Wednesday: Hili dialogue

September 4, 2019 • 6:30 am

It’s Wednesday, September 4, 2019, and National Macademia Nut Day. Three facts about the nuts: they are native to Australia; there are four species in the genus (Macadamia, of course), only three of which can be cultivated since the fourth has poisonous nuts; and all of the nuts are toxic to dogs.

It’s also Eat an Extra Dessert Day, though what if you don’t usually eat desserts? Are you just allowed one? It’s also Newspaper Carrier Day in the U.S. (like most boys of my generation, I did this job for a while).

Good News of the Day: Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam has withdrawn the extradition bill that sparked all the protests in her bailiwick.  And in Britain, the odious and dictatorial Boris Johnson lost a vote in Parliament, preventing him from unilaterally removing his country out of the EU. This may lead to another election, and (I am ignorant here) perhaps to a new Prime Minister. In that case Johnson would have had one of the shortest ministerial tenures in British history.

Stuff that happened on September 4 includes:

  • 476 – Romulus Augustulus, last emperor of the Western Roman Empire, is deposed when Odoacer proclaims himself “King of Italy”, thus ending the Western Roman Empire.
  • 1781 – Los Angeles is founded as El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora La Reina de los Ángeles (The Village of Our Lady, the Queen of the Angels) by 44 Spanish settlers.
  • 1839 – Battle of Kowloon: British vessels open fire on Chinese war junks enforcing a food sales embargo on the British community in China in the first armed conflict of the First Opium War.

Remember that these wars started after the Chinese objected to the illegal importation of opium into China by British and American companies followed by armed action by the Chinese against these companies.

  • 1886 – American Indian Wars: After almost 30 years of fighting, Apache leader Geronimo, with his remaining warriors, surrenders to General Nelson Miles in Arizona.

Geronimo lived the remaining 23 years of his life as both a prisoner and an attraction (people bought buttons off his coat), and died in 1909 after being thrown from his horse. As Wikipedia reports, “His last words were reported to be said to his nephew, ‘I should have never surrendered. I should have fought until I was the last man alive’.”  Here’s the brave warrior in 1887

  • 1939 – World War II: William J. Murphy commands the first Royal Air Force attack on Germany.
  • 1941 – World War II: A German submarine makes the first attack of the war against a United States warship, the USS Greer.
  • 1949 – The Peekskill riots erupt after a Paul Robeson concert in Peekskill, New York.
  • 1957 – American Civil Rights Movement: Little Rock Crisis: Orval Faubus, governor of Arkansas, calls out the National Guard to prevent African American students from enrolling in Central High School.
  • 1957 – The Ford Motor Company introduces the Edsel.
  • 1970 – Salvador Allende is elected President of Chile.
  • 1972 – Mark Spitz becomes the first competitor to win seven medals at a single Olympic Games.

Remarkably, each of his medals also represented a world record time. Here’s a short video of his accomplishments:

One person won eight gold medals in a single Olympic Games. Can you name that person? (Go here.)

  • 1972 – The Price Is Right premieres on CBS. As of 2018, it is the longest running game show on American television.
  • 1985 – The discovery of Buckminsterfullerene, the first fullerene molecule of carbon.

Buckminsterfullerene, or “buckeyballs” is a soccer-ball shaped carbon molecule with the formula C60, discovered in 1985 by Harold Kroto, Robert Curl, and Richard Smalley, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this in 1996. The molecule looks like this:

  • 1998 – Google is founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two students at Stanford University.
  • 2002 – The Oakland Athletics win their 20th consecutive game, an American League record.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1846 – Daniel Burnham, American architect, designed the World’s Columbian Exposition (d. 1912)
  • 1906 – Max Delbrück, German-American biophysicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1981)
  • 1908 – Richard Wright, American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet (d. 1960)
  • 1913 – Stanford Moore, American biochemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1982)
  • 1920 – Craig Claiborne, American journalist, author, and critic (d. 2000)
  • 1981 – Beyoncé, American singer-songwriter, producer, dancer, and actress

Those who became lifeless on September 4 include:

  • 1907 – Edvard Grieg, Norwegian pianist and composer (b. 1843)
  • 1965 – Albert Schweitzer, French-Gabonese physician, theologian, and missionary, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1875)
  • 1986 – Hank Greenberg, American baseball player and manager (b. 1911)
  • 1993 – Hervé Villechaize, French-American actor (b. 1943)
  • 2006 – Steve Irwin, Australian zoologist and television host (b. 1962)
  • 2014 – Joan Rivers, American comedian, television host, and author (b. 1933)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili tries once again to be philosophical.

