Friday: Hili dialogue

August 16, 2019 • 6:45 am

It’s Friday, August 16, 2019, and National Rum Day. It’s also National Bratwurst Day, and a holiday I can’t adhere to: National Men’s Grooming Day. It’s also Xicolatada in Palau-de-Cerdagne, France, a day when hot chocolate is distributed as a hangover palliative.

Stuff that happened on August 16 include:

  • 1792 – Maximilien de Robespierre presents the petition of the Commune of Paris to the Legislative Assembly, which demanded the formation of a revolutionary tribunal.
  • 1858 – U.S. President James Buchanan inaugurates the new transatlantic telegraph cable by exchanging greetings with Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. However, a weak signal forces a shutdown of the service in a few weeks.
  • 1896 – Skookum Jim Mason, George Carmack and Dawson Charlie discover gold in a tributary of the Klondike River in Canada, setting off the Klondike Gold Rush.
  • 1920 – Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians is hit on the head by a fastball thrown by Carl Mays of the New York Yankees, and dies early the next day. Chapman was the second player to die from injuries sustained in a Major League Baseball game, the first being Doc Powers in 1909.
  • 1930 – The first color sound cartoon, Fiddlesticks, is released by Ub Iwerks.

And. . .  here it is! Is that a precursor of Mickey Mouse I see?

  • 1954 – The first issue of Sports Illustrated is published.
  • 1962 – Pete Best is discharged from The Beatles, to be replaced two days later by Ringo Starr.

Best was replaced by George Martin and Brian Epstein because his drumming—his sense of timing—was deemed inadequate for British studio work. (There were other reasons as well.) Best formed his own group, and is still alive.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1815 – John Bosco, Italian priest and educator (d. 1888)
  • 1888 – T. E. Lawrence, British colonel, diplomat, writer and archaeologist (d. 1935)

As Lawrence was one of my heroes, here’s a picture I took 13 years ago in Dorset of his house (“Clouds Hill“), the lintel, and his bathtub.  The Green over the door says οὐ φροντὶς (“Why Worry”), from Hippocleides:

More stuff on this day:

  • 1913 – Menachem Begin, Belarusian-Israeli politician, 6th Prime Minister of Israel, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1992)
  • 1924 – Fess Parker, American actor (d. 2010)
  • 1945 – Suzanne Farrell, American ballerina and educator
  • 1947 – Carol Moseley Braun, American lawyer and politician, United States Ambassador to New Zealand
  • 1958 – Madonna, American singer-songwriter, producer, actress, and director

Those who expired on August 16 include two miscreants (Abu Nidal and Idi Amin):

  • 1705 – Jacob Bernoulli, Swiss mathematician and theorist (b. 1654)
  • 1733 – Matthew Tindal, English philosopher and author (b. 1657)
  • 1948 – Babe Ruth, American baseball player and coach (b. 1895)
  • 1949 – Margaret Mitchell, American journalist and author (b. 1900)
  • 1973 – Selman Waksman, Ukrainian-American biochemist and microbiologist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1888)
  • 1977 – Elvis Presley, American singer, guitarist, and actor (b. 1935)
  • 2002 – Abu Nidal, Palestinian terrorist leader (b. 1937)
  • 2003 – Idi Amin, Ugandan field marshal and politician, 3rd President of Uganda (b. 1928)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili gets a biology lesson from Andrzej:

Hili: What are those sparrows fighting about?
A: They are probably fighting about which one is stronger.
In Polish:
Hili: O co te wróble się biją?
Ja: Prawdopodobnie spierają się o to, który jest silniejszy.

From Merilee:


From reader Karl. Never touch the belly!

This tweet was sent to me by Grania on December 3 of last year. Watch this and ponder how much Republicans have changed.

I made a tweet!

Two tweets from Heather Hastie. I love skunks (I once had a pet one), and this is a BIG skunk family! (This one was found by Ann German.)

Also via Ann German. Oh, the inhumanity of this procedure!

From Nilou: the travails of an unrelated man named Jeffrey Epstein:

Three tweets from Matthew. The first two are on whiffling. I must have gotten the idea from these sent me by Matthew recently, but I’d forgotten! Anyway, you can’t get enough whiffling. Dig that crazy goose!

Look at this gorgeous mineral. I’d love to have this specimen!




