Thursday: Hili dialogue

Top of the morning to you on Thursday, August 27, 2020. Here I am, tired, dispirited with all the world’s troubles, and with nothing to say to the readers (yet). It’s National Burger Day. It’s also National Banana Lovers Day, National Pots de Crème Day, National Petroleum Day, World Rock Paper Scissors Day, and, in Texas, Lyndon Baines Johnson Day, celebrating LBJ’s birthday in 1908.

To celebrate two holidays at once, here’s LBJ and Lady Bird, both eating burgers. Note the prices on the sign:

News of the Day: Hurricane Laura, perhaps the most powerful hurricane to strike the U.S. in recorded history, has made landfall on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana. It’s been called “unsurvivable,” an adjective I’ve never before heard applied to a storm, and the storm surge could drive water 30-40 miles inland. Winds could be up to 150 mph. This is going to be a very bad one. Here’s a satellite image from the NYT:

(From NYT): A satellite image showing Hurricane Laura approaching Louisiana and Texas on Wednesday night.Credit…Rammb/Noaa, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Yesterday’s poll on what should happen to Professor Joel Poor, a Mizzou prof who remarked on a virtual teaching session that he should put on his mask when he learned that one of his students on Zoom was from Wuhan, gave the following results:

The readers here are clearly not part of Cancel Culture!

Speaking of Cancel Culture, here’s a new Bill Maher segment on it.  After watching it, I decided that every statue of Jesus, an approver of slavery, should be taken down immediately. Why has Jesus not been canceled?

The New York Times has a comprehensive report on coronavirus cases at over 750 colleges and universities. Here are the top five, all in the South and three in Alabama. (Nine of the top ten are also in the South.) By comparison, the University of Chicago has had 44 cases.

More stupidity (actually, malfeasance) from the Trump administration about the pandemic. The administration apparently ordered the CDC to ease its guidelines for testing, removing recommendation that people get tested even if they are asymptomatic and have been recently exposed to the coronavirus. Anthony Fauci was not consulted, as he was under general anesthesia at the time, having a polyp removed from his vocal cords; he is of course concerned about the new guidelines, which have to be bad for contact tracing

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 179,598, an increase of about 1100 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 824,963, an increase of about 6,100 deaths from yesterday. We’ll hit 200,000 deaths in the U.S. and 1,000,000 in the world before too long. 

Stuff that happened on August 27 includes:

And here’s that well:

Edwin Drake, right, stands with friend Peter Wilson of Titusville, Pennsylvania, at the drilling site – but not the original cable-tool derrick – of America’s first oil well. Photo courtesy Drake Well Museum.
  • 1883 – Eruption of Krakatoa: Four enormous explosions destroy the island of Krakatoa and cause years of climate change.

From Wikipedia: T”he 1883 Krakatoa eruption darkened the sky worldwide for years afterwards and produced spectacular sunsets throughout the world for many months. British artist William Ashcroft made thousands of colour sketches of the red sunsets halfway around the world from Krakatoa in the years after the eruption.”  Here are three of Ashcroft’s sketches showing sunsets in London:


  • 1896 – Anglo-Zanzibar War: The shortest war in world history (09:02 to 09:40), between the United Kingdom and Zanzibar.
  • 1927 – Five Canadian women file a petition to the Supreme Court of Canada, asking, “Does the word ‘Persons’ in Section 24 of the British North America Act, 1867, include female persons?”
  • 1956 – The nuclear power station at Calder Hall in the United Kingdom was connected to the national power grid becoming the world’s first commercial nuclear power station to generate electricity on an industrial scale.
  • 1979 – The Troubles: Eighteen British soldiers are killed in an ambush by the Provisional Irish Republican Army near Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland, in the deadliest attack on British forces during Operation Banner. An IRA bomb also kills British royal family member Lord Mountbatten and three others on his boat at Mullaghmore, Republic of Ireland.
  • 2011 – Hurricane Irene strikes the United States east coast, killing 47 and causing an estimated $15.6 billion in damage.

That was nothing compared to what is going to happen in the next week.

Notables born on this day include:

Dawes was the only Vice President, much less a Nobel Laureate, to write the melody for a song that became a pop hit. Do you know it? Think, and then go here.  You can thank me later for this arcane fact, which will surely help you win trivia contests.

