Friday: Hili dialogue

March 19, 2021 • 6:30 am

We’re at week’s end, as it’s Friday, March 19, 2021: National Oatmeal Cookie Day (my most unfaorite cookie, but still better than no cookie at all).  It’s also National Chocolate Caramel Day, National Poultry Day, Certified Nurses Day, and Let’s Laugh Day. In honor of the last one, here’s a joke.

Sam gets a telephone call from a doctor. The doctor says: “About this medical test I did on you: I have some good news and some bad news.”

Sam asks for the good news first.

“The good news is that you have 24 hours to live,” says the doctor.

Horrified, Sam asked: “If that is the good news, then what is the bad news??”

“I couldn’t reach you yesterday.”

I’ll be here all year, folks.

Wine of the Day: I’m on a week of meatless meals, and today had a dinner of black beans and rice mixed with a little thick Greek yogurt for creaminess. WIth a simple meal like that you want a fruity white wine, and a good Riesling fills the bill.

Of the five grades of quality Riesling, Kabinett is the driest, though this one tasted a bit sweeter, almost like the next sweetest wine: a Spätlese. But that’s fine, as people don’t appreciate that a slightly sweet wine can be a great companion to food. It depends on the food, of course. I’ve found that foie gras and Sauternes (an exceedingly sweet wine) are a great pairing, and the French realized this long ago, so often proffer a glass of sauternes when you get foie gras with toasted baguette.

This wine was excellent: low in alcohol (about 9%), with a light straw color, an apple-y flavor, and a short but good finish. German wine labels put some people off but they’re easy. The maker, Dönhoff, is at the top, then the village (Niederhäuser), then the vineyard (Klamm), and then the grape and the grade of the wine (Riesling Kabinett: riesling, of course, and the driest grade). Elsewhere on the bottle it says this wine is from the winemaking region calIed Nahe.

I think it’s the label “confusion” that puts a lot of people off a very good and often very affordable wine. Drink more Riesling!

News of the Day:

Some good news: the House of Representatives passed two gun bills this week that will strengthen the rules on background checks for purchasing firearms. Although 80% of Americans support these measures, the Senate is unlikely to pass them given the filibuster rules and Republican opposition.

Robert Aaron Long, who killed eight people, six of them Asians, is being touted widely as an example of a xenophobe motivated by hatred of Asians. This is not yet clear, as the suspect himself denied it, and it may be sex-related. Long was a customer at both spas, and these businesses often provide sex on the side. He had also spent time in rehab for “sex addiction”, and, as a religious person, battled with his own impulses and his church’s prohibition of extramarital sex.

Others aren’t so quick draw conclusions about racism:

On NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, said that “while the motive remains still under investigation at the moment, it does not appear that the motive was racially motivated. But I really would defer to the state and local investigation on that for now.”

The rush to judgment (HuffPo is determined to judge this a racist act—even if the shooter simply preferred to have sex with Asian women, still considered a form of racism— when we have no information, makes me feel that people want this to be a hate crime, and I don’t really understand that. The killing is already reprehensible, and should be deplored, but we should hold off on ascribing motivations until the investigation is complete. There’s no doubt, however, that genuine hate crimes committed on Asians are rising.

Absolutely Predictable Department: The mayor of Lyon, France, a city where I’ve spent some time feeding on the city’s meaty and copious cuisine, announced that school lunches for 29,000 elementary-school students would no longer include meat. Well, the reaction was guaranteed:

Not so, thundered Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister. He tweeted that dropping meat was an “unacceptable insult to French farmers and butchers” that betrays “an elitist and moralist” attitude. Julien Denormandie, the agriculture minister, called the mayor’s embrace of the meatless lunch “shameful from a social point of view” and “aberrational from a nutritional point of view.”

I’m not that upset, as the kids will get plenty of meat elsewhere. But the fracas is funny.

Remember the hilarious “Soup Nazi” episode of Seinfeld? I didn’t watch it often, but that was good. Well, it’s not good any more: a restaurant run by a Chinese-American in Everett, Washington, named “The Soup Nazi Kitchen” was vandalized so often because of the name that the owner renamed it. Was it so wrong to call a guy the “soup Nazi”? I’m a (cultural) Jew, and it doesn’t bother me. (h/t: Neil).