A:  Hili, there is a dead mouse in the middle of the lawn.
Hili: And they said that the truth is in the middle.
In Polish:
Ja: Hili, pośrodku trawnika znowu leży martwa mysz!
Hili: A mówili, że pośrodku leży prawda.

From I Am Not a Grammar Cop, I am an English-Language Enthusiast.  Clean-up in aisle 5!

From Amazing Things: “Adorable chalk micro graffiti by David Zinn”:

A tweet Grania sent me on April 5. See how long it takes before you realize what this is:

From Michael. Can you believe that Boris Johnson is moving a DOG into 10 Downing Street? Figures! And Larry, the resident cat and Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, doesn’t like it:

A tweet from Nilou. Wouldn’t it be cool to tell the robot chef, “Alex, whip me up a Caesar salad without anchovies, a ribeye steak, rare, with a side of mashed potatoes and asparagus, and baked Alaska for dessert.”?

A tweet from Heather Hastie. Are these the Sharks or the Jets?

Four tweets from Matthew, who’s still sending them though he’s on hols.  Look at this poor baby barn owl!

Cats will be cats. . .

LOOK AT THIS BEHEMOTH! And it’s only half the size of a blue whale. Did you know (and this is true) that the blue whale’s tongue weighs as much as an adult female elephant?

And an enlightening thread headed by Nick Christakis:

39 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. This may lead to another election, and (I am ignorant here) perhaps to a new Prime Minister. In that case Johnson would have had one of the shortest ministerial tenures in British history.

    You are not alone in your ignorance. I’ve lived in the UK all my life and I count myself as relatively well informed about our politics. I have no idea whether there will be a new prime minister soon or not. My guess is yes.

    Anyway, as I write, Boris is facing questions from the House of Commons. My sense is it is not going well, but that could be confirmation bias.

    Boris has said he doesn’t want an election, which means he probably does (because he is a habitual liar) and he will try to trigger an election if he loses the vote to force him to ask for a Brexit extension instead of having no deal.

    There are two ways to trigger an election.

    The easy way is to lose a no confidence vote. This requires either getting Corbyn to cooperate and propose a no confidence vote or proposing a no confidence vote himself. The problem with this route is that there is a 14 day period in which somebody else could form a government and become prime minister. I think, with the expulsion of the 21 Conservative rebels, this is more probable than not.

    The hard way is to have a vote to dissolve the government but he needs two thirds of all MPs to pass that. That means he needs the cooperation of Labour and I see that at least some Labour MPs are telling Corbyn not to cooperate until an extension to the Brexit deadline has been secured. Boris won the leadership battle mainly on the promise that the Brexit deadline would not be extended. I think, if it was his support within the Conservative Party would collapse.

    1. What I do not understand (among many other things about Brexit) is why it appears that all British politicians even having a small chance of becoming PM, are in favour of Brexit, while it is clear (well, even there I might be mistaken) that a majority of the population would rather remain now that the consequences are clearer.

      1. It’s not clear that the majority is in favour of Remain. The opinion polls have been remain for some time, but the margin over Brexit is still within the error bars.

        The other problem is that a lot of the British press would become quite rabid should a politician try to wave away the referendum result. That is why the Lib Dems are in favour of a referendum rather than just staying in. Personally I would vote for anybody who says fuck the referendum but I am in a minority. A lot of people think that respecting a vote that occurred more than three years ago is more important than not destroying the country.

        1. The other problem is that a lot of the British press would become quite rabid should

          their billionaire owners face the prospect of the EU’s 2020 tranche of anti-tax evasion and anti-offshoring of financial assets regulations come into force.
          Follow the money!