39 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. Isa, who was featured in the post of readers’ cats on International Cat Day absolutely loves not only being petted in the “Are You Crazy?” zone, she likes being rubbed vigorously there. Furthermore, she also enjoys cuddles in the “Meh”, “Stop!!” and “Umm, No.” zones as well. If cuddles and fusses were cat food, she’s weigh forty pounds.

        1. The only touching Isa is chary about is her paws. She does not like to have them touched or held, and if I had to trim her claws I’d have a real struggle on my hands (she is declawed on all fours, and that’s how she came to me – I didn’t have it done, and even if I wanted to, my vet wouldn’t do it.) My other cat, Samone, did not interact with me at all for her first few months. When I petted her, she gave me this look that said, “Oh, go ahead, but get it over with.” Since that time, she has learned the desirability of cuddles and now actively seeks them out, but is still resistant to being picked up and held.

  2. 1920 – Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians is hit on the head by a fastball thrown by Carl Mays of the New York Yankees, and dies early the next day. Chapman was the second player to die from injuries sustained in a Major League Baseball game, the first being Doc Powers in 1909.

    The batting helmet didn’t come into use in the Majors until the Forties, and wasn’t made mandatory until the Fifties. The ear-flap to the helmet was added as mandatory in the Eighties.

    Worst hit-by-a-pitch incident I recall was Boston Red Sox hometown hero Tony Conigliaro getting his flush in the face by a pitch (rumored to be an illegal spitball) thrown by the Angels’ hurler Jack Hamilton in 1967. I still recall the Sports Illustrated cover showing the aftermath.

    The injury was thought to be career-ending, but Conigliaro made a comeback with the Sox a couple seasons later, though deteriorating sight in his injured eye made Tony C hang up his cleats for good by the mid-Seventies.

    1. It’s bonkers to me that only four ice hockey players from notable professional leagues ever died on the ice (or, in once case, soon after due to injuries incurred during play). Guys didn’t even wear helmets until the 1980’s and, even then, it took until around 1990 for nearly everyone to wear a helmet (the helmet rule did not force players already in the league to wear a helmet, so Craig MacTavish was the last player to play without one, continuing to do so until 1997-98). Goalies had pucks flying at their heads at what was likely about 80 to 85 MPH before they stated wearing rudimentary masks. The first goaltender to wear a mask did so in 1959, and the last to play without one was in 1974. Nearly 100 years of hockey without goalie masks, and even longer without players helmets, despite the fact that players often swung their sticks at each others’ heads back in the old days.

      On an entirely unrelated note, I’ve watched two movies over the last two days that I’d like to recommend: Mandy and Top Secret. Mandy is a fantastic new film that, if you haven’t seen it yet, will absolutely blow you away with it’s cinematography and use of color, to say nothing of the wonderful actors involved. You may have seen Top Secret before, but I hadn’t, as it seems it’s the great forgotten Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker movie, made just before Airplane. It’s hilarious and stars Val Kilmer in his first ever role.

      1. I grew up watching hockey, and sometimes playing, badly, and remember well the lack of helmets, face masks, and teeth on the ice, though there was frequently a tooth on the ice, root and all. Fortunately for hockey and baseball, there hasn’t seemed to be nearly as much of the “risk homeostasis” injury (injury due to misuse of, or unsafe acts encouraged by, the safety gear) and in US football, and many hockey players retire with reasonably intact facial structure and teeth, relative to 40 years ago.

        1. Well, you’re right about almost all of that, as hockey players who make it to the professional level almost almost lose multiple teeth 🙂 Skaters still (and likely never will) wear full face masks unless they’re recovering from an injury like a broken jaw. Since they only wear visors to protect their eyes, they still get hit in the mouth with the odd puck and errant stick. Many hockey players have dentures for when they’re outside the rink.

        1. Oh, you’re going to love it! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts. It’s so utterly unique, like a combo between the colors of Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void and the heightened violence of a Kim Jee-Woon revenge flick.

  3. This day is also the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester. A 60,000-strong crowd of working-class people assembled in St Peter’s Field in Manchester to peacefully demand political representation, at a time when only the wealthy could vote in elections to Parliament. They were met with a violent response from the local militia, who attacked them with sabres on the orders of the local magistrates. At least fifteen of the protestors were killed, and hundreds injured.

    It was dubbed the “Peterloo Massacre” in an ironic reference to the Battle of Waterloo, which had been fought four years earlier.

    The tragedy had two positive outcomes. The first was the founding of The Manchester Guardian newspaper, now known simply as The Guardian. The other was the beginning of a century of gradual widening of the franchise, culminating in women finally getting the vote in 1919.