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. 539,128 is, an increase of 1,549 deaths over yesterday’s figure.  The reported world death toll stands at 2,704,440, an increase of about about 10,500 deaths over yesterday’s total. 

Stuff that happened on March 19 includes:

  • 1284 – The Statute of Rhuddlan incorporates the Principality of Wales into England.
  • 1649 – The House of Commons of England passes an act abolishing the House of Lords, declaring it “useless and dangerous to the people of England”.
  • 1895 – Auguste and Louis Lumière record their first footage using their newly patented cinematograph.

Here is some of that footage:

He was drunk, and had to shoot himself in the head three times to finish the job (he completely missed the first time). Nitti was about to face a grand jury indictment for extortion. Here’s a headline from the time.

  • 1945 – World War II: Adolf Hitler issues his “Nero Decree” ordering all industries, military installations, shops, transportation facilities, and communications facilities in Germany to be destroyed.
  • 1979 – The United States House of Representatives begins broadcasting its day-to-day business via the cable television network C-SPAN.
  • 1982 – Falklands War: Argentinian forces land on South Georgia Island, precipitating war with the United Kingdom.
  • 2008 – GRB 080319B: A cosmic burst that is the farthest object visible to the naked eye is briefly observed.

Here’s a double image of the burst, with X-ray visualization on the left and a UV image on the right. The burst was visible for about 30 seconds, and it was about 2.9 million light years away.

This is one of two subspecies of the white rhino (Ceratotherium simum ). Here’s a photo of one of them while it still lived:

Notables born on this day include:

Livingstone died in Africa at 60 of malaria and dysentery. Here’s a photo from 1864:

  • 1848 – Wyatt Earp, American police officer (d. 1929)
  • 1891 – Earl Warren, American lieutenant, jurist, and politician, 14th Chief Justice of the United States (d. 1974)
  • 1894 – Moms Mabley, American comedian and singer (d. 1975)
  • 1905 – Albert Speer, German architect and politician (d. 1981)
  • 1906 – Adolf Eichmann, German SS officer (d. 1962)
  • 1933 – Philip Roth, American novelist (d. 2018)

Here’s a snippet of a BBC interview from 2009 in which Roth discusses his life and work:

  • 1952 – Harvey Weinstein, American director and producer
  • 1955 – Bruce Willis, German-American actor and producer

Those whose metabolism ground to a halt on March 19 include:

  • 1930 – Arthur Balfour, Scottish-English politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1848)
  • 1950 – Edgar Rice Burroughs, American soldier and author (b. 1875)
  • 1950 – Norman Haworth, English chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1883)
  • 1984 – Garry Winogrand, American photographer (b. 1928)

Winograd was a great street photographer. Here’s an untitled specimen of his work from the 1970s:

  • 1987 – Louis de Broglie, French physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1892)
  • 1997 – Willem de Kooning, Dutch-American painter and educator (b. 1904)
  • 2005 – John DeLorean, American engineer and businessman, founded the DeLorean Motor Company (b. 1925)

DeLorean was a car designer, and of course his most famous car was the DMC DeLorean with gull-wing doors. It was not a success.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn,

Szaron: I have a feeling that she is ignoring me.
Hili: I think I will have to accept him.
In Polish:
Szaron: Mam wrażenie, że ona mnie ignoruje.
Hili: Chyba trzeba go będzie zaakceptować.

And here’s Szaron catching forty winks:

From Divy:

From Facebook:

From Bruce:

From Barry. There’s nothing more alert than an alert cat!

Another video turned into an academic meme by Oded Rechavi. This was sent by Simon, who is guilty of tweeting about his new paper just this week!

