Friday: Hili dialogue

July 26, 2019 • 6:30 am

It’s Friday, July 26, 2019, and August will soon be upon us. Let’s hope that the worst of summer’s heat is over.

Today is National Bagelfest, but if you want to eat one be sure to get an authentic bagel, smaller and chewy. These are not easily available compared to the giant, torus-shaped Wonderbreads sold everywhere as “bagels”. It’s also Esperanto Day, celebrating a “worldwide” language that never caught on. I even tried to learn it for a short while when I was young, but gave up when I realized that I would never be able to use it, and that virtually nothing was written in it. Did anyone else ever try to learn this language?

Esperanto even has a flag:

Things that happened on this day in history include:

  • 1745 – The first recorded women’s cricket match takes place near Guildford, England.
  • 1775 – The office that would later become the United States Post Office Department is established by the Second Continental Congress. Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania takes office as Postmaster General.
  • 1861 – American Civil War: George B. McClellan assumes command of the Army of the Potomac following a disastrous Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run.
  • 1891 – France annexes Tahiti.
  • 1918 – Emmy Noether’s paper, which became known as Noether’s theorem, was presented at Göttingen, Germany, from which conservation laws are deduced for symmetries of angular momentum, linear momentum, and energy.

Noether’s brilliant paper was perhaps her most famous work, though she made huge contributions in mathematics. As a Jew, she was forced to flee from Nazi Germany, took a job at Bryn Mawr, and died at only 53 of complications from uterine surgery.  As Wikipedia notes, “She was described by Pavel Alexandrov, Albert Einstein, Jean Dieudonné, Hermann Weyl and Norbert Wiener as the most important woman in the history of mathematics.” Here’s a photo:


  • 1945 – The Labour Party wins the United Kingdom general election of July 5 by a landslide, removing Winston Churchill from power.
  • 1952 – King Farouk of Egypt abdicates in favor of his son Fuad.
  • 1953 – Cold War: Fidel Castro leads an unsuccessful attack on the Moncada Barracks, thus beginning the Cuban Revolution. The movement took the name of the date: 26th of July Movement
  • 1977 – The National Assembly of Quebec imposes the use of French as the official language of the provincial government.

Oy, how close she came!

  • 2016 – Hillary Clinton becomes the first female nominee for President of the United States by a major political party at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1856 – George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright and critic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1950)
  • 1875 – Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist (d. 1961)
  • 1894 – Aldous Huxley, English novelist and philosopher (d. 1963)
  • 1919 – James Lovelock, English biologist and chemist [100 today, still with us]
  • 1928 – Elliott Erwitt, French-American photographer and director
  • 1943 – Mick Jagger, English singer-songwriter, producer, and actor
  • 1945 – Helen Mirren, English actress
  • 1956 – Dorothy Hamill, American figure skater
  • 1959 – Kevin Spacey, American actor and director [60 today]
  • 1973 – Kate Beckinsale, English actress
  • 1980 – Jacinda Ardern, 40th Prime Minister of New Zealand

Here’s one of many great photos by Erwitt, largely a street photographer. I don’t know whether this one, taken in 1989, was staged (the guy could have been leaping a puddle), but it’s lovely:

Those who died on July 26 include:

  • 1863 – Sam Houston, American general and politician, 7th Governor of Texas (b. 1793)
  • 1926 – Robert Todd Lincoln, American lawyer and politician, 35th United States Secretary of War, son of Abraham Lincoln (b. 1843)
  • 1934 – Winsor McCay, American cartoonist, animator, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1871)
  • 1952 – Eva Perón, Argentinian politician, 25th First Lady of Argentina (b. 1919)
  • 1971 – Diane Arbus, American photographer and academic (b. 1923)
  • 2009 – Merce Cunningham, American dancer and choreographer (b. 1919)

I love Winsor McCay, especially his Little Nemo cartoons and Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, both of which presented surrealistic drawings of strange happenings from weird perspectives. It was a comic strip sui generis. Here’s a Little Nemo strip from 1908:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is practicing body positivity: beauty at every size!

Hili: Everybody is looking for a wonder diet.
A: Yes, they want very much to appear younger.
In Polish:
Hili: Wszyscy szukają diety cud.
Ja: Tak, bardzo chcą być młodsi.

Two memes sent by reader Mark Sturtevant. For the first one, Mark says he knew that David Attenborough had a sense of humor. I wonder if this is his real account?!

And Mark identifies this as “a katydid, actually. Probably Pterophylla camellifolia getting into the Plutonium again.”

