Sunday: Hili dialogue

June 23, 2019 • 10:00 am

Good morning from Hawaii on June 23: the first Sunday of summer. (It’s 4:30 am as I write this.) Enjoy today, as it’s Ceiling Cat’s day, which means a day of napping, eating, and playing. And we’re back at National Pecan Sandy Day, honoring a dry and unexceptional cookie. It’s also St. John’s Eve, which starts at sunset tonight.

Today would have been Grania’s 50th birthday; I got a message to that effect on Facebook, except that it said that I should “wish her the best”:

Social media hasn’t caught up with her death, and it was sad to see that. I wonder what happens to people’s social media after they die. Does it remain forever unless someone has it taken down?

She will be cremated tomorrow, her ashes returned to South Africa with her sisters, and there will be a memorial service—non-religious, of course—later this week. They are going to read some of the comments by readers on her memorial thread (here), so if you wish anything to be considered for reading, and haven’t yet posted a comment, please do so.

For those who wanted to know what killed her at such a young age, it is still a mystery, as the autopsy revealed no obvious causes. They are waiting on a “toxicology screen,” which will take some time, and I’m not sure what that will turn up as she didn’t take drugs and drank only in moderation. I miss her like crazy

Here’s what happened on this day in history:

  • 1611 – The mutinous crew of Henry Hudson’s fourth voyage sets Henry, his son and seven loyal crew members adrift in an open boat in what is now Hudson Bay; they are never heard from again.
  • 1868 – Typewriter: Christopher Latham Sholes received a patent for an invention he called the “Type-Writer.”
  • 1917 – In a game against the Washington Senators, Boston Red Sox pitcher Ernie Shore retires 26 batters in a row after replacing Babe Ruth, who had been ejected for punching the umpire.
  • 1926 – The College Board administers the first SAT exam. [JAC: we may see the last one within a decade or two.]
  • 1951 – The ocean liner, SS United States, is christened and launched. [JAC: In 1957 I returned with my family from Greece, where my father was stationed, on this ship.]
  • 1961 – Cold War: The Antarctic Treaty, which sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve and bans military activity on the continent, comes into force 18 months after the opening date for signature was set for December 1, 1959.
  • 1972 – Watergate scandal: U.S. President Richard M. Nixon and White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman are taped talking about using the Central Intelligence Agency to obstruct the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into the Watergate break-ins.
  • 2013 – Nik Wallenda becomes the first man to successfully walk across the Grand Canyon on a tight rope.

Here are some highlights of Wallenda’s walk; he was on the rope for nearly 23 minutes!

Finally, it was on this day two years ago in 2016 that the UK voted in the “Brexit” referendum to leave the European Union. The vote was 52% “leave” to 48% “stay”.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1894 – Alfred Kinsey, American entomologist and sexologist (d. 1956)
  • 1894 – Edward VIII, King of the United Kingdom (d. 1972)
  • 1912 – Alan Turing, English mathematician and computer scientist (d. 1954)
  • 1927 – Bob Fosse, American actor, dancer, choreographer, and director (d. 1987)
  • 1929 – June Carter Cash, American singer-songwriter, musician, and actress (d. 2003)
  • 1943 – James Levine, American pianist and conductor
  • 1948 – Clarence Thomas, American lawyer and judge, currently serving as a Supreme Court Justice
  • 1957 – Frances McDormand, American actress, winner of the Triple Crown of Acting
  • 1969 – Grania Spingies, friend and contributor to this website
  • 1975 – KT Tunstall, Scottish singer-songwriter and musician

Not many notables died on June 23; those who “fell asleep” include:

  • AD 79 – Vespasian, Roman emperor (b. AD 9)
  • 1995 – Jonas Salk, American biologist and physician (b. 1914)
  • 2009 – Ed McMahon, American game show host and announcer (b. 1923)
  • 2011 – Peter Falk, American actor (b. 1927)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili stayed out all night, and Andrzej found her sleeping on the wicker shelf on the veranda.

Hili: Why are you taking pictures standing on a ladder?
A: I’m taking the opportunity while changing the bulb.
In Polish:
Hili: Czemu robisz zdjęcie z drabiny?
Ja: Przy okazji wymiany żarówki.

From Facebook, with the caption: “This is why my internet’s so darn slow. Everybody’s online.”