Reader Ken has a long explanation for this tweet:

Eugene Vindman, whose career was torpedoed by Donald Trump for no reason other than that his twin brother, purple-heart recipient Alexander, gave truthful testimony, under subpoena, to the House Intelligence Committee regarding Trump’s perfect “do-me-a-favor-though” phone call with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky, has finally received his well-deserved promotion to full-bird colonel:

Tweets from Matthew. Nope, not a walking stick; in fact, it’s in a different order of insects altogether. There’s a hint, but first look at the picture and guess.

This is a lovely video. I presume the fish in that compartment are bait fish.

Another attentive cat video:

Turn the sound up! This is a possum sea shanty!

I agree with the caption. I ain’t getting into one of those cars.

78 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. As seen on Twitter:

    A Priest, an Imam and a rabbit walk into a blood-donor center.

    “What blood type are you?”, asks a nurse?

    “I think I’m a Type O” answers the rabbit.

  2. A wonderful bird is the Pelican.
    His beak can hold more than his belly can.
    He can hold in his beak
    Enough food for a week!
    But I’ll be darned if I know how the hellican ~~ Dixon Lanier Merritt

    As for the Tesla FSD video, somebody has taken a 13 minute long video and condensed it down to the bad bits. The full video is here. I’m both quite impressed and somewhat horrified at the same time. I’m impressed that it is as good as it is but horrified that it has been released as a “beta” (it isn’t really beta level) to members of the general public.

    1. It’s good at driving in straight lines and occasionally changing lanes. Everything else is very unsafe – sudden stops, cutting off other drivers, hesitating and confusing other drivers, frequently giving up and turn control over to the driver, … It’s pretty bad. This is personal experience base on my new Model 3 which gives me a three month free trial of FSD.

      1. That’s why I’m horrified. They’re calling it a beta but it really isn’t.

        And some idiot isn’t going to be paying attention and they will kill somebody.

        IMO taking money for this feature is fraudulent.

  3. I had a conversation about self-driving cars a couple years ago with a colleague while we were in Palo Alto. I said that I didn’t see where the push for this was coming from. He said it was companies in Palo Alto and around the Bay that saw employees spending 2-3 hours a day in unproductive commutes. If they could work while getting to the office, that would be a good thing. Struck me then as a niche idea unlikely to get broad acceptance, and now that Covid has changed the attitude (permanently?) to remote work, it seems less likely than ever. My general attitude, as a twenty-year veteran of the software industry, is that poor code and bad QA make the risk too great (and never take a ride the day after patch day).

    1. Any journey where the point is to transport goods, rather than convey a person, would be much cheaper if you didn’t need to pay a driver.

      1. As a truck driver once said “I will believe in robot trucks when I see a robot changing a flat tire on the side of the road

    2. I live on a narrow and ill-maintained country road. A few of the many typical questions that a safe self-driving car should answer:
      1) Which way is that stray sheep on the verge facing? (Disturbed sheep almost always move forward.)
      2) Is that dog on a lead or not?
      3) Does that puddle conceal a deep tyre-wrecking pothole?
      4) Is it safe to take to the verge to allow that approaching car to pass?
      I shall not be early in the queue for a self-driving car.

      1. Perhaps I should have been more explicit: my point was that human drivers are more adaptable, and so better able to adjust to unusual circumstances.

        1. Well, certainly their strengths differ. Automation has the obvious advantages that it never gets bored, it’s “willing” to do things that humans don’t like or have difficulty doing, it has faster reaction time, and it’s “foot” never slips off the pedals. Ideally, automation and human should make a good team. I suspect that a period of adjustment is needed for that to happen. Right now it is a problem getting a human to take over from automation when one of those situations arises where human “adaptation” would be helpful. I’m a big fan of those TV shows that analyze airplane crashes. This human/automation adjustment has been going on for decades and continues on.

    3. Waymo has the right vision when it comes to self-driving. They envision it as an aid to those who are unable to drive – elderly, people with disabilities, children, etc. I am personally looking forward to it.

      That said, Tesla is 99% hype. It is nowhere close to being self-driving. I’ve had a Model 3 for about 3 months now, and that video looked familiar. It is quite unsafe at the moment. About the only thing that works well is freeway driving – it manages to stay in its lane and moves with traffic, and changes lanes safely (most of the time).