And from reader Karl:

A tweet sent by Grania on November 29 of last year:

From reader j.j., who notes, “Trump gave a speech before some supporters but the Presidential Seal projected in the background had been altered to feature a Russian eagle holding a bunch of golf clubs.  Nobody noticed! I wonder why, perhaps because it’s all-too-true. When I looked for the best image, I found this by your pal Joyce Carol Oates”:

The New York Times now has a story how this seal was taken from an anti-Trump website by a member of Turning Point USA, a conservative organization, and used mistakenly. The miscreant has been fired:

The traditional presidential seal contains the image of an eagle, which holds arrows representing war in one talon and olive branches representing peace in the other. A banner above its head bears the motto “E Pluribus Unum,” Latin for “Out of Many, One.”

The eagle in the altered image had two heads, a symbol featured on the national emblem of Russiathe flags of several other countriesand the logos for two Trump golf resorts in Scotland. The symbol is often associated with power and empire.

In that seal, the eagle clutches golf clubs and what appears to be a wad of money in its talons. The banner above its head reads “45 Es un Títere,” Spanish for “45 Is a Puppet.” And a shield across the eagle’s chest features five instances of the hammer and sickle, a Communist symbol associated with the Russian Revolution.

The event was an unlikely setting for criticism, and it is unclear if the president was aware of the fake seal. He spoke for nearly 80 minutes in front of a supportive audience. The real presidential seal appeared on the lectern and on another part of the screen.

From reader Barry: Van Gogh the Chipmunk gets his noms (be sure to watch the video; it’s amazing how many peanuts he can stick in his gob!)

Three tweets from Heather Hastie. The first is stunning: a wave touches a cloud!

. . . two tweets featuring Buzz Aldrin. You probably know about his punch in the first one (which I do NOT approve of!), but did you know he was a sartorial icon as well?

Tweets from Matthew. Could Juruš’s body be buried in this one?

Chimps fish for their vegetables:

I’m sure you can figure out the French here:



54 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. “She was described by Pavel Alexandrov, Albert Einstein, Jean Dieudonné, Hermann Weyl and Norbert Wiener as the most important woman in the history of mathematics.”

    And indeed the most important woman in theoretical physics. And the single greatest result in theoretical physics.

    (Though I guess mathematics and theoretical physics are pretty much the same thing, though I’d get into trouble with some philosophers for saying that.)

    1. No they are not the same thing at all. Theoretical physicists use mathematics as a tool, but no matter how elegant the theorems they produce are, unless you verify them against reality, you can’t be sure they are not wrong.

      1. True, but mathematics is also adopted as a model of reality. Where else do the axioms come from, other than that they are real-world true in the sense of being real-world useful?

        (Someone is going to mention the Axiom of Choice at this point, but even that one is clearly real-world true for finite sets.)

        1. But we weren’t talking about where the axioms used by mathematicians come from. Once a mathematician has decided on her axioms she can do whatever she likes deducing interesting results from them and from her intermediate results. She can even choose axioms against perceived reality “what if parallel lines do meet?”

          A physicist chooses a mathematical model and deduces results e.g. the gravitational force between two masses = -GMm/r^2. From their he can mathematically deduce that planets follow elliptical orbits. But his result needs to be checked that it conforms to reality before people will accept it. It doesn’t matter how elegant your mathematical theorem is, if it disagrees with reality, it is wrong. (to paraphrase Richard Feynman)

          1. “It doesn’t matter how elegant your mathematical theorem is, if it disagrees with reality, it is wrong”

            It will be true in the given axiomatic system, so in that context it cannot be wrong. Just because it is not useful in a given “real world” application, it does not follow there isn’t another “real world” application that it is useful for. The inherent difference between math and science.

            1. But we are talking about the context of modelling the real world. In maths, provided your theorems derive logically from your axioms they are correct and that’s enough. In physics, it’s not enough.

              Theoretical physics depends heavily on mathematics as a tool and a language to describe models, but it is not the same thing as mathematics.

          2. “Once a mathematician has decided on her axioms she can do whatever she likes deducing interesting results from them and from her intermediate results.”

            Physicists can do similar things from the laws of physics.

            “She can even choose axioms against perceived reality “what if parallel lines do meet?””

            Just as physicists can conisder alternative laws of physics and their consequences.

            “But his result needs to be checked that it conforms to reality before people will accept it.”

            If a result stems from accepted laws of physics, then it will be accepted. Thus, for example, if one calculated back to predict an eclipse 100,000 years ago, that would be accepted as real even if there is no way of checking it.

            1. for example, if one calculated back to predict an eclipse 100,000 years ago, that would be accepted as real even if there is no way of checking it.