  • 1871 – Theodore Dreiser, American novelist and journalist (d. 1945)
  • 1906 – Ed Gein, American murderer and body snatcher, The Butcher of Plainfield (d. 1982)
  • 1909 – Lester Young, American saxophonist and clarinet player (d. 1959)

Young is one of my favorite jazz musicians, and here’s a rare video, which was posted just this year, of him and his Quintet playing “How About You” in 1950. Personnel include Young on sax, Buddy Rich on drums, Ray Brown on bass, Hank Jones on piano, and Bill Harris on trombone.

  • 1939 – William Least Heat-Moon, American travel writer and historian
  • 1947 – Barbara Bach, American model and actress
  • 1973 – Danny Coyne, Welsh footballer

I don’t know who Danny Coyne is, but he may be a distant relative. . . .

Those who kicked it on August 27 include:

  • 1931 – Frank Harris, Irish-American journalist and author (b. 1856)
  • 1958 – Ernest Lawrence, American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1901)
  • 1963 – W. E. B. Du Bois, American sociologist, historian, and activist (b. 1868)
  • 1971 – Margaret Bourke-White, American photographer and journalist (b. 1906)

One of my favorite photographers, Bourke-White took this iconic picture of Gandhi:

Indian leader Mohandas Gandhi reading next to a spinning wheel at home. (Photo by Margaret Bourke-White/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)
  • 1975 – Haile Selassie, Ethiopian emperor (b. 1892)
  • 1979 – Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, English admiral and politician, 44th Governor-General of India (b. 1900)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has a hypocritical bout of empathy:

A: What are you looking at?
Hili: At the birds, they are so cruel to the tiny flies.
In Polish:
Ja: Na co patrzysz?
Hili: Na ptaki, które są tak okrutne wobec tych małych muszek.

A wag comments on a road sign, from Jesus of the Day:

Truth from reader Divy:

From Jesus of the Day. I hope this is real. See here for similar embarrassing photos.

A tweet from Andrée, which is verified by Wikipedia in its entry on “office chair“:

One of the earliest known innovators to have created the modern office chair was naturalist Charles Darwin, who put wheels on the chair in his study so he could get to his specimens more quickly.

And here’s a picture of the Great Man’s wheeled chair. DARWIN SAT THERE!

Two tweets from Simon. First, one chill cat surrounded by potential food, which he declines:

That same site likes to use metaphors about science from funny videos. This one is bizarre:

Tweets from Matthew. Somebody please tell me what this cat is doing. I suspect it is unsavory.

Matthew’s words on the tweet below: “There’s a lot of ‘culture war’ over here about the legacy of the British Empire, the meaning/aceptability of ‘Rule Britannia’ etc. I’ll just leave this tweet.”  I had no idea about the Tasmanian genocide.

This is a freaking amazing nature video:

I wish I could have this experience:

Now how did they figure this one out?

55 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

    1. Yes, at the end of my lecture on Darwin, the Beagle, and the Fuegans in Antarctica, I discuss the extermination of the people. The gauchos were even paid a bountyof one pound for each Fuegan shot, and there are pictures of “Fuegan hunting parties.” There’s said to be only one full-blooded Fuegan left, an older woman.

  1. For the record: official meteorology’s measurement
    of the .inland. hurricane = the derecho = that,
    of ~100 miles in w i d t h, slammed upon
    Monday, 10 August 2020, across the
    mid – section of Iowa ? Official measurement
    in counties’ worth of that swath ?

    144 miles per hour.

    Within some locales, ~45 minutes’ notification.
    Elsewhere ? … … squat for warning. My child
    had schoolchildren outside in a nature setting. Johnson County.
    They all laid low. As in prone. All the way down.
    No injuries. His own family = bodies okay.


    1. I recall a wind event a few years back in your part of Iowa, not quite as bad as this one but similar. Maybe 90 to 100 mph. Also around the same time of year. Much of the corn this time was just flat so there is nothing to be done with that.

      This hurricane last night and today was more a wind event and pretty fast moving so not nearly as bad as it could have been.

      1. I lost, sadly, to now a mere stump
        my 24 – year, 14 pies’ worth per year – bearing
        Chickabooma Tart Cherry Tree. Upon her way down,
        she struck nothing but the grass below.
        She is now a decent fire pit’s worth of wood
        … … drying out. A good death for her.

        What I did not lose: Seconds, literally,
        before the derecho struck all of Ames
        I moved my Passat to within its garage.
        And off of my driveway … … onto which
        at precisely where the vehicle had just been ?
        Beaucoup limbs off of the neighbors’
        multiple trees post – ( straight and
        not tornadic rotational ) windstorm.