A tweet from reader Barry. I’m not sure why this snail is supposed to be Trump advisor Stephen Miller; you tell me. (Is it the slime?)

Three tweets from Heather Hastie. I may have posted this one before, but this time I have a title: “WHO’S a bad boy?”

This kakapo has good taste in fashion, biting what is perhaps the ugliest shoe ever made:

One tail entertains three kittens:

Three of the Lost Tweets from Grania (I have about a week’s worth remaining). Here’s an eye-licking gecko:

A biology lesson in horseshoe crab locomotion:

How big do these get? Up to 3 meters (10 feet) in diameter.

And three tweets from Dr. Cobb. I agree with Matthew on this one, as must all rational people. If you’re not immunocompromised, or have some medical condition that precludes you from getting vaccinated, it’s immoral—and should be illegal—to not get vaccinated. And no religious exemptions!

Matthew says this looks like a Batesian mimic of a sweat bee. And it may well bee one given its appearance and behavior:

For comparison, here’s a sweat bee from WebMD (you might look at the link):

What a graceful kitty!



62 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. All of us are only here for a brief time but Grania’s life was cut short. It makes us think that she was cheated and that makes dying that much sadder.

    The plane crash in Oahu the other day probably left many with the same sadness.

  2. In the news item I read about the medical student who died from measles he was actually vaccinated… it would appear that the vaccine was ineffective and he went through life believing he was immune.

    I come from an age when we were sent to visit kids with measles, thankfully times have changed and you can become immune painlessly. so do so 😀

    1. Fans of Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy and the Waldorf School movement still do this — have measles & chicken pox parties. Whenever you hear of a measles outbreak, just look for a Waldorf School in the area. (I used to be a teacher in that system for a short period.)

  3. Those look like swallows on the power lines. A friend reported that they see hundreds of starling roosting on lines near them. When they take off, nearly simultaneously, the lines bounce wildly. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a local blackout.

    1. When they take off, nearly simultaneously, the lines bounce wildly. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a local blackout.

      I’d be pretty surprised if transmission line engineers hadn’t worked this out already. Cables are pretty well understood – Hooke and catenary curves getting into a urinating on the shoulders of giants contest with Newton and the brachistochrone problem. When the loading (snow, water current [variable at different depths], starlings per metre) on a cable/ chain/ wire changes, the arc it describes also changes, but in a fairly predictable way. Ensuring that catenaries don’t cross under predictable loads is a competence matter.

      I wonder how those “zip line” games deal with the problem of killing velocity at the down hill end of the slide – without, of course, killing the passenger? At work we just set the height of the cable end so that the escape cart just scrapes the ground, before the derrickmen test it several times with a sack of sand. That doesn’t scale to hundreds of paying customers a day though.

      1. Ziplines are big in places like Thailand where regulation is zero if you know who to pay. Zipline tours through the rainforest going from line to line – anywhere that has tall, straight trees for infrastructure I suppose. Done on the cheap.

        They’re mostly owned/run by ‘adventure holiday’ westerners for westerners with lots of local cheap labour to check harnesses, safety wires etc & they do have injuries & fatalities. The line safety regime essentially consists of sensible spacing & relying on the sag at the low end to brake the human, who is then carried uphill the last 10 metres by momentum. Some employee grabs the person & drags them & their mechanism onto a platform. But if there’s a miss the person rolls back to the bottom of the centenary & can expect an impact in the back from the next one in line [there’s a few on the same stretch of line at the same time, going up to motorway vehicle speeds.

        It’s insane – I don’t know how it works in USA, UK etc.

          1. This happened to me on my only zipline adventure–in Costa Rica a few years back. I came in too fast and bounced back onto the main line, winding up hanging 100 feet from the platform, 200 feet above the forest floor. I went hand over hand on the wire till I got back to safety. Never again!

        1. They’re a useful OUTBE mechanism, when the chance of dieing at the bottom end is weighed against the certainty of dieing when the flames reach you, when the mast collapses, whatever. I suppose they’re fun too, if you’re blissfully ignorant of the many potentials for something to go horribly wrong.

          1. Boeing’s CST-100 7-seat Starliner has a zipline escape system if there are pre-launch troubles. It’s competitor, the SpaceX Dragon throws the crew capsule up & out to the side by small rockets & parachute in similar circs.