      1. I notice that Tesla itself cautions drivers to still keep their hands on the wheel. I’d say that hence it is not 99% hype, since they admit the system still has quite a few limitations.

        1. It’s a bit like saying the Wright Brothers’ first powered flight was “99% hype”. Everything has to start somewhere.

          1. … Waymo self driving is probably more advanced, though they are far more cautious about the claims they make. IMHO, that’s the safe (and correct) approach.

        2. They actually do not put it that way at all.

          Musk has been hyping this feature for a long time. He even claimed that by 2020, Tesla FSD would take a car from coast-to-coast without human intervention. And if you look at their stock, the valuation is primarily based on FSD and the “robotaxi” service it could provide. They actually lose money on the cars. Musk is now moving the goal post and claiming that FSD (level 5) will be available by end of 2021. I assume he means 2031.

          I agree with Jeremey Pereira (above) who said that charging $10K for FSD is fraudulent.

          Also as a user, and creator of tech products, I am not used to the term “Beta” being used so loosely. I remember what Gmail beta looked like – it was pretty much flawless. Waymo self-driving is

          1. I don’t think FSD’s capabilities at the present are being oversold. There are plenty of online videos that display its capabilities and flaws. Certainly customers can find out what they’re getting before paying $10k. Musk promises it will be better in the future and such things always take longer to happen than their makers hope. That is the nature of things. Show me someone who would take Musk’s predictions as 100% reliable and I will show you a fool. Even Musk will warn against that.

            As far as the price is concerned, the right price is always one where many consumers think it is too high. I suspect that they have put the price high because they don’t want to make money directly from it at the moment. If the price were lower, they would have more people signing on and it’s not ready for that. They want customers who are going to take it seriously.

            Automated driving is a complex thing that touches more than just technology but insurance, law enforcement, traffic, social issues. It is a good idea to introduce it gradually in order to work out the kinks.

            1. And not least the basic legal issue of who to blame when something (inevitably) goes wrong: the vehicle owner, the manufacturer, the software developer….

              1. Absolutely. A lot of societal things need to change to accommodate automated driving. I suspect Tesla realizes this and is trying to push things slowly because these adjustments take time. It’s not just that the capabilities of the software need improvement.

  4. I know a lot of people who hate the much-maligned oatmeal raisin cookie, and most of the time I agree. But this recipe always gets me accolades: http://shariblogs.com/cinnamon-oatmeal-raisin-cookies/

    I usually substitute cinnamon chips with chocolate (cinnamon seems to be a seasonal thing) and you must adhere to the lower temperature and the longer baking time.

    Not trying to foist this on those who are anti-ORC to begin with, but if anyone has been looking for a tried and true recipe, I recommend the above.

    1. I was going to say…
      I know am supposed to diss the OMC, but my middle son, who loves to bake, makes them with chocolate chips and he has it down to an art. These are excellent, and they go fast.

    2. This comment is supposed to be in response to @Rachel. When I first posted it, it appeared as a stand alone reply, so am reposting, hoping it’ll fall in place this time.

      A big problem for me is that ORCs superficially resemble chocolate chip cookies and since chocolate chip cookies are my gustatory default when eyeing similar cookies, I must make a quick recalculation that goes from “Yum!” to “Huh?” Are those raisins or chocolate chips? How dry is it going to be?” and so forth. A complete sensory re-evaluation accompanies the identification, which kills much of the pleasure that I might experience (note the modal) if they were immediately identifiable (and not dry as cardboard).

      1. Considering how many food issues people have, I think it’s incumbent upon the baker to inform the eater about the contents of the cookie.

    3. The raisin oatmeal cookie, if well made, is one of the great achievements of our Western Civilisation.
      They can be absolutely delicious.
      I beg to differ with our host here.

        1. I’m guessing that’s a reference to our host’s comment “National Lacy Oatmeal Cookie Day (?)” in yesterday’s Hili?

      1. While we’re defending the oatmeal raisin cookie, I feel like I should put in a good word for baked oatmeal here. The best way to eat oatmeal, and it doesn’t have to involve raisins. (Though I like mine with golden raisins and chopped pecans or walnuts.)

