Monday: Hili dialogue

July 23, 2018 • 6:30 am

Well, here we are at Monday again: July 23, 2018, and it’s National Vanilla Ice Cream Day. I have a half gallon of Breyer’s Vanilla in my freezer (actually the container is not as large since ice cream companies sneakily colluded to reduce the size of their cartons). But that treat is destined to lie atop a piece of Costco Apple Pie—one of the great triumphs of mass merchandising. It’s also a Rastafarian holiday: the birthday of Haile Selassie (1892).

On this day in 1829, the American William Austin Burt patented the typographer, one precursor of the typewriter. Here’s what it looked like—you moved a lever that made an inked letter contact the paper. At first it was far more cumbersome and slower than simply writing:

On July 23, 1840, the Act of Union of united Upper and Lower Canada to create the Province of Canada. On this day in 1914, according to Wikipedia, “Austria-Hungary issues a series of demands in an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia demanding Serbia to allow the Austrians to determine who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Serbia accepts all but one of those demands and Austria declares war on July 28.” That was the beginning of the First World War. On July 23, 1942, the Nazis opened the Treblinka extermination camp, which ultimately killed more Jews (700,000-900,000) than any camp other than Auschwitz. Exactly a year later, the Rayleigh bath chair murder occurred in Rayleigh, England. This is a bizarre one; read about it at the link. Finally, on July 23, 1972, the U.S. launched Landsat 1, the first satellite designed to orbit the Earth to collect data on our planet, including information about agricultural and forestry resources, geology, pollution, and weather.

Notables born on this day include Haile Selassie (1892; see above), Arthur Treacher (1894; actor and later purveyor of execrable fish and chips), Pee Wee Reese (1918), Don Drysdale (1936), Justice Anthony Kennedy (1936), Theo Van Gogh (1957, stabbed to death 2004), Woody Harrelson (1961) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967). Don Drysdale still holds a major league baseball record (two, actually); can you name them? Pee Wee Reese, besides being a superb shortstop, is to be lauded for defending the hiring of Jackie Robinson, the first black to enter Major League Baseball. When the other Brooklyn Dodger players threatened to quit when Robinson was hired, Reese, a popular player, refused to go along, defusing the revolt.

Those who died on July 23 include Domenico Scarlatti (1757), Ulysses S. Grant (1885), D. W. Griffith (1948), Donald Barthelme (1989), Eudora Welty (2001), Daniel Schorr (2010), Amy Winehouse (2011), and Sally Ride (2012). Here’s Amy singing one of my favorite songs at the Isle of Wight, four years before she died:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is being domineering:

Hili: A horrible mess on this table.
A: That’s inevitable when you’re baking a cheesecake.
Hili: And who needs it?
In Polish:
Hili: Straszny bałagan na tym stole.
Ja: Tak to jest przy robieniu sernika.
Hili: I komu to potrzebne?
First, a truefact cartoon from reader Su:

A tweet from reader Gethyn; be sure to watch the video:

From Heather Hastie. Here’s an Überkatze:

. . . and a loving lion.

Tweets from Matthew. Here’s a predatory fly that mimics a bumblebee:

Another spectacular fly. Look at those patterns!

Matthew’s apparently following the Tour de France, and here’s some nice country that the cyclists traverse. Clicking on the tweet below will take you to the original with the video:

The discovery of a 45 million year old skull weathering out of the ground:

A goat following its drill sergeant’s orders. “I can’t hear you, goat!”:

From Grania; this is my favorite tweet of the month:

How Gary Larson contributed to paleontological jargon:

More on the excavation in Ireland:

A jailbreaking kitty:

I supposed this was a drive-in waitress delivering food to a car, but it’s not. I don’t know what it is; but it’s truly impressive:



24 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. I believe one of Don Drysdale’s records is for most consecutive shutout innings.

    Pee-Wee Reese was a southerner, from Kentucky I believe, so his acceptance of Jackie carried extra weight. During Jackie’s first year with the Dodgers, before an away game, he was being booed by the locals during infield warm-up practice. Pee-Wee walked over to Jackie at second base and put an arm around his shoulder, in front of god, the opposing team, and all their fans. It spoke volumes, both to the acceptance of the major league’s first black ballplayer and to Pee-Wee Reese’s character.