          1. …and that’s another thing… anti-tax evasion and anti-offshoring? Why has this been going on for decades without any counter-action? Same in the US. Every candidate for president since I was in my larval stage has promised to fix it. You don’t suppose (get ready for conspiracy theory) the billionaires are buying off the legislators do you?

    2. There are some complicated issues of timing too. There’s a minimum of (IIRC) 25 (working) days between a vote for election and holding an election, and there’s the prorogation order standing too. So Johnson is trying to push things to a time that he can choose an election date so that Article 50 can’t be withdrawn by the “United” Kingdom because it has no government.
      The question is also, would Europe want us back in, or consider us too toxic to be trusted as members.

      1. The EU would have us back like a shot. We are one of the richest nations in it and that would benefit the EU both in terms of funding and export opportunities for companies in other EU countries.

        1. Under standard conditions. Euro. Full freedom of movement. No offshore tax havens.
          There’ll be fighting in the streets over at least two of them. The press barons will get immensely upset about one of them.

          1. If we withdraw article 50 before time’s up, we never will have left so we keep our current agreement. That already includes, btw, free movement and the upcoming tax haven stuff.

            If we leave and come back in, the only problematic one I see is the Euro. However, we will never have to actually adopt it. Sweden technically has to join the Euro, but they have explicitly said they will never enter the European Exchange Rate Mechanism which is a mandatory precondition for joining the Euro, so they will never join the Euro either.

            1. If we leave and come back in, the only problematic one I see is the Euro.

              What’s the problem – it’s just another currency to deal with. Its not like having 6 currencies on a monthly expenses report is significantly different to having 5.

              However, we will never have to actually adopt it. Sweden technically has to join the Euro, but they have explicitly said they will never enter the European Exchange Rate Mechanism

              The fact that the neighbours don’t follow the rules (e.g. – the pavements are still blocked with yesterday’s wheelie bins. There was a wheelchair user forced into the road this morning, as there is most Tuesdays.) is no reason to not follow the rules oneself. I know it’s a common claim about the EU, but so what. If anything it’s one of the few endearing traits of the British system – that they’re more inclined to follow rules than some others. Saying “we’ll follow the rules – but our fingers are crossed so we won’t follow the rules” is a particularly childish trait. Very popular with some politicians who are currently wailing about having had their legislative ball taken away by the heidie.

              1. The Euro is a problem because it means no longer having the pound and that would be a step too far for a lot of otherwise pro-Europe British people.

                The Euro is also a problem because it was always a bad idea. The fact that Germany and Greece share a currency is great news for Germany with its strong economy but really bad news for Greece with its basket case of an economy.

                Sweden is not breaking the rules by not adopting the Euro. The UK can do the same without breaking the rules.

  2. “1939 – World War II: William J. Murphy commands the first Royal Air Force attack on Germany”

    Pilot Officer William J. Murphy was the first member of the RAF to die in action in WWII on that first attack on Germany [Wilhelmshaven harbour shipping], but I doubt he was commanding since Pilot Officer is the lowest commissioned rank in the RAF. Anyway Wilhelmshaven was a complete cock up [intelligence, equipment, planning, preparation, training & execution – small example: one bomber took off with no bombs! An oversight of some kind] & it helped to teach us Brits that “the bomber will always get through” was a mantra that should be chucked in the bin.

    1. Was that the raid where some aircraft ,could not find the target so they dropped their bombs into the sea ,also wasn’t half the aircraft shot down .

      1. Yes. Under-trained, poorly led crews from two [or three] squadrons – only a few planes from each sqn all flying as one unit. Unable to formation fly adequately get clobbered by fighters & ship AA. There was a few actions over a short period of days & the Germans quickly established countermeasures to an obvious, open British strategy. Vast overconfidence & no thought as far as I can see to putting in some deceptive opening moves before striking. Disgraceful.

        The higher ups in the chain of command had been warned** these units were not battle ready, but went ahead anyway. The UK armed forces took a year or three to weed out the, usually upper class, privately wealthy, incompetents in their command structure. A lot of officers in the interwar years treated their military service units as their club – an amateur hobby with the opportunity to mess about in fancy planes, tanks & boats. Not good when the more business-like Germans came knocking.