              Ten thousand years ago, you’re probably OK. 100,000 years and the chaotic complexity of interactions is probably going to render your prediction null and void.

    2. Noether’s Theorem plus the law of Energy Conservation tells us that time is symmetrical, ie there is no special point in time. This means that there was no beginning of time, and so the Universe had no beginning. A truly wonderful theorem! It also explains charge conservation and several other more obscure conservation laws.

      1. Alan Clark:

        “Noether’s Theorem plus the law of Energy Conservation tells us that time is symmetrical […] there was no beginning of time […] Universe had no beginning.”

        Sorry, but that is obvious nonsense. For a start the idea commonly expressed as ‘energy cannot be created nor destroyed’, is NOT a law of nature but a consequence of a symmetry – don’t write “law”!

        Your claim may apply in a simplified closed system CLASSICAL cosmological toy universes employed for visualisation & calculation purposes by cosmologists, but in the universe we live in [an expanding one] Noether’s theorem does not apply & there’s no way to define the total energy of the universe we are in.

        Please note that if it was that simple, then it would be a widely accepted foundational principle in current cosmology & it isn’t. I can’t recall a single time [oops] where I’ve read of such a thing, nor do I recall a single cosmologist or theoretical physicist who has made your claim. In fact I know Hawking spent a lot of time [ha!] considering the shape of the boundary of the first moment in time. [too many times, but I’m leaving as is].

        But, memory is a funny thing so please point me to any statement by Hawking or Guth or Krauss or Linde or any other cosmologist [certified ones only so to speak] saying that time is eternal into the past & eternal into the future because of Noether’s Theorem & the “law” of energy conservation.

        Finally I took the trouble of looking up what Sean Carroll has to say & the first statement from him that I fell over was this:

        “It’s clear that cosmologists have not done a very good job of spreading the word about something that’s been well-understood since at least the 1920’s: energy is not conserved in general relativity”


        1. “…the idea commonly expressed as ‘energy cannot be created nor destroyed’, is NOT a law of nature but a consequence of a symmetry.”

          Why shouldn’t a law of nature have a cause? EVERY law of nature has a cause! Do you really think that Boyle’s law is arbitrary and exists without a reason?

          Relativity may or may not invalidate my particular argument, but Cosmologists certainly do consider the possibility that there was no beginning of time, and if so then there must be a reason. What does a first point in time even mean?

          1. OK. I asked for something solid & you can’t deliver a reference from just one cosmologist that supports your notion that Noether’s theorem implies no beginning in time for our universe.

            Your questions about causes do not follow from what I wrote, thus I’m unable to understand your point. Boyle’s law is a statistical relation in thermodynamics between temp & pressure that expresses an averaged out value for the speeds of the underlying molecules/atoms in the gas. So what? Where did I express a view about cause & effect? Symmetries ‘breaking’ has causes all the way down until they do not [depending on the symmetry being referred to] – thus if time emerges from a broken symmetry you can’t blithely speak of causes prior to time emerging [nobody knows yet if time is fundamental or an emergent property]. What we DO know is that cause & effect doesn’t work at the quantum level [it doesn’t exist] & that under relativity causes & effects can swap ordering depending on the frame of the observer.

            To counter your query as to “what does a first point in time even mean”, you should think about the implications of there being no first moment… If time is eternal into the past, then how did sufficient time pass for us to be in this era – an eternity of time MUST pass by before we reach now in your scheme. That is a far bigger brain burster than there being some first moment.

            Please supply the reference – I’ve asked twice now.

    3. Noether was truly a giant of 20th century mathematics. Also, by all accounts, she was a wonderful human being—modest and enormously helpful to others. She has an impressive list of doctoral students including Grete Hermann, whose disproof of von Neumann’s no-hidden-variables theorem was ignored for decades until the work of John Stewart Bell.

    1. I don’t care whose account it is, those toads are hilarious. Or are they frogs? Can someone identify them?

  2. Also today, which just crossed my window. Since it happened at Forbes Field, in which there’s some interest here, and also with Roberto Clemente:

    63 years ago today, on July 25th, 1956 a baseball miracle took place before a sparse crowd at Forbes Field.

    In his sophomore year with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Roberto Clemente came to bat with the bases loaded, nobody out, and his team trailing the Chicago Cubs 8-5 in the bottom of the ninth at Forbes Field. He faced pitcher Jim Brosnan.