    The Guardian’s North of England editor writes about the event in today’s edition:

    There is also a movie, directed by Mike Leigh. And I can personally recommend the book “Peterloo: The Story of the Manchester Massacre” by Jacqueline Riding.

    1. The body count I heard was 18. Of course there was an attempt at covering it up. So-called democracy of the time included a property-ownership criterion for being able to vote. As well as a possession of a penis.

        1. A good question. Which I’m sure would have been answered by the inevitable fascination of students with that sort of thing.
          Why am I now thinking of “Pope Joan” and the legendary (?) “papal stool.

          Some versions of the legend suggest that subsequent popes were subjected to an examination whereby, having sat on a so-called sedia stercoraria or “dung chair” containing a hole, a cardinal had to reach up and establish that the new pope had testicles, before announcing “Duos habet et bene pendentes” (“He has two, and they dangle nicely”), or “habet” (“he has them”) for short.

          For equally inexplicable reasons, I think of Tycho Brahe’s silver nose.

          1. The Brahe nose. WIKI reckons it was brass:

            …kept in place with paste or glue & said to be made of silver and gold. In November 2012, Danish and Czech researchers reported that the prosthetic was actually made out of brass after chemically analysing a small bone sample from the nose from the body exhumed in 2010

            1. It wouldn’t be the first jeweller who made something out of brass and then silver – or gold – plated it.

  4. I’m skeptical about whiffling being about descending quickly. First, the bird in the video is not that high up to start with there doesn’t seem to be a reason to dive. Second, it doesn’t seem to descend that fast anyway. Perhaps they do it because they can, it’s fun, they’re just showing off, etc.

    1. I suspect both reasons pertain. Rapid decent, though, seems to be the primary reason. Here on the snake river you can see the geese circling at about 200 feet when they will suddenly decide where they want to land. They can drop quite dramatically, loosing altitude in clusters until they are within gliding and landing distance. I can definitely tell you they are having fun though. You can see it in there expression.
      I’ve done something like it myself in a small plane. It’s called a slip landing. You don’t actually invert the plane, just turn it to produce more drag. Here’s a clip that shows the technique.

      1. I don’t see slipping as similar to inversion. Slipping offers more surfaces (the side of the plane and vertical stabilizer to drag thereby reducing speed. In theory, inversion directs the lift generated by the wings downward. Based only on this clip, the bird seems to be combining the inversion with a great angle of attack that cancels the downward lift. This would increase drag so perhaps it is more about slowing down than diving which would make it more like slipping after all.

        1. Yes, inversion does have a major advantage. Slips increase drag to reduce speed which reduces lift and causes the plane to drop more quickly. I’ve also done a super-slip which is an exaggerated slip. Here the nose is pointed almost straight down as in a dive and a slip is applied at the same time to keep speed from building up. I’d like to try inversion, but I lack the intestinal fortitude.

    2. I have looked at a few bird sites & here is what I found. I’m only reporting – I’ve never seen this behaviour, but that’s understandable because bird life around my way is tubby pigeons, tubby crows, tubby magpies & marginally tubby gulls [when they come inland 70 miles to avoid coastal storms] – Brummie birds are well fed on takeaway leavings & other urban organic detritus.

      Whiffling most often doesn’t result in a bird being upside down – as rickflick mentions it’s nearly always just a zigzag sideslip, presenting one beam & then the other beam to the airflow with the intention of greatly increasing the sink rate when coming in for a landing. I have read all over the place that this happens most often in wildfowling areas – all those mighty gents with their shotguns… But, this explanation is word-for-word identical everywhere I’ve seen it so I discount this until someone has done a comparison study.

      Allied WWII fighter & fighter-bomber pilots based in in the Low Countries & France post D-Day used to do a half circuit in line astern & upon starting the 180 to get on the tight-in landing approach they’d zoom up high on the turn & plunge down with full air brakes & hit the mesh runway as soon as possible. Purpose: get a very clear view of the landing area, be in a fighting posture for as long as possible & minimise time at low speed & low altitude to reduce risk of being bounced by Jerry in the comments section

      I have also read that prey birds use it to confuse faster predators on their six. WWII again: fighter pilots who mastered doing a dirty turn where you ‘skid’ out on the turn [opposite of training where efficient turns are praised highly] can lose the attacker’s bead who will assume you’ll do as tight a turn as possible. Messy, alert, cunning fliers can live longer.