            There’s a rather cute kevlar chute system that drops a tube to the ground from a flat roof in emergencies over the side of a building – there’s a few companies that manufacture those – must bring insurance down quite a bit.

            1. Have you ever used one of those kevlar chute things? They’re better than dieing, but how good they are in an actual evacuation I’d be more doubtful of. even on a 15m drop, you see something like 1 in 10 people getting hung up and struggling to extricate themselves. When there are dozens of panicking people piling into the device to get away, it’s not going to be pretty.
              But that’s fit, sober people in a training centre, having seen the things before. Real life will go swimmingly.

  4. The Botanischer Garten in Berlin used to have a pond full of Victoria Amazonica lilies in their hot house. Great place to go in winter to warm up.

    I’d never have guessed that horseshoe crabs move like that!

    1. I’ve seen these giants in The Waterlily House in London’s Kew Gardens. On the website there is a photograph of a child safely sitting on one.

      1. At Adelaide Botanic Garden we’ve had a waterlily house with V. amazonica since about the 1870s. The glasshouse is on its third iteration, but the pond wall is original. There is an extent photograph of a child standing on a lily pad, although there is also a nasty rumour that scaffolding had been installed underneath.

    1. I seem to remember reading that he distributed the keys randomly so as to slow down the typists. Otherwise the keys would jam. In so doing he slowed the progress of civilization. Just a bit.

      1. Yeah, the QWERTY keyboard was created to slow down the typist as to not jam the keys. I remember that Ben Goren learned how to type on the Dvorak (iirc) keyboard (created to be more efficient than QWERTY). But he said it was a pain switching from one to the other and he didn’t think he typed that much faster on the Dvorak anyway.

        1. I just had to check this out:

          “The highest typing speed ever recorded was 216 words per minute (wpm), set by Stella Pajunas in 1946, using an IBM electric typewriter. Currently, the fastest English language typist is Barbara Blackburn, who reached a peak typing speed of 212 wpm during a test in 2005, using a Dvorak simplified keyboard.”

          Looks like QWERTY wins by a nose.

          1. WPM & not characters though? I bet Stella’s script didn’t contain advanced words such as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious & the poor Germans would never break 10 wpm.

            1. Now I just have to check that out too:

              “Since the length or duration of words is clearly variable, for the purpose of measurement of text entry, the definition of each “word” is often standardized to be five characters or keystrokes long in English, including spaces and punctuation. For example, under such a method applied to plain English text the phrase “I run” counts as one word, but “rhinoceros” and “let’s talk” would both count as two.”

              1. There was no numerals “0” or “1” on early typewriters & another source says this was so until the 1970s! Not many people know that I bet.

          2. Electrics were enormously faster than manual typewriters, and computer keyboards (which allow easy error correction so remove the necessity for caution) are effectively faster still for a semi-skilled typist.

            I learned (self-taught) to type – with one finger – on an old Olivetti manual office typewriter. I got quite fast at it, and of course one-finger I never had a key jam. Then came the IBM XT and my typing speed (one-finger still) doubled or tripled – and I promptly got RSI in my typing finger. My lawsuit against IBM is still pending…



              1. After RSI set in I started using several fingers – I now typically use three or four (spread across both hands). But I have to admit the biggest advance in my typing was the fact that on a computer corrections (for mishit keys) are quick and easy.


          1. Me too, he was a prolific commenter.
            Pease pop in sometime Mr Goren.

            Do you think he’d want us to call 911?

      2. Yes indeed, but reading the Wiki it seems his colleague Densmore might have had more to do with it, but I’m unsure. Densmore consulted his brother, a teacher, about letter frequencies in American English.

        Wiki has this to say about the QWERTY arrangement:

        Contrary to popular belief, the QWERTY layout was not designed to slow the typist down, but rather to speed up typing by preventing jams. Indeed, there is evidence that, aside from the issue of jamming, placing often-used keys farther apart increases typing speed, because it encourages alternation between the hands.

        There is another origin story in the Smithsonian that the QWERTY keyboard was made for telegraph operators and has this layout to make it easy for the telegraph operator to work.

        1. Interesting. Thanks for the added information Michael and Rick.

          Over 200 words a minute is insane. That’s probably faster than I read!

