Monday: Hili dialogue

It’s Monday, October 19, 2020, and I am weary from lack of sleep.  Due to a massive coincidence, this morning’s report features a lot of CATS. It’s National Seafood Bisque Day, as well as International Gin and Tonic Day, Rainforest Day, Dress Like a Dork Day, and Evaluate Your Life Day.

And before anything else, here’s the political ad of the decade! How can you NOT vote for Biden? Sound up and play the video. (h/t Lenora)

News of the Day: As if we don’t need more reasons to dump Trump, the New York Times has a long interactive editorial (!) called “The case against Donald Trump“. And within that are a lot of sub-editorials about his mishandling of women’s rights, racism, immigration, the economy, the environment, and so on ad infinitum. I shudder to think what will happen if he wins in November, but I’m pretty confident that won’t happen. I’m still taking bets; I’m betting on Biden, and tell the suckers that if he wins, they’ll be GLAD to pay me. If Trump wins, they get $$ as consolation (granted, money isn’t much consolation for another four years of America’s destruction).

There’s been a big change in the distribution of world happiness according to the annual Ipsos Global Happiness Survey: the happiest country in the world is now–wait for it–China. Others at the top are the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Canada, France, Australia, Great Britain, and Sweden. The unhappiest countries include Peru, Chile, Spain, Argentina, Hungary, and Mexico. (h/t Woody)

There are new details in the case of the decapitation by a terrorist of a French teacher who showed his students satirical cartoons of Muhammad as part of a free-speech lesson.  The details include the fact that the teacher offered to let Muslim students leave the classroom before the presentation, that the cartoons shown were from Charlie Hebdo, that the killer was an 18-year old Russian immigrant of Chechen descent, and that nine more people have been detained (the murderer was shot dead by police).

Up in Canada, here’s how Tim Horton’s is dealing with social distancing. Cute but confusing; what’s the diameter of a timbit? (Yes, I know what timbits are.) h/t Rick):

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 219,541, with 368 deaths yesterday. The world death toll is 1,118,831, an increase of about 3,700 over yesterday’s report.   

Stuff that happened on October 19 includes:

  • 1512 – Martin Luther becomes a doctor of theology.
  • 1781 – American Revolutionary War: The siege of Yorktown comes to an end.
  • 1789 – John Jay is sworn in as the first Chief Justice of the United States.
  • 1812 – The French invasion of Russia fails when Napoleon begins his retreat from Moscow.
  • 1900 – Max Planck discovers Planck’s law of black-body radiation.

Here’s the first page of Planck’s paper, published in Verhandlungen der Deutschen Physikalischen Gesellschaft.  Wikipedia is wrong that the law was discovered on October 19; it was published on October 19. Voilà: the beginning of quantum theory:

  • 1943 – Streptomycin, the first antibiotic remedy for tuberculosis, is isolated by researchers at Rutgers University.

Here we have another example of possible credit appropriation, with the lab head getting a Nobel Prize for work done by a student.

Streptomycin was first isolated on October 19, 1943, by Albert Schatz, a PhD student in the laboratory of Selman Abraham Waksman at Rutgers University in a research project funded by Merck and Co. Waksman and his laboratory staff discovered several antibiotics, including actinomycin, clavacin, streptothricin, streptomycin, grisein, neomycin, fradicin, candicidin, and candidin. Of these, streptomycin and neomycin found extensive application in the treatment of numerous infectious diseases. Streptomycin was the first antibiotic cure for tuberculosis (TB). In 1952 Waksman was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in recognition “for his discovery of streptomycin, the first antibiotic active against tuberculosis”. Waksman was later accused of playing down the role of Schatz who did the work under his supervision, claiming that Elizabeth Bugie had a more important role in its development.

Schatz was actually the first author of the paper describing the isolation of the antibiotic, but his boss got the Nobel Prize. Schatz later sued Waksman for a share of the royalties, and settled out of court.

  • 1950 – Korean War: The Battle of Pyongyang ends in a United Nations victory. Hours later, the Chinese Army begins crossing the border into Korea.
  • 1960 – The United States imposes a near-total trade embargo against Cuba.
  • 1973 – President Nixon rejects an Appeals Court decision that he turn over the Watergate tapes.
  • 1987 – Black Monday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average falls by 22%, 508 points.
  • 2003 – Mother Teresa is beatified by Pope John Paul II.
  • 2005 – Saddam Hussein goes on trial in Baghdad for crimes against humanity.

Here’s some video of the histrionics of the trial:

Notables born on this day include:

I once sat next to Wolpert at a dinner (the 30th anniversary of The Selfish Gene celebration), and found him a kind and lovely man. He talked about his experiences with depression, which resulted in his book about his own experiences, Malignant Sadness: The Anatomy of Depression. 