    As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported:
    “Brosnan made one pitch, high and inside. Clemente drove it against the light standard in left field. Jim King had backed up to make the catch but it was over his head. The ball bounced off the slanted side of the fencing and rolled along the cinder path to center field. Here came Hank Foiles, Bill Virdon and then Dick Cole, heading home and making it easily. Then came Clemente into third. Bobby Bragan had his hands up-stretched to hold up his outfielder. The relay was coming in from Solly Drake. But around third came Clemente and down the home path. He made it just in front of the relay from Ernie Banks. He slid, missed the plate, then reached back to rest his hand on the rubber with the ninth run in a 9-8 victory as the crowd of 12,431 went goofy with excitement.”

    Little did the crowd know but the play that ended the Pirates-Cubs game on July 25, 1956. was, in fact, the ONLY walk-off, inside-the-park grand slam in baseball history.

    An excerpt from

    1. Well, that seems to have been incredibly exciting. But I hardly understood a single word in your account!

      I must tell you about some exciting cricket matches sometime.

      Two cultures, eh?!

      1. “exciting cricket matches”

        Was that an intentional oxymoron? 😉

        Okay, I will agree that baseball and cricket (and probably lawn bowls and croquet) can potentially be exciting – but surely only for a devotee deeply absorbed in the game…


    2. Thanks for this. I have a dear friend who has a special place in his heart for Roberto Clemente and I’m going to send him your comments and the link to the Lit Hub piece.

      1. Likewise, I sent it to my closest pal in grad school (late ’70s). A huge baseball fan, he’s now a professor at a small New England college.

        Many times, when we were in a seminar and someone would put up a huge table of numbers, he’d lean over and say, “And so we can see that Roberto Clemente’s lifetime batting average is…”

  3. Sam Houston had one of the most interesting political careers in American history. He is best known for leading Texas to independence from Mexico in 1836. Prior to that he was governor of Tennessee and represented that state in the U.S. House of Representatives. After that, he served in the Texas House of Representatives and its president twice. After the state was annexed to the Union, he represented Texas in the U.S. Senate and was its governor at the outbreak of the Civil War. He was a Unionist, opposed secession, and resigned from the governor’s office after Texas left the Union.

    As far as I can tell (I could be wrong), he was the only person to have been the president of a foreign country (the Republic of Texas) to later serve in the U.S. congress.

    1. Esperanto has been the “stickiest”, keeping a worldwide community of language hobbyists busy. Its greatest popularity is in Japan, which is odd; it has consonant clusters hard for them to learn. Others, such as Solresol and Volapűk burgeoned in the 19th century and died quickly. Last I knew, there were Ham Radio Esperanto shortwave nets active; most ops were in Japan. Amusing aside: It was developed to bring peace to a multi-ethnic community, but it was used by the US Army in the 1950s to equip and field units of “Republikai Aggressori” as ersatz enemies to oppose and train US troops.

    2. Mi parolas Esperanton. At one time I was conversational and could read just about anything, and I can still read quite a lot. Whether I would have a practical use for it wasn’t a concern: I enjoyed learning the language and that was all the reason I needed.

      One of my favorite Esperanto words is “homaranismo”, which has been translated into English as “humanitism”, but is more like “member-of-humanity-ism”. “hom” is the root for human, “ar” denotes collection, “an” denotes membership, “ism” means “ism”, and “o” makes the word a noun. Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto, originally used the word “hilelismo” for this concept, based on the teachings of Hillel the Elder.

      Cult film buffs might know the 1966 movie “Inkubo” (Incubus), starring William Shatner. It’s bad — I mean really bad — and the pronunciation of Esperanto is awful.

      Pacon al ĉiuj!

    3. I can’t help feeling that if Esperanto ever became a widespread living language, it would immediately start to morph, by the same mechanisms that act on English, French, German, etc etc, and over time would acquire complications and complexities that would render it as hard to learn as any other language.


    1. Hot of Shropshire here ,My broadband has been fading in and out .BT have a recorded message blaming the hot weather ,but the guy next door says his is working ok .And the phone line is all crackly as well ,also it is my 60th birthday today also my brothers birthday as well .
      Being twins it is to be expected i suppose.

  4. If you look around, you can find out what Omar said pre-editing. Key is the phrase and so if fear was the driving force of policies to keep America safe,

    1. The wave video made me think of The Great Wave off Kanagawa

      But the 21 (IIRC) people and the Mount Fuji are not in the video.
      Personally, I think that video is doctored too, an not very well. I can’t imagine why someone went to the effort – the original was a fine enough piece of footage. I’ve seen the tops blown off many a wave, but the stratification of wind speeds implied by the footage just doesn’t look real to me.