    1. I remember watching Pee-Wee and Dizzy Dean doing the game of the week via the magic of black and white television in the 50s.

  2. Looking at the picture of the Typographer, circa 1829, I can not but wonder at the exponential rate of change in technological capabilities that we humans have made in the past few centuries. One looks at these old devices and thinks “how crude and clumsy are the capabilities of the people that built these things”. Look at what devices we have to carry out these functions today. I’m an engineer… worked at intel at the time of the creation of the first microprocessor – the 4004. It was 1971. And this revolutionary device of its time, is in fact the crudest sort of “Typographer” in comparison to the multi processor chip architectures that we have today. And the technology created to fabricate the devices of today is equally as extraordinarily more sophisticated that the crude techniques of 1971. I visited the Science Museum in London…. there on display were some of the systems that I myself had worked on – IN A BLOODY MUSEUM. I hope that you non-techies, as you walk down the street connected across the world via a handheld mainframe computer architecture to make your “selfies” have some minimal appreciation of the astonishing technological pace that you are taking for granted.

    1. Yes, and my cellphone has more processing power than the Space Shuttle. 😉

      I read, probably a couple of decades back, that they were having trouble locating spares for the Shuttle’s computers which were totally obsolete and had (by then-current standards) pathetically slow processing power and tiny memory capacity. The reason they didn’t switch to something much more modern and compact was that the original programs for the Shuttle had been so exhaustively tested, and rewriting them for modern hardware would be a massive undertaking. Maybe they have done by now.

      This sort of thing happens all the time…


      1. I seem to remember that in the later years of the shuttle that portable computers, laptops, were commonly used on the shuttle. For what specifically I don’t recall, but not just for personal use.

        1. Of course, it’s on the Intertoobz and Google will find it 🙂

          “Even after a major computer upgrade in 1991, the primary flight system has a storage capacity of one megabyte and runs at a speed of 1.4 million instructions per second. While this was more memory and much faster computing speed than could be achieved with the original 1970s-era Shuttle flight computers, it doesn’t compare to today’s desktop computers.”

          One megabyte? You can’t buy a SD camera card with a memory as small as 1MB anywhere. An MP3 file of John Denver singing ‘Country Roads’ is 3MB.

          But they are fantastically reliable, which is the point.

          goes into some detail about how they program and test them.

          I’m sure they use many other devices for less mission-critical applications.


  3. “Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967)”

    This is, sadly, incomplete: “Philip Seymour Hoffman (July 23, 1967 – February 2, 2014)”

  4. “From the Millau Viaduct to the Cité de Carcassonne, enjoy the best landscapes of the day.” (Not that a bunch of sweaty cyclists have time to enjoy anything.)

    There is some fine scenery in that area, both the high plateaux cut by deep valleys, and the tidal lagoons along the coast.

    The Millau Viaduct is awesome (to use a horribly trivialised word in its proper sense) when seen from the valley below. The highest tower is 23m higher than the Eiffel tower.

    80 miles north up the scenic A75 autoroute is Garabit, with Eiffel’s impressive 1885 Garabit Viaduct across the gorge of the Truyère. The lattice towers have free-standing ‘spiral’ (helical) stairways up the middle of them which make fascinating patterns against the sky when seen from below and must be scary as hell to climb. Interestingly, Eiffel’s company still exists and built the steel deck of the Millau viaduct.

    (As an aside, and very oddly, when I first drove my rental car out of Montpellier station 70 miles to the south with the GPS set to ‘Millau’, the very first road sign I saw 50 yards out of the car park exit just said “Millau”. So I followed signs for “Millau” all the way out of Montpellier ignoring the pathetic bleats from the GPS that kept telling me to turn in another direction.)


  5. The Gary Larson thing reminds me of the Not the Nine O’Clock News sketch in which Rowan Atkinson (as Gerald the gorilla) states the collective noun for gorillas is a ‘whoop’ and for baboons is a ‘flange’. Those terms have since appeared in real primatology papers.

  6. Listening to Amy’s music today in honour of a great artist, gone too soon and dearly missed.

  7. The Far Side is my favorite comic. I’ve been reading Larson’s work since I was about ten years old and it works whether you’re young or old.

  8. I think if the woman who’s carrying the two trays of food and drink under the car and up the far side without spilling anything is doing a 21st century version of the Linbo dance. I’ve never seen anything like that!

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