  • 1937 – Peter Max, German-American illustrator

Max is one of the quinetessential Sixties artists, and even designed this 1974 U.S. postage stamp (postage only 10¢ back then):

  • 1944 – Peter Tosh, Jamaican singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1987)
  • 1946 – Philip Pullman, English author and academic
  • 1967 – Amy Carter, American illustrator and activist

It’s hard to believe Amy, who I remember as a little girl in the White House, is 53 today. She’s kept a low profile after a period of political activism, and she illustrated this children’s book written by her father (did you know Jimmy wrote this?):

  • 1983 – Cara Santa Maria, American neuroscientist and blogger

Those who went underground on October 19 include:

  • 1745 – Jonathan Swift, Irish satirist and essayist (b. 1667
  • 1937 – Ernest Rutherford, New Zealand-English physicist and chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1871)
  • 1945 – N. C. Wyeth, American painter and illustrator (b. 1882)

N. C. Wyeth, Andrew’s father, was part of a family of artists. Here’s one of his illustrations for Treasure Island:

This is perhap’s Millay’s best-known verse.

My candle burns at both ends;
   It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
   It gives a lovely light!
She died of a heart attack at 58. Here she is at 22:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is being altruistic:

Hili: An apple has fallen from that apple tree.
A: You are sitting under a walnut tree.
Hili: Yes, but I realise the danger.
In Polish:
Hili: Jabłko spadło z tamtej jabłonki.
Ja: Siedzisz pod orzechem.
Hili: Tak. ale uświadamiam sobie rozmiar grozy.

Here’s Szaron on the inside and his friend “kitten” Kulka on the outside:

From Frans de Waal’s public page. ELECTION TIME!

From Cole and Marmalade:

From Barry: The election has pitted neighbor against neighbor!

A tweet from Barry. Could this be mistaken for modern music?

From Simon, who has an intro:

This is a nice little thread that an author put together to explain his paper (which happens to be on fly genetics and evolution). I think I’d have read the title and blown it off – but this is the sort of positive thing that social media can do.

Indeed! Have a look at the thread. The only question is whether Twitter users have the patience to scroll through 23 posts. Patience is minimal these days. . .

And the remaining tweets are from Matthew. Forget what the fox says; listen to the seals:

Yet another cat (I assure you this is coincidence). Sound up:

And some Pope memes, which Matthew sent me when I asked about this one:

30 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

    1. One of my favorite writers, even though his syntax addles my brains. He’s great. I hadn’t read him in a long time but by happenstance just the other day, I came across a chapter from Pseudodoxio Epidemica, “Of Credulity and Supinity.” Nothing new under the sun. He could well have been commenting on our times:

      “A third cause of common Errors is the Credulity of men, that is, an easie assent to what is obtruded, or a believing at first ear, what is delivered by others. This is a weakness in the understanding, without examination assenting unto things, which from their Natures and Causes do carry no perswasion; whereby men often swallow falsities for truths, dubiosities for certainties, feasibilities for possibilities, and things impossible as possibilities themselves. Which, though the weakness of the Intellect, and most discoverable in vulgar heads; yet hath it sometime fallen upon wiser brains, and great advancers of Truth. “

  1. Tangential to the cat on the piano, I recently wondered – do any other species react to music – flicking their tail, bobbing their head etc to a beat?

    I have a dim memory that maybe I’ve seen a YT of a parrot re. that, but that’s about all.

      1. Do you think that that comes spontaneously, though? Far more likely taught by their keepers, I’d imagine, but who knows?

        Videos of magpies or pigeons on the street, I’d be far more willing to accept.

    1. Yes, perhaps but that’s the exact same thought I had in 2016. In spite of all that has occurred in the intervening years I cannot yet allow myself to feel the warm glow of optimism.

      1. Yeah, I think lots of them have changed their minds. My doctor thinks I should have cancer since I smoked for so many years so he sends me in for Ct scans that keep disappointing him.

  2. Mixed feelings about streptomycin – while it was part of the mainstay triple therapy against TB, it also had a vogue as a single IM shot for kids with earache in the early sixties. Sadly, it is neurotoxic to the auditory nerve (just like gentamicin, amikacin and tobramycin today). As a result I have a completely dead left ear, and about 50% in the right. I manage fine, but I wish I knew what stereo sounded like!

  3. Could this [the cat on the keyboard of the spinet piano] be mistaken for modern music?

    I dunno, mebbe. Monk played some strange note combinations, too, on his avant-garde compositions like “Epistrophy”:

  4. Several news outlets have reported these comments that Trump made at a recent rally:

    President Trump mockingly warned at his rally in Nevada late Sunday that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden would “listen to the scientists” if elected and there would be more lockdowns to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

    Trump told attendees in Carson City that supporters of his opponent would surrender their “future to the virus,” saying: “He’s gonna want to lockdown.”

    “He’ll listen to the scientists,” Trump added in a mocking tone before saying, “If I listened totally to the scientists, we would right now have a country that would be in a massive depression instead — we’re like a rocket ship. Take a look at the numbers.”

    These remarks remind me of a book written in 1963 by Richard Hofstadter, whom I consider the most influential historian ever of American history. Entitled “Anti-intellectualism in American Life,” Wikipedia states:
    Hofstadter described anti-intellectualism as “resentment of the life of the mind, and those who are considered to represent it; and a disposition to constantly minimize the value of that life.”

