Saturday: Hili dialogue

June 29, 2019 • 7:00 am

It’s Saturday, June 29, 2019. As you read this, I will be at Daniel K. Inouye Airport in Honolulu, heading over to Kona on the Big Island, and then driving to Hilo to begin our circumambulation.

And it’s National Almond Buttercrunch Day (I erred yesterday, which was not NABD but National Tapioca Day. It’s just as well that we missed that.) It’s also Hug Holiday Day, in which you’re supposed to give a hug to someone in need, which is pretty much everyone. But be careful: you know the consequences of unwanted hugging!

Today’s Google Doodle continues with the theme of the Women’s World Cup in soccer. Today the U.S. team beat France, perhaps their most formidable competitor, 2-1. Next Tuesday the U.S. team meets England in the semifinal. Here’s the highlights of the U.S./France game. First click below, then on the “Watch this video on YouTube” line.

Things that happened on June 29 include these:

  • 1534 – Jacques Cartier is the first European to reach Prince Edward Island.
  • 1613 – The Globe Theatre in London burns to the ground
  • 1889 – Hyde Park and several other Illinois townships vote to be annexed by Chicago, forming the largest United States city in area and second largest in population at the time.

Hyde Park, of course, is where Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus) dwells.

  • 1956 – The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 is signed, officially creating the United States Interstate Highway System.
  • 1972 – The United States Supreme Court rules in the case Furman v. Georgia that arbitrary and inconsistent imposition of the death penalty violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
  • 1974 – Isabel Perón is sworn in as the first female President of Argentina.
  • 1974 – Mikhail Baryshnikov defects from the Soviet Union to Canada while on tour with the Kirov Ballet.
  • 1975 – Steve Wozniak tested his first prototype of Apple I computer.

Here’s an early Apple I, labeled by Wikipedia as “a fully assembled Apple I computer with a homemade wooden computer case”. We’ve come a long way!

  • 1987 – Vincent Van Gogh’s painting, the Le Pont de Trinquetaille, was bought for $20.4 million at an auction in London, England.

Here’s that painting, made in 1888 (two years before Van Gogh died):

  • 2007 – Apple Inc. releases its first mobile phone, the iPhone.
  • 2014 – The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant self-declared its caliphate in Syria and northern Iraq.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1858 – George Washington Goethals, American general and engineer, co-designed the Panama Canal (d. 1928)
  • 1861 – William James Mayo, American physician and surgeon, co-founded the Mayo Clinic (d. 1939)
  • 1888 – Squizzy Taylor, Australian gangster (d. 1927)
  • 1919 – Slim Pickens, American actor and rodeo performer (d. 1983)
  • 1929 – Oriana Fallaci, Italian journalist and author (d. 2006)
  • 1936 – Harmon Killebrew, American baseball player and sportscaster (d. 2011)
  • 1941 – Stokely Carmichael, Trinidadian-American activist (d. 1998)
  • 1957 – María Conchita Alonso, Cuban-Venezuelan singer and actress

I have Killebrew’s autograph on an issue of Genetics from 1972. I claim that this is the only genetics journal ever to bear autograph of a baseball Hall of Famer (see story here).

Those who crossed the Rainbow Bridge on June 29 include:

  • 1852 – Henry Clay, American lawyer and politician, 9th United States Secretary of State (b. 1777)
  • 1861 – Elizabeth Barrett Browning, English poet and translator (b. 1806)
  • 1940 – Paul Klee, Swiss painter and illustrator (b. 1879)
  • 1964 – Eric Dolphy, American saxophonist, composer, and bandleader (b. 1928)
  • 1967 – Jayne Mansfield, American actress (b. 1933)
  • 1995 – Lana Turner, American actress (b. 1921)
  • 2002 – Rosemary Clooney, American singer and actress (b. 1928)
  • 2003 – Katharine Hepburn, American actress (b. 1907)

Here’s a nice Paul Klee painting, “Cat and Bird” (1928):

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili reenacts the famous Manet painting:

A: Dejeneur sur l’herbe?
Hili: Yes, in an elegant fur.

In Polish:

Ja: Śniadanie na trawie?
Hili: Tak, w eleganckim futrze.