        One City’s easement tree limb, which totaled
        my television’s digital antenna, is still
        badly twisted up upon itself threatening
        several of my front windows. Of course,
        the City’s public works folks know. They,
        though, are just swamped elsewhere … …
        still. Another windstorm cometh, however,
        and that limb may become altogether loosed.
        Then, worse.

        Kin and I were fortunate. Contrastingly … …
        to so, so very many others.


        1. Sorry for the loss of that tree.

          But it will be interesting to learn whether the cherry wood smoke will have a sort of nice aroma, as apple tree wood does, for me at least.

          1. Thank you, Dr Hoffman, for the consolation.
            Mz Chickabooma was, indeed, quite the provider.
            I am the first to state that I am no cook;
            but All ‘ld outright expect that thereupon
            any potlucks’ spread, ” Blue ‘ll be bringing
            her cherry pies to it, won’t she ? ”

            And, too as you point out, I am of the
            thinking that her wood will, indeed,
            continue to furnish a loveliness within
            its burnt fragrance.


  2. I’m not sure about the covid totals in your chart. The University of Alabama currently lists 560 something cases in the whole system. The bulk of those are at Tuscaloosa. Only 6 are listed at UAB. So I think the NYT may be incorrect. (A friend has a daughter at Tuscaloosa, so I’ve been vaguely keeping track – they had apparently set aside a 400 bed dorm for cases before school started and it was filled in less than a week).

    1. The different sources never exactly agree, though usually only about 1% differences.

      As I rattled on about in other threads, 200,000 reported deaths will probable end up with an additional 30% or so actual ‘deaths which would not have occurred if there were no covid’, once the stats for actual deaths versus statistically expected deaths are closer to final.

      So, it’s over ¼ million in about 2 weeks from now. It will likely be a reported ¼ million right around the election date.

  3. BTW

    I listened to Matthew Cobb’s talk on The Idea of the Brain during a bout of insomnia last night – kept me up! Lots of interesting stuff!

  4. I guess with Jefferson creating the swivel chair, he and Darwin are the creators of the modern desk chair.

    Technically, since Australia was self-governing in 1903, Australia and not Britain executed the genocide of the Tasmanians.

  5. This being Lyndon Baines Johnson Day and also the day Hurricane Laura hit the Gulf coast, I’m reminded of LBJ’s response when Hurricane Betsy slammed into the Louisiana coast in 1965. He was on-sight within hours, spending the night among the survivors, wading through the water, holding a flashlight to his face, telling them not to worry, “Your president is here.”

    This was the performance against which Dubya’s inaction on Katrina was measured and found to be so wanting.

    1. No way of telling when they took that picture of LBJ and Lady Bird but my guess would be mid to early 60s. The price of $.35 for a delux hamburger seems about this time. I remember 15 cent hamburgers at MacDonalds but that was not delux, in the early 60s.

  6. Cat Kevin is merely kicking the tennis ball with his hind feet. On carpeting, he would have done fine. (My cats have done this, on both surfaces.)

    1. Agree that the cat is kicking the ball–several of mine have done that. When they are on carpeting it is easy to see what is going on since they don’t scoot across the slick floor.

  7. Surely the ‘number coincidence’ must be ‘simply’ because 998,001 is the square of 1000 minus 1.

    Rather than me, it’s preferable that some actual genius work it out from there.

    1. If no actual genius will lower to do this, I’d try 10-1, and then 100-1, before 1000-1, and try to see what’s going on. You need to know what a decimal really means,

      for example, .537 really means
      5/10 + 3/100 + 7/1000, but sorry if I’m being patronizing.

      1. “Surely the ‘number coincidence’ must be ‘simply’ because 998,001 is the square of 1000 minus 1.”

        Interesting suggestion but I don’t follow

        (1000^2 )- 1 = 999,999

        998,001…? I have to look at this again…

        1. Trigger warning: too much hint maybe.

          Yes, and actually a non-genius (that’s a person like me needing to be trained in math, or whatever) ends up doing this with something called Taylor’s series (remember from freshman calculus).

          So the 10-1 case is manipulated to ‘series-ossify’ it as

          10**(-2) times (1 – 1/10)**(-2),

          the right-hand part being the one to expand as an infinite series. That gives the (infinite, but a rational number) decimal.