  5. I’m not sure why this snail is supposed to be Trump adviser Stephen Miller; you tell me. (Is it the slime?)
    Sucking up to the orange one!

        1. Bonce: In regional Britspeak a large marble [as in the glass marbles used in playground games] can be called a bonce & it also means a persons head, because both are hard & round I suppose.

  6. Grania was someone special. Last Saturday, I came on thinking of Grania and her upcoming birthday. It was on Saturday last year and I came on to check in. Billy Joel was playing in Ireland last year on her birthday. I was looking forward to wishing her a happy birthday with the thought that I might meet someone who felt like a long-lost sister someday. I’ll remember Grania from the brief time I knew her on here.

    Grania had good taste in music. Here are some songs that remind me of Grania and a few others. 2, 3, and 4 are artists I saw Grania post and went out of my way to listen to them. 3 and 4 are the exact songs. 1 and 8 are from the movie P.S. I Love You. The movie is about grieving. 5 is for Grania’s interest in the a capella group Pentatonix and for having the courage to have a voice against the grain. I also love Pentatonix.

    1. Fairytale of New York – The Pogues
    2. When You’re Gone – The Cranberries
    3. Where Is The Love? – The Black Eyed Peas
    4. Like A Prayer – Madonna
    5. The Sound of Silence – Pentatonix
    6. We Didn’t Start The Fire – Billy Joel
    7. Warm Love – Van Morrison
    8. If I Ever Leave This World Alive – Flogging Molly

    With a heavy heart, Happy Birthday, Grania <3

    1. Thanks for this nice remembrance. Grania did have good musical taste. “Fairytale of New York” is one of my wife’s favorite songs; I love it too. The only song/group I’m not familiar with here is #8. I’ll have to check it out…haven’t seen the movie.

      1. The movie is decent/okay. It is secular/non-religious for the most part except for possibly that part with that song. The song list was not meant to have any religious undertones. Those are just the songs I had in mind thinking of Grania.

  7. The Referendum about the UK remaining or leaving the UK was 3 years ago.

    It sometimes seems even longer.

    1. I still can’t fathom why a non- binding referendum would have such binding properties.
      Moreover, I have difficulty to see how a 52% would be sufficient for such a monumental decision. Especially in view of all the lies told before the referendum.

      1. I still can’t fathom why a non- binding referendum would have such binding properties.

        Because legally binding is not the same as politically binding. The referendum became the latter when the leaders of the main political parties said they would honour the result. I wish this was one occasion on which the political leaders lived up to the stereotype and broke their promise.

  8. 1611 – The mutinous crew of Henry Hudson’s fourth voyage sets Henry, his son and seven loyal crew members adrift in an open boat in what is now Hudson Bay; they are never heard from again.

    Helluva way to get something named after you.

  9. FaceBook allows you to request that a deceased person’s page be “memorialized.” I have seen a few of these. Whatever the deceased had posted before is still there for their friends to see, and friends and family can go to the page to communicate and share memories. (Alternatively, family members can request to have a deceased person’s page taken down.)

  10. A friend of mine died several years ago from cancer. His Facebook page is still there. People visit it and post things on his birthday and on the anniversary of his death. He is not forgotten.

  11. “I wonder what happens to people’s social media after they die. Does it remain forever unless someone has it taken down?”

    I doubt there is any mechanism at Facebook for checking whether the owners of accounts are still alive. And if the owner of an account is the only one with the login password, who’s going to close it?

    (When I die, my ‘digital footprint’ will linger on, gradually fading as hosting and subscription renewals go unpaid… )


    1. I stand corrected, I just saw Robie’s comment at #12.

      Of course this does depend on someone close to the deceased knowing about their FB page.

      Sometimes, people the other side of the world who have become on-line acquaintances just stop responding and one never knows what’s happened to them – whether they’ve moved or died or just changed email providers. A bit sad, really.


  12. With Grania, anything overt like heart, appendix or gall bladder should have turned up on the autopsy. Exp ref what’s going on in the Dominican Rep, I hope they’ve saved enough sample to be able to run more extensive toxicology if the first tests don’t find anything.

    (I learned last night that if it was sepsis, that can’t be determined post-mortem, or at least culturing blood samples isn’t done post-mortem.)

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