona of Zaphod Beeblebrox? Or is Trump a closet H2G2 fan, and the whole last couple of years have been his personal homage to Zaphod?

    1. It sounds like being banned from that page should be a matter of pride. So well done!

      It’s amazing the things some people will believe.

      After Trump was bundled off the stage yesterday, and it was discovered there was no gun, I was tempted to start a rumour on Twitter that the whole thing was staged to make Trump look like a sympathetic character just to see how far it went. It’s the sort of thing that’s believable because it fits exactly with his character and it’s something he would do.

  3. Since you’re writing from Ireland, your mention of hedgehogs made me think immediately of the exquisite Irish harpist and singer, Mary O’Hara, who, I read somewhere kept a pet hedgehog when she lived in Sligo. Just thinking about her music makes me weep because it’s so keen and plaintive; and then one thinks about her early life and one knows that every note is from the heart.

  4. An old Russian lady I knew fed a ‘gedgegog’, half hidden under a bush, all through a time of snow here in London, only to find it was an old lavatory brush when it thawed. Or so she told me.

    1. An old Russian lady I knew fed a ‘gedgegog’,

      “один еж” or for a baby, a “ежик” – at least that’s how I get described before being forced to the razor blade. I don’t know the Russian for “bog brush” though.

  5. Spanish conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca became the first known European to set foot in what is now Texas,

    I wonder if Bush the Third is practising signing “Donald J. Trump” on the wall-building bills to send to such reprobate illegal immigrants, their heirs and descendants.
    So, will we be seeing the start of the Second American Revolution on Wednesday?

      1. “try”, “Kim Kardasomethingortheother” on the “softer side”?
        Back to “Orchard Towers”, thirteenth floor.

  6. Cows-head (Cabeza de Vaca) entered a deserted country. It seems that European diseases had preceded him. I have this suspicion that the impact of European diseases, flu, common cold, TB, measles and many others on the ‘immunologically naive’ population of the Americas has been seriously underestimated.

    Used to be a firework fundi myself (specialising in ‘mortars’), but it is very polluting and scares dogs and *cats*. Have abandoned it for 2 decades. However, the ghosts and evil spirits, not being chased away now, are haunting me daily 😲.

    1. I don’t think European diseases are being underestimated. It has been credited with killing millions of native Americans, while actual military conquest was only enough to pave the way. Cortez and Pizzaro were able to control native populations with only a handful of soldiers, the true devastation occurred in the decades that followed in the form of infections. No secret there.

    2. Yes I think rickflick has it right. The history books of the ’60s or ’70s might not have represented the impact of disease correctly, but I think that historic mistake has been corrected over the last decade or two. Even Wikipedia points out that the diseases from the early European colonists killed off an estimate 30 million Aztecs (mostly inadvertently). Leaving about 6 million Aztecs for the Conquistators to conquer.

      1. Yes, I stand corrected: the record is being set straight (if not, how would I as a ‘layman’ have known?), but still, the extent of it is not yet very widely known, I think.
        Eg. the catastrophic ‘Black Death’ in late medieval Europe killed about a third of the population, in the Americas the estimates are as high as 95%!

  7. There was a biopic a few years back about Arturo Sandoval’s defection to the US starring Andy Garcia as Sandoval and Charles Dutton as Dizzy Gillespie (with a supporting role by Gloria Estefan). Wasn’t half bad, as I recall. Boss music anyway.

      1. Wow, that’s some ancient “Mambo Kings” stuff right there. I go back to the ’80s and the Oscar Hijuelos novel, but not all the way back to Dizzy and the ’50s Afro-Cuban jazz scene itself (though I love to listen to those recordings).


  8. There was Cabeza de Vaca, “the first known European to set foot in what is now Texas,” but don’t slight Estevanico, a slave, the first known African to do the same thing, along with Cabeza de Vaca.

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