    Also, he described the term as a view that “intellectuals…are pretentious, conceited… and snobbish; and very likely immoral, dangerous, and subversive … The plain sense of the common man is an altogether adequate substitute for, if not actually much superior to, formal knowledge and expertise.”

    So, even with the decline of religion, are we headed towards a new age of rationality and reason? It’s pie-in-the-sky to think this will happen in the near term (the next few decades) or probably ever.

    1. This is apparently a common “meme” in the Trumpiverse. Just the other day a visiting sales rep said to me that the upcoming election came down to one thing for him. Trump wants to keep the economy open and the other side wants to shut it down. This person also stated the Qanon lie that the CDC admitted that only about 5%-6% of the reported covid-19 deaths were actually from covid-19.

      These people have the bit between their teeth and nothing anyone on “our side” can say will cause them to let it go.

      1. Hofstadter wrote several highly influential books on American history as described in his Wikipedia entry. Unfortunately, he died at the young age of 54. When I was young and starting out in the history field, I read his “American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It.” The book is a series of profiles of leading American politicians, including Lincoln. Man, this book was an eye opener for me. It made me forever understand that the fairy tale version of American history, which I have frequently railed against, was not quite the way it was. As with his all his publications, the book is elegantly written – a joy to read. If I were forced to name the one book on American history that all people should read, this is it.

  5. I sent that video of the cat on the piano to The New Yorker’s Alex Ross with this as the header to my email: “Not sure what the inspiration is for this piece.”

    Ross’s response: “Middle-period Cecil Taylor, I think…”

  6. Man, that first sentence in Max Planck’s paper is a great example of convoluted German syntax. Do German students have to diagram sentences (like my mother, the English major, taught me)? Mark Twain would have a field day with this.

    1. There is a story about an impatient diplomat at the United Nations who was waiting for the English translation of a speech by an eminent German.
      “Why have you paused?”, asked the diplomat of his interpreter.
      “I am waiting for the verb” he replied.

      P.S. Love that Mark Twain story!

    2. It reminded me of a business letter my father got, which was three paragraphs covering an entire page. The author did not exactly use the German syntax but rather regressed sub-clauses into sub-clauses until he felt he reached the key point and chased the structure back to closure.

  7. Unhappiest countries: Peru, Chile, Spain, Argentina, Hungary, and Mexico. All but one is Spanish speaking. Coincidence? I think not. It’s clearly indigestion from hot peppers.

  8. On the topic of who actually does the Nobel Prize-winning work: when I was a graduate student under Amnon Yariv, Nico Bloembergen visited our lab and touched on this during his talk. He said (I’m paraphrasing), “Yes, my students actually did all the work for my prize [’81, for contributions to spectroscopy], but I don’t feel guilty, because I did all the work for Purcell’s prize [’52, for NMR].”

  9. “1900 – Max Planck discovers Planck’s law of black-body radiation.”

    How was it that it just happened to be Max Planck who discovered Planck’s law?! The odds are overwhelming against such a coincidence. Wow.

  10. If one is ” weary from lack of sleep, ”
    a suggestion for uninterrupted slumber =
    i) five to 20 minutes’ worth of meditation
    and ii) a weighted blanket ( @~10% in poundage
    of one’s actual weight ).

    ‘Tis UNinterrupted … … nine hours’ worth.


  11. More details on the French terrorist deaths is that two persons had issued a fatwah and that now French ministers want to close down two major islamist institutions that were involved in issuing and spreading it.

    Voilà: the beginning of quantum theory

    I usually don’t dabble in quantum physics “interpretation” efforts to modify it, but this recent non-modification recasting caught my interest:

    It took a century for someone to propose a better formulation of “shut up and calculate” (Copenhagen wavefunction collapse framing, if you wish), based on the results of non-local spin entanglement results.

    Like Einstein formulated relativity based on accepting Lorentz symmetry as a principle by noting it preserves the vacuum speed of light as the universal speed limit c, a paper showed that you can do the same to Born rule by noting it preserves the universal action limit h. The principle of non-preferred reference frames spits out the stochastic average result of applying Borns rule on a quantum state where the spin must be observed as integer, which in the case of entanglement preservation of total momentum is fulfilled on the individual level.

    In this sense, such results of seeming “wavefunction collapse” from other frames (here: new experiments showing a different spin vector direction) are no different a result than relativistic “time dilation” or “length contraction” as seen from other frames. Of course it is still “shut up and calculate” – nothing added to the quantum postulates – but the shift in perspective is satisfying to me.

    The paper concerns spin entanglement in matter particles but by extension it should explain spin polarization entanglement in light as well. I can speculate from the basis of establishing the Born rule, the reference frame interpretation covers the application of it.

    I can further note that if the finite universal speed limit gives us localized particles that can mediate signals between them, the non-zero universal action limit gives us finite extent particle systems (atoms, from having a finite finestructure constant for electromagnetic strength) instead of point like. So there may be some sort of analogy in play.

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