    4. I just mixed up a batch of these cookies, but used butterscotch chips and also added chopped pecans. The mixture was dry, so I added about 2 tbsp. water. They’re in the oven now.
      Now the first sheet is done, they’re delicious!

  5. The mass killer in Georgia is probably a hate crime but it makes little difference in outcome. He will go to prison and never come out. There is no doubt about the cracker Georgia police spokesman who attempted to explain the killers motive and said he was just having a bad day. Yes, just a bad day, he’ll be fine tomorrow.

    1. I will opine that is is certainly a hate crime, with the target group being sex workers.

      I withhold conjecture about race, as I don’t have, and may never have, enough information, to have an opinion.

      The correlation between marginalized groups (economic and racial/ethnic) and sex work, as well as the perpetrators beliefs and prior behaviours, may make separating motives impractical, and, as you say, makes little difference in the end point for him.

    2. The confessed killer, 21 y.o. Aaron Long, is an indoctrinated Southern Baptist 4 years out of high school. It seems his father, who may be at least a part-time pastor, threw his son out of the house the morning before the killings. The guy immediately bought a 9mm handgun [you can do that in Georgia] and started shooting people, mainly women, at 3 spas. Two of the nine victims were men (one died) and another a non-Asian woman. Since no eyewitnesses have been brought forward, I suspect that the victims were not picked by sex or race, but rather the people who Long first saw when he walked in the door. My take is that the guy lost it and blamed spas and porn for his own problems and moral failures, i.e., I generally agree with WEIT.

  6. My dodgy contribution to Let’s Laugh Day:

    Q: How do you know if your cat’s eaten a duck?
    A: He’s got that down in the mouth look.

    Apologies in advance!

    1. Or perhaps:

      Q: Why did the cat eat a plate of cheese?
      A: So he could wait by the mouse hole with baited breath.

  7. An apparently true mathematician story/joke which somehow I just heard (or maybe just was reminded of—hope not!) :

    The famous Hilbert got a rip in the upper back of his pants, and kept showing up that way, day after day, at his Gottingen institute. Colleagues at every level were very reticent to point this out, so delegated that job to later famous but very junior Richard Courant. He thought he was very clever with a plan. They went for the frequent walk, to ostensibly talk research. But the new route took them through some brambles. Just after that,

    Courant says: “Professor, sorry, but you’ve torn the ass of your pants in the brambles.”

    Hilbert replies: “No, they’ve been like that for weeks, but nobody ever notices.”

    (It does help to have some experience of the sartorial behaviour of typical researchers in Pure Math.)

    1. That’s a great story, Peter! According to Wikipedia (I know…),

      When Galileo Galilei was criticized for failing to stand up for his convictions on the Heliocentric theory, Hilbert objected: “But [Galileo] was not an idiot. Only an idiot could believe that scientific truth needs martyrdom; that may be necessary in religion, but scientific results prove themselves in due time.”

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hilbert#Personal_life

      1. Most famous perhaps is the Hilbert remark re Emmy Noether, when the anti-womenites were keeping her from any reasonable position at Gottingen, despite Hilbert’s strong support. In Senate, he said something like:

        ‘After all, this is a university, not a bathhouse.’

        After Hilbert himself, Emmy Noether is probably the most eminent creator of the subject called modern abstract algebra, esp. rings and modules.

        But there is also Noether’s Theorem in fundamental physics, showing the intimate relation between symmetries and conservation laws (e.g. time versus energy, translation versus momentum, rotation versus angular momentum), but unknown I know to at least a few high level ring theorists.

        Frank Wilczek, the famous Nobelist for being one of a few who created the Standard Model of Particle Physics, writes, top of page 280 of his fairly recent book ‘A Beautiful Question ‘:

        “It is, I think, the single most profound result in all of physics”

        1. Hilbert’s remark is a good example of something which was supposed to sound progressive at the time (women as professors), but is now very dated (the idea that it is natural that a bathhouse be segregated, even if “separate but equal”).