      My own explanation I haven’t seen written anywhere – it’s mine & this is it:
      When I glid as a yuff at RAF Cosford we had a constrained landing width to one side only of the runway on the grass. On the opposite side of the runway was the posh knobs with their super-gliders in white & all the best kit. They got towed on the runway by Cessna [not us] & we both used winches only yards from the runway. tight, tight, tight, but we knew that to land & minimise running on along the ground, the way to do it was slam on the spoilers coming out of the approach turn & either zig in or zag in a side slip, straightening at two feet & keep the spoilers perked. You could hit your spot within a five yard circle in all flyable conditions & stop rolling within 80 yards. Chance of ground collision zero.

      These birdies fear a crash on the water with a comrade because it’s hollow bird bones & one little break is death. If you want to land among the safety of your pals you come in as steep as you can & as fast as you can – the faster you are the less trouble from air conditions near the water surface which will be very different from six feet up. Simple.

      1. word of explanation: once a glider is rolling after landing [or birdie surfing after landing] you have no control so you pick a good line before landing & keep the rolling/surfing length to a minimum. I assume flocks of water birds land/take off into the wind all the same for eleven good reasons including not crossing paths.

      2. Your theory, which is yours, has some merit. As these complex behaviors evolve, some measure of compromise between goals is likely. So, if the wiffling serves several purposes at once, I would not be surprised.

        I can augment your info on predators using this technique with a reprise of a video I submitted a while back showing a northern harrier hunting starlings. The wiffle in this case may be a combination of a dive and a (confusing?) folding of the wings. The harrier drops from above with a lot of twists which spill air and reduce lift and increases speed.

        A good example is at 56 seconds, where I slowed the film for a better view.

          1. The screams of the harrier, or the screams of the starlings being ripped from the air?

            The film had poor sound and background noise, so I had to remove it. No screams could be heard on the original, anyway.

            1. I only get to hear fox mating call screeches around here at 0100 hrs ish – sounds like a coven of witches [at a guess] ripping each other apart limb from limb. Anything you’ve got in the same ballpark please will help me sleep. 🙂

      3. Makes sense.

        BTW, I visited the RAF Museum at Cosford just a few months ago. Very interesting. Also BTW, some of the YouTube videos of the shortest landings are pretty amazing. Of course, they do generally take advantage of a strong headwind.

        1. I like the Engines, the Mossie. the 190 & a nifty little early monoplane [British I think – can’t recall name]. The museum is a right old mixture – surprises at every turn.

  5. “Mannardite” was a new one to me. Mixed barium titanate-vanadate. Without going in detail into the crystallography, I’ll bet the dimensions of the titanate unit cell would be fairly similar to that of quartz. Several other titanium oxide minerals are frequently recorded as inclusions in quartz, particularly rutile (one of the TiO//2 polymorphs). Rutilated quartz is lovely, but I’ve never found any – except in rock shops.

    from Brazil

    A fairly safe bet is that it’s from the state called Minas Gerais – “General Mines”. The name sort of gives it away. Immense amounts of stuff on the “geopr0n” market comes from there.

  6. “Is that a precursor of Mickey Mouse I see?”

    Mickey was created in 1928 by Disney and Ub Iwerks; this cartoon dates from two years afterward, when Iwerks had left Disney to found his own studio (it folded in 1936 and Iwerks went back to Disney).

    But in a sense the mouse is a precursor of Mickey, because it resembles the standard cartoon mice of the silent era and Mickey’s earliest design.

  7. Years ago I studied Pied-billed Grebes, waterbirds somewhat like ducks. They are somewhat less gracefully aerodynamic than bumblebees and are rarely seen in flight, although they are long-distance migrants. (Perhaps they tunnel underground??)

    One of the few times I saw a Pied-billed Grebe flying, it coming down very gradually — which put it on a collision course with the dike. So it “whiffled” once. Good, but it needed to go lower. Again. And a third — no! It lost lift and tumbled to the water with a splash.

    (It was fine. Bobbed to the surface like a cork and then did a noisy splash-dive of fear and disappeared.)

    1. Very interesting. I have not seen them fly either. They are diving birds, after all, and so don’t need to leave the water often (unless tunneling).

    2. Grebes are too insecure for their own good – they avoid flying when there’s people around, embarrassed by their Imelda-Marcos-extravagant lobed footwear. I’d be proud to have lobes like that – never get me off the dance floor.

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