          The 100 -1 and the 1000-1 are really no harder (and of course it surely will work for 1000-1 too, giving all the initial
          ‘no-more-than-4-digit numbers’ to begin the decimal; etc.

          The 10-1 might have been a pure coincidence, but something like that for 1000-1 just has to have some systematic explanation.

            1. I’ll put notes here as I go – as I am coffee-less, I am thinking in coffee-less ways :

              1 / 998001998001 also shows the pattern.

              1. Enough of this – listen and watch James Grimes lay it down – from 8 years ago! – on Numberphile :

                The explanation is satisfying- thanks to PCC(E) posting this again (in the future) and Alan Clark recalling this was on Numberphile.

              2. I’m quite elated by this. The basic formula that explains this, as distilled from the video:

                If |x| < 1

                1 + 1x**2 + 2x**3 + 3x**4 … n x**(n +1)


                1 / (1-x)**2

                To see it work out :
                Let x = 1/10
                Stack up the results :
                0.0000008 <——this 8 disappears because
                0.00000009 <———carry over of
                0.000000010 100/81 = 100/9**2

                … ok at this point it’s better to just watch the video – to see how to get the original result.

              3. It’s not surprising that this has been around.

                I was thinking of a slightly different type of thing I think, more general with the “k” below but less general with no “x”. I’ll write a series that would apply simultaneously to all the cases 10-1, 100-1, 1000-1, etc.
                So I need to express ((10**k)-1)**(-2) for every k = 1, or 2, or 3, etc. as a series.

                The series is just (with unneeded 1st term just for symmetry of course)

                0/(10**1k) + 1/(10**2k) + 2/(10**3k) + 3/(10**4k) + etc.

                (Lots of brackets with this awkward stuff so I won’t be ambiguous which I crossed you up with briefly earlier!)

                1st term gives next ‘k-1’ zeroes then 1
                3rd term gives next ‘k-1’ zeroes then 2
                4th term gives next ‘k-1’ zeroes then 3, etc. for only awhile;

                The explanation for the “only awhile” is that with these blocks of successive “k” decimals, once you get to numbers in the numeral whose actual expression in base 10 has more than “k” digits, that numeral will not be the correct decimal. Just do the case k=1, by long dividing 81 into 1 to see what goes on there.

                Surely one could generalize this to any base, though base 2 might be too ‘tight’ to give much of interest.

              4. Inadvertent erasure produced an error.

                So “1st term gives next ‘k-1’ zeroes then 1”

                should instead be

                ‘1st term gives ‘k’ zeroes

                2nd term gives next ‘k-1’ zeroes then 1’

              5. ” …thanks to … Alan Clark recalling this was on Numberphile.”

                The first talk I ever gave was by an ‘Allan Clark’ (2 l’s not 1 l). He’d be about 80 now, was a prof at Brown U. Probably not the same one. Did his Ph. D. at Princeton, but I never met him way back, nor since. Be peculiar if it were the same guy.

              6. Your math genealogy page gives my guy, the one whose brief elegant Annals of Mathematics paper from early 1960s I had to digest and present in front of pretty high level British mathematicians about 6 months after being an undergrad. J.F. Adams was tough on all his students, but turned out to be an ideal supervisor for me, once he was convinced I wasn’t completely hopeless.

                I fear Allan Clark may have died by now, since he’s not listed as a Brown U Emeritus prof as far as I can see.

                We should maybe be doing this by private email. I’m easy to find at

  8. The Sand Wasp probably would not need such long legs except for the maneuver shown. Straddling the worm to get it into the hole.

        1. Yeah, but we are hard wired to learn and innovate rather than follow a strict routine like a digger wasp. If you interrupt a digger wasp at any point in its routine, it goes back to step one and starts over.

          1. But is it for us, as thought by Alan Turing and most other theoretical computer scientists, a strict routine for learning and innovating? Or more as Roger Penrose thinks?

            Is it a strict routine that makes me think it’s a strict routine?

          2. Interesting! A lot of wasps are however quite good at learning – sure I tweeted an article on that recently. I ought to keep track as I always do this – forget & have to re-research! Dom the dim… much like a digger wasp. We are surely just big wasps with more possible neural pathways…?

  9. Discovered by complete chance when visiting friends yrs ago, Dawes lived in a pretty cool baronial mansion just N of Chicago in Evanston until his death in 1951, and that is open for tours.

    Also, his original 1912 composition was titled Melody in A Major.

Comments are closed.