From Facebook:

Here are the very last items that I ever got from Grania. But we won’t forget her, and I hope to post video of her memorial service soon. The first is a video of ctenophores eating other ctenophores:


And this, her last tweet sent to me, is sadly appropriate:

Reader Barry asks, “is this a grasshopper or a locust?”

From Nilou, a tweet from Nicholas Christakis (whom you’ll remember). The CNN report says this:

The two tiny phalanges, or digital bones of the hand, are about 1 centimeter long and belonged to a Neanderthal child who was between 5 and 7 years old. The researchers have determined that the bones are 115,000 years old.

. . . An analysis revealed that the bones were covered with dozens of holes, creating a very porous surface. That detail was very telling, the researchers said.

“Analyses show that this is the result of passing through the digestive system of a large bird. This is the first such known example from the Ice Age,” said Pawel Valde-Nowak, team researcher and professor at Jagiellonian University’s Institute of Archeology, in a statement.
The researchers believe that the bird either attacked and partially consumed the child, or fed off of the child after it died. At this point, it could be either, they said.
The CNN report doesn’t say what the bird might have been.

Tweets from Heather Hastie. The first one shows tough love:

Heather says that she especially likes this case of interspecies love:

Tweets from Matthew. The first shows an accident in a steel mill. Fortunately, nobody was hurt:

Apart from the birds of paradise, the courtship of the hooded grebe is the most bizarre. LOOK AT THIS!

Why are these all brooding in the same place?

47 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. I think grasshopper/locust is kind of like dove/pigeon or frog/toad. More of a non-scientific description rather than a taxonomic term.
    Anyway I think this one is a lubber grasshopper – Romalea microptera.

    1. Some species of grasshopper can transition to the “locust” lifestyle if their population density reaches a certain threshold, when the normal progression of immature “instars” is disturbed. When the population density drops again, the “locusts” go back to their normal grasshopper behaviour.
      It’s rather like human football thugs – most of the time, they behave like normal humans, but if concentrated to a certain density (e.g. between the railway station and the football ground), they flip into a quasi-stable “thug” state.
      I’m sure that the literature of Monday morning’s courts are full of accounts of this transition.

      1. I recall a study from a few years back that purported to show a strong correlation between the frequency of stimulation of certain touch receptors on the grasshopper’s hind legs and a transition to locust behavior. Heck, may as well look it up.

        Here, Wikipedia has it.

        “Locusts are the swarming phase of certain species of short-horned grasshoppers in the family Acrididae. Swarming behaviour is a response to overcrowding. Increased tactile stimulation of the hind legs causes an increase in levels of serotonin.[38] This causes the grasshopper to change colour, feed more and breed faster. The transformation of a solitary individual into a swarming one is induced by several contacts per minute over a short period.[39]

        [39 Rogers, Stephen M.; Matheson, Thomas; Despland, Emma; Dodgson, Timothy; Burrows, Malcolm; Simpson, Stephen J. (2003). “Mechanosensory-induced behavioral gregarization in the desert locust Schistocerca gregaria” (PDF). Journal of Experimental Biology. 206 (22): 3991–4002. doi:10.1242/jeb.00648. PMID 14555739. Archived (PDF) from the original on 24 September 2016.]

  2. Surely ‘Hug Holiday Day’ should mean taking a break from hugging everybody?

    For those averse to conventional hugging, I offer this:
    (Warning: It combines the awesome aesthetic qualities of Christian music with the even more incredible qualities of rap. The result is exactly what you would expect).


    1. I come from an immediate family averse to hugging (except my mom) and extended family that is half and half. We all hug when we see one another anyway. I just was dating someone for almost 10 months who was averse to hugging and he and his family didn’t hug at all. It didn’t work out. I’d say I am definitely okay with hugs now. Hug to anyone who needs one.

  3. Never been to Hilo, the wet side of the Big Island so please take lots of photos. I know it’s a pretty good drive from Kona with diversions along the way. Tsunami country.

  4. I liked going to the Kona coffee plantation when I was there and picking up some coffee. There is also a horsefosh place not far from Hilo where they breed the fish and they give you a tour and explain all about it. I hope it is still there.

      1. I wonder … did chess “knights” acquire their hippocampus-like profile before or after the marine animals became well known?