        ** The bombers underwent pre-action formation flying training including mock attacks by the chaps with Spitfires from Tangmere. Tangmere made it clear these bomber boys were useless at coordinating as a unit.

        1. There is a book by A j Smithers called A New Excalibur ,The Development Of The Tank 1909=1939 ,talking about Dunkirk ,he said one of the better things to come out of it was the capture of a lot of Majors and Lt Colonels who had outlived their usefulness ,or words to that effect .

          1. Good old Smithers, I’ve read a lot of his stuff – all our officers over 35 years years of age: we should have rounded them up & shipped them over to Jerry for safe keeping.

            We still had too many officers in cloud cuckoo land even to the end of the war. e.g. Operation Market-Garden – XXX Corps needed a bit more verve than displayed – sometimes wizened caution needs to take a back seat & you go hell for leather down that road full of unknowns.

            “Cavalry generals, and they were many, denied all their recent experiences and continued to extol the power of the well-bred horse”

            A. J. Smithers, Rude Mechanicals – An Account of Tank Maturity During the Second World War [London: Lee Cooper, 1987]

            1. Ah ,he has a dry sense of humour ,he describes the A11 Mk1 Infantry tank as looking as if a lot of it’s vital parts are missing ,or it has suffered some kind of accident .
              And his comment on TOG (look it up) as being big enough inside to hold a small private dance .

  3. The Moley Robotic Kitchen:

    Baloney. Yet another of the hundreds [or thousands] of crowdfunding scams out there looking for deep pocket ijits.

    The Tweet video is a clip from the below 2015 Moley video & of course it’s ‘vapourware’ – a start up seeking investment & then we shall see the usual series of vague progress reports over the years with no commercial product ever appearing. Meanwhile the principals draw nice salaries & find even more fools with cash to burn. Eventually the enterprise will quietly shut down & the scammers will move on to fresh fields of B.S.

    If robots were anywhere near this level of sophistication the automotive industry would be all over this for their production lines. Automotive robots work in a highly controlled environment doing one task each excellently – tasks that are basically idiot proof such as spot welding or attaching one specific widget or paint spraying. The complexities of cooking a meal from raw ingredients? Probably not happening this side of 2050 unless it’s a dedicated kitchen using specially designed semi-prepared food packages that are slotted in like a cassette [or cassettes].

    It’s the same over-promising nonsense as the totally autonomous vehicle – the hype is scaling back now to achievable, sensible goals where the vehicle is let loose in fairly predictable environments such as a well defined bus route with well defined bus stops.

    1. Thanks for the perspective. No wonder internet research leads to deep, deep, skepticism. It also help you hang on to your retirement savings. BTW, retirees often enjoy cooking for themselves.

      1. Retiree cooking for loved ones is sanity preserving when done at leisure with an experimental mindset. I reckon Bourdain lost touch with that while being catered for on his travels, became ungrounded. There was a fussy ‘nouvelle cuisine’ 2-star Michelin gourmet restaurant at his death hotel/spa – not exactly the robust, earthy kind of grub he preferred – I don’t think he understood himself or he’d have insisted on staying at places more in tune with his tastes. My theory.

        1. Yep, sucker bait. Any device with this level of complexity would have all its fingers (and the mechanisms within) fully ensheathed in some form of skin. Think of how long they would last bathed in tomato juice or hot soapy water (washing-up robot??). That alone gave it away.

    2. If I ever “go robotic” I want one with legs that’s going to go out and buy the right ingredients to start with.

      The last thing I need is some two-armed talking wonder saying “Are those the freshest peppers you could get? And how do you expect me to work with this inferior cookware?”

      1. I agree AND Robot Chef must put away everything neatly, leave the kitchen spotless & not cluck its tongue when some unknown person sneaks down at 3am & takes a huge bite out of the roast beef joint in the fridge.

    3. I think (though I’m not an expert!) that the industrial robots in car factories are capable of doing a wide array of tasks, but they are actually programmed to repeat just one very precisely controlled sequence of actions. (Different car model comes along, they are reprogrammed).

      So they could act as cooking robots BUT they would have to make precisely the same dish every time, from precisely the same raw ingredients.