  5. Hmm, that Erwitt photo was taken at the Trocadero. On our news tonight were pictures of crowds swimming in the Trocadero pool while the huge fountains (which are more like water cannon) played over them. All on account of the current record heat wave. Bit different from the weather in Erwitt’s photo.


  6. 1861 – American Civil War: George B. McClellan assumes command of the Army of the Potomac following a disastrous Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run.

    On the losing side of “the War of Northern Aggression” (but the winning side of that early battle), I think it was known as “First Manassas.”

    1. Yes, several Civil War battles were given different names by North and South. The North tended to name battles after nearby bodies of water, while the South named them after towns. One of the most famous and deadly battles with different names took place on September 17, 1862. It was known in the North as Antietam, in the South as Sharpsburg. It took place in Maryland.

  7. Rutger Hauer died yesterday. Also, I don’t remember you mentioning that Chris Kraft died two days ago, though not many people know who he is, and there wasn’t much media attention given to it.

    Kraft was Nasa’s first Flight Director (a job he created). He worked there for over a decade before the first moon landing. He directed the flight of the first six Mercury missions. Pretty important dude!

    And Rutger Hauer should have been nominated for an Oscar for his performance in Blade Runner, but he wasn’t. He’s one of my favorite actors, including his roles in earlier Dutch films. Paul Verhoeven recognized Hauer’s ability early, using him for leading roles in multiple films, including Turkish Delight and <Soldier of Orange.

    1. Back in the 1960s, Chris Kraft was a household name. It is difficult to convey to those not alive at the time how enthralled the nation was with space flight. At a time when the country was in turmoil over the civil rights movement and Vietnam, the flights of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo helped to hold it together. These accomplishment, more than half a century ago, still boggle my mind.

      1. Yes, I wasn’t alive at the time, but it’s remarkable how much symbolism means to a nation (or any group of people). Even as someone who was born long after those missions, I still marvel at the accomplishments and eat up any material I can on the subject. I’ve seen a lot of younger people say that going to the moon was a stupid boondoggle, but they don’t understand the importance of such an accomplishment to the national psyche (nor, it seems, that there was a space race with the USSR and that the project also worked to improve rocket and other technologies like guidance systems generally).

    2. I fondly remember Rutger Hauer as Etienne Navarre from the medieval fantasy movie “Ladyhawke”, starring also Michelle Pfeiffer and Matthew Broderick.

      He had also a small, but remarkable role in an episode of the SciFi-series “Lexx” from 1997.

    3. I always liked Rutger Hauer. He had very distinctive looks (as an actor in a leading role should have, IMO).

      He was excellent in Blade Runner, if that ‘time to die’ speech doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, you have no heart. And I do like Ladyhawke, too.


      1. Oh, but it does. It was being suggested to Omar the fear might make hostility against Muslims understandable, and she was replying that if fear was the driving force of policies to keep America safe, we should be targeting segments of the populace from which we have the most to fear. She was definitely not suggesting that fear should be the driving force of policies to keep America safe.

  8. The Erwitt photo immediately reminded me of one by Bresson done in 1932. As a matter of fact the similarity is so obvious, Erwitt, in 1982, must have been deliberately referencing the French master. While Bresson made a true candid shot, Erwitt’s looks like a set piece (although he is described as a candid photographer). The lovers with the umbrella are positioned just so, a bit too pretty, and the leaper shows the skill of ballet dancer, not someone just wandering by. I think he is making a sly comment on candidness here, which would be in character for him because he had an irreverent sense of humor. Here’s the comparable Bresson image:

    1. Here’s an interesting observation – My link was to a film on the Khan Academy site. When I click on the link it takes me to the next film in the series. Khan is so clever he remembers I’ve already seen the one on Bresson.

    1. One used to be able to buy a copy of the Presidential Seal from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Several years ago it [and the Vice-Presidential Seal] were removed from sale, though you can still buy The Great Seal of the United States and the Treasury Department seal. The story I heard was that the BEP stopped selling them because they were being used by people to falsely imply that they were on the White House staff.

  9. While from an objective standpoint, I don’t approve of Buzz Aldrin giving that denier a roundhouse punch. I can’t help saying, “Right on, dude!” And he’s a senior citizen, too. Nice to see that. The denier also engaged in a strange ad hominem attack.

    Following that thread leads to this nutty photo of the past chairman of the Caltech Geology Department welcoming the new chairman, titled “Second Of All, What Kind Of A Geology Field Trip Is This?” I didn’t know they had so much fun at Caltech.

    1. Yup, my feelings too.

      I disapprove of violence on principle, but that asshole richly deserved a poke in the snoot.


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