  5. It is curious to me that in Le Pont de Trinquetaille, Van Gogh allowed the woman on the stairs to line up exactly with the lamp post behind her and a vertical beam in the bridge. This kind of compositional issue is usually avoided because it can divide the surface awkwardly and interrupt the viewers gaze. Photographs are notorious for this problem as when a lamp seems to be growing out of someone’s head. It’s not clear why he would not have shifted her left to gain a better balance. A very nice painting nevertheless.

    1. Yes, at first I was wondering why a bundle of clothes was hanging from the bridge. I would have said shift her right a bit toward the middle of the stairs.

    2. I am accused of doing this deliberately.

      Truthfully accused, on more than a few occasions.

      1. I have a lovely photo of a steam locomotive with a power pole growing out of the chimney.



        1. I have a photo of a coconut palm growing out of the middle of a set of 20in casing slips. I sent it to the Boss under a heading like “you know when you’ve been here too long” as I told him we were zero progress over the last week and therefore the 3-4 week job was still likely to go over 12-16 weeks.
          (Casing slips can actually be opened on a hinge, and they really had been set around a palm tree, for no readily apparent reason . )

  6. 1919 – Slim Pickens, American actor and rodeo performer (d. 1983)

    Pickens’s most iconic movie scene is the one in Strangelove where, as Maj. Kong, he rides the A-bomb out of a B-52 towards its Rooskie target.

    But my favorite cinematic moment of his is the wordless look a gut-shot Pickens exchanges with the wonderful Mexican actress Katy Jurado, over the strains of Dylan’s “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” in Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, at about the 2:40 mark in this clip:

    1. Heck of a scene, heck of a movie and heck of a cast. A few others of note in the movie . . .
      Kris Kristofferson
      Rita Coolidge
      Bob Dylan (who of course also did the soundtrack)
      James Coburn
      Harry Dean Stanton
      Charles Martin Smith
      Bruce Dern

      Almost every actor in the film is a face that most people born between my and my grandparents generations would recognize.

  7. PCC mentions the airport in Honolulu, now named after Daniel Inouye who deserves a look at in history. He is a WWII hero and member of the famous 442 regiment that fought in Italy. He received the medal of honor and was also a Senator representing Hawaii for many years.

    When I was living on Okinawa at Kinser marine corp post I use to walk on the beach there on the China Sea. There was a old building down by the beach with a large sign on the building stating 442nd. I assumed it was kind of an old club house for the regiment but never had the brains to check into it further.

    1. I remember him from my teenage days, he was one of the strongest people on the Senate Watergate committee, and then the Iran-Contra committee. Those were fascinating things to watch for a kid, revealing glimpses of the underbelly of the US government and yet also showing its strength to fight the darkness.

      1. Yes, I forgot about those times. I was always most ashamed of our treatment of Japanese Americans when I saw Daniel Inouye.

    2. The 442nd Regiment, made up of volunteers from Hawaii and Japanese-Americans from the mainland was one of the most highly decorated in WWII. They were permitted to fight only in Europe, for fear they might have some dual loyalties regarding Japan.

  8. What IS that stuff in the steel mill accident? Is it liquid metal? It doesn’t look like it, so what makes it so dangerous?

    1. Not molten steel – hot steel. From the colour (notoriously tricky with film) I’d estimate a bit over 1000degC.
      Hot steel is much easier to force into different shapes – as every bit of footage of a blacksmith smithing testifies. So when converting ingots of cast Beesemer steel into – for example – steel sheet for pressing into car panels, they pass the billet through sets of rollers that successively squeeze the steel to thinner but longer strips. (Yes, they normally have to have multiple sets of rollers, to control the widening of the billet too.)
      In this footage, one of the strips has either “jumped” the rollers and is spewing out the side of the machine, or it has split within the rollers and this is spewing out of the side while most of the billet continues through the roller system. It’s under-width, so probably also scrap.
      In the later parts of the shot you can see that the lower parts of the pile has dropped to a moderate red temperature (say, 650 to 700 degC) while bright orange steel is piling up on top.
      Yes, they do frequently need to apply additional heat (gas burners or induction coils) at stages in the rolling process, to keep the metal in it’s ductile temperature range.

      1. Thanks, that’s pretty damn comprehensive. 1000 degrees is pretty toasty.

        It seemed to move almost like one of those snakes-in-a-can that you can get, that pop out when you open the top. Very weird.