      Their yooman owners would soon find the cuisine to be rather boring.


      1. As you know infinite – there isn’t a robot out there that could come into a standard yooman kitchen & cook a programmed chilli con carne from the ingredients, pots, utensils & hob it would find there. And there may well not be in our lifetimes & if industry has its way there may never be. It doesn’t make economic sense to go to the trouble of creating a useful general robot unless you can tie the customer in to some scheme where there’s an ongoing flow of profit for the manufacturer – at the minimum an eye watering warranty & insurance scheme against poisoning the family pooch etc etc.

        It is simpler & more profitable to sell a fully automated kitchen with each ingredient in unique barcoded capsules that only work in that brand of kitchen. My neighbour bought a Nespresso coffee machine & discovered the long con of being tied in to a branded, protected capsule system.

        The only robot in use that can be thrown into any house & left to get on with it [after some flesh beast has set up the ‘zones’ & charging points] is the iRobot Roomba which is possibly marginally smarter than my Dyson Perfection [ha!] V.11 which is supposed to detect floor covering types & tell you there’s a blockage [smoke & mirrors over-selling that I fell for dammit].

        1. My neighbour bought a Nespresso coffee machine & discovered the long con of being tied in to a branded, protected capsule system.

          That wasn’t obvious viewing it through Nelson’s eyepatch, from inside a deep cave on a different continent while you’re still learning to bang the rocks together? Your neighbour isn’t the sharpest obsidian flake in the thumb.
          I was doing night shift cover in the offices of a major oil company (early internet communication of live data to shore ; they wanted someone to keep notes and cover urgent decisions at godawful-o’clock) back in the mid-90s and bumped into the Facilities manager going home several hours late. Even in that environment, he was moaning about the ludicrous cost of the “capsule” things then, and it only came from his budget, not his pocket.

    4. Thank you. I called bullshit about five seconds into this video. Maybe someday, in the not too distant future, robots will be this sophisticated. Nowhere near there presently. Hyped-up puffery to snare the credulous ones out there.

  4. The 2008 Olympics saw not only Michael Phelps winning eight gold medals in a single Games, it also showcased probably the greatest performance in the history of track racing when Usain Bolt won golds and set world records in both the 100M and 200M events. They were the most dominating, powerful races I’ve ever seen.

    (repost – misplaced this in an earlier thread)

  5. I guess they take their Prime Ministerships seriously over there. Over here they will let any fool be president for like forever.

  6. Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam has withdrawn the extradition bill that sparked all the protests in her bailiwick.

    Correction: She has claimed to withdraw the bill. She has no power to do so. Only the Legislative Council does.

    And I doubt the protests will die down, the recent ones have all been focused on police brutality, such as shooting people in the head, allowing triads to beat up citizens (21st July), aiming loaded guns at citizens, sitting in front of school gates to arrest students (brutally: one student was handcuffed on the ground, then a police officer stepped on the chain and another stomped on her hand), and directly beating up citizens in a train station (31st August iirc, could be 30th).

    The MTR Corporation, the one that runs all trains in HK, is also under a lot of flak for using their trains to transport police officers to protest areas, and that is after shutting down those stations in an attempt to trap protesters there. On 31st August, they deliberately stopped a train so riot police could go in and start beating up people and spray pepper spray everywhere, and the only announcement they made afterwards was that they had to stop a train to allow the arrests of “violent protesters”, completely ignoring what the police did.


  7. “This may lead to another election, and (I am ignorant here) perhaps to a new Prime Minister.”

    The Prime Minister is the leader of the majority Party in the House of Commons. The majority Party being the one that (possibly in collaboration with an allied party) has the greatest number of seats.

    So if there was an election and the Conservatives lost then obviously there would automatically be a new Prime Minister from a different party. If the Conservatives won then Boris would continue as PM, UNLESS the Conservatives themselves voted subsequently to replace him with someone else. This is how Boris came to succeed Theresa May.

    How long Boris would last as leader of the Conservative Party in either case is a matter of practical politics. Generally leaders who lose elections don’t last long. I suspect leaders who lose 21 of their own MP’s in their second week in power may not either.


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