        1. That’s the speed that the rollers are turning. The faster you move the steel, the less you have to pay for gas (or electricity) at intermediate re-heating stages.

        1. Before the development of cheap IR detecting semiconductor chips, the standard way of determining the temperature of a furnace was by holding a transparent frame with a platinum wire in it, and passing a current through the frame until the colour of the wire matched the furnace. The current would then give you your estimate for the temperature.
          Such “pyrometers” needed calibration, obviously. For some reason, one of the calibration points – the melting/ freezing point of gold – sticks in my mind as 1063 degC. And since I don’t trust my memory for things I haven’t needed for 30 years … pyrometers and temperature set points. Just as well I checked – the freezing point of gold is 1,064.18degC. But that’s a scale which was published well after I was trying to build a blast furnace.

          1. In another example of an extreme reference point, the photosphere of the sun is about 5526 C and it is often called white light, although children always draw it as yellow. But, nobody is dumb enough to look directly at it to determine it’s color.

            1. Depressingly large numbers of nobodies are dumb enough to stare at the Sun for extended periods because it’s something they’ve never thought of before.
              A glancing glance won’t sear your eyes out of your head. I don’t get the thing of extended looking – it’s painful ; maybe the casualty reports often refer to people who are wearing sunglasses which do nothing to block IR light. It – as the saying goes – gives me a headache to think to that level.

              A question for the transpondians – how prevalent is wearing of high-obscuration sunglasses? My (prescription) specs will darken to block 20% of incoming light, and beyond that I squint. But is that a normal behaviour in Transpondiania?

              (Incidentally, the pyrometry scale uses set points relevant to common industrial processes. Hence the top point being the freezing(melting) point of copper, which is normally used as a quite pure metal, whereas the alloy that is “steel” covers up to tens of percent of several alloying metals and is unlikely to have a fixed melting point.)

              1. Having vampire characteristics I even squint when wearing polarized sunglasses. I have to wear eye protection outside always. I think my eyes are always stopped down letting in too much light.

      2. That steel is really motoring!

        As the original billet passes through successive rollers and gets smaller, so it has to move faster. The original link mentions 30mph, but it looks a lot faster to me.

        Even if it wasn’t red hot, it would still have the potential to seriously ruin your day.


      3. I can attest to the heat in a rolling mill. As a young high school graduate in 1956, I went to work for the Erie Railroad in Youngstown, Ohio as a yard brakeman. We were switching cars out in the rolling mill of the Briar Hill Works of the Youngstown Sheet and Tube one rainy night. I was standing near the rolling mill in the rain waiting for the engine to be coupled to some cars. My back was soaking wet with the rain and my front was bone dry from the heat from the mill. It was, to me, always a magic and dangerous place. None of it exists anymore.

        1. A friend once described seeing his colleagues running across the deck of a burning oil rig, a few seconds before he decided to do a 250ft leap from the deck into the water.

  9. The two tiny phalanges, or digital bones of the hand, are about 1 centimeter long

    That’s a rather worryingly large bird. Has anyone with more ornithology nous than me got an idea of how big an eagle (or elephant bird, or Phorusrachid) would need to be to excrete a bone that size.
    Someone, somewhere, must have spent their graduate student years taking cassowary scat apart.

    Or … could the pitting indicate that the bone went into the crop, got agitated with grit and stomach acids to strip the meat, then regurgitated?

      1. I’ve never met such. I suspect their eating habits aren’t very photogenic for the fluffy-cuddly nature film-making brigade.

  10. Why are these all brooding in the same place?

    Hypothesis 1 : as a seamount, there is probably a degree of residual heat coming out of the rocks – maybe as warm water seeps. Even a couple of degrees difference makes a considerable difference to development rates. BUT, I don’t see any “shimmer” from temperature differences.
    Hypothesis 2 : as a seamount, it’s a mountain sticking up from the general level of the sea bed. That’s going to promote the upwelling of deep water into shallower water, which is likely to have a different (higher? ) oxygen content. Another important parameter for egg development.

    Obviously, the conditions supporting either hypothesis will vary from place to place, and these octopodes have found the place they think is best for their purposes.

  11. That is not a locust. A locust is a type of migratory grasshopper, its appearance and behavior are so different in the migratory and solitary phases that it was thought to be two different species. Also, a cicada is not a locust. That’s why we have scientific names for organisms.

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