          There aren’t many people where, when you mention their theorem, the question arises “which one?”.

          Every physicist has heard of Noether, but her physics theorem, by itself enough to ensure her immortality, was just a minor part of her work.

          Though most mathematicians are most productive when young (though there are exceptions), Noether died relatively young and probably would have continued to do good work had she lived longer.

        2. BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time had an episode discussing Emmy Noether, which you might be able to listen to here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m00025bw

          Astonishingly, until the pandemic this programme was broadcast live – every week a totally different cultural topic with appropriate expert guests; how the presenter, Melvyn Bragg, managed to steer the discussion so that it covered the subject so well whilst keeping everything on time is beyond my comprehension!

  8. The HR director was interviewing potential new employees and asked the fellow what did he expect and hope for with the company. The man replied – a position near a window.

  9. Not just Huffpo. At least a dozen articles in the NYT, Wapi, and LAT say It’s racism without a doubt, and you’re the problem if you don’t accept it right now.

  10. I have been seeing, with increasing anger, the many self-righteous posts on the media about how the Georgia shooting was an entirely racially motivated crime. All while ignoring the present signs that it was for entirely different but equally terrible reasons. You know, the ever present dangers for all women in that line of work needs to be recognized.

    1. The part I never really get is the obsession with determining why, what was the motive. Whether it’s shooting up a school or a shopping mall – what was the motive. I say what the hell does it matter. Let’s see, a young white guy with guns and access to all the ammo he wants. In a nation full of disturbed people with millions of weapons, what is this thing about motive? Oh, if I just knew the motive everything would be alright. What a waste of time. But lets do a study on that and maybe appoint some more congressional committees.

      1. I think it’s human nature to want to understand why things happen. We wouldn’t have science (or religion) if it weren’t for that fundamental curiosity.

        1. Yes, I understand that as well. But on this issue, if we have not concluded what the problem is by now?? I kind of hinted what the problem is here but hey, it’s only guns. No rocket science required.

    2. The motive may be simply and entirely the overwhelming need to satisfy a compulsion. Beyond that it’s a grab bag.

  11. For Let’s Laugh Day, my favorite Hitchens joke (I don’t know if he came up with it, but he used it in a debate):

    Did you hear about the Amish girl who was excommunicated? Too Mennonite.

    (say it out loud if you don’t get it)

    1. And to think Hitchens also claimed puns were the lowest form of wit (a play, I believe, on Wilde’s claim regarding sarcasm). Hitch is also the fella who came up with the slogan for the Catholic Church: “No child’s behind left.”

  12. A correction. The 2008 gamma-ray burst was much farther away than 2.9 million light years. It was 7.5 Billion light years away, which in look-back-time is half way to the big bang.

    1. Also, it always makes it hard for me to grasp, but there is a slight, but not infinitesimal, difference between two statements, re distance rather than time I guess, when it’s that far, namely:

      It is 7.5 Billion light years away—versus

      It was 7.5 Billion light years away.

      Depends when you get out your little ruler and place it end-to-end quite a few times to work it out—also whether you can live long enough to do it! That’s a joke but I don’t do those little faces whatever they’re called!!—oh, ’emoji’ I think.

      1. Actually, that is a serious issue. There are several ways to measure distance: with a ruler, as you say (proper distance), via trigonometry (angular-size distance, proper-motion distance, parallax), via how dim a light of known brightness appears (luminosity distance), distance via light-travel time, and so on. In normal life, they all give the same result. In cosmology, one must take into account the facts that the Universe is expanding and that space might not be Euclidean. Sometimes, as you say, one must specify when the measurement is made.

        I’ve spent literally years thinking about this, as it is an important part of my research.

        how to calculate cosmological distances

        One of the people awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 2011 used my Fortran code described in the paper linked to above. [looks for emoji of someone blowing their own horn]

      2. That confuses me too. I believe the correct statement is that the object WAS 7.5 billion ly away when the burst happened, but the object IS much farther away now because the universe has expanded during the 7.5 billion years the light has been traveling, but I could be wrong.

        1. See 13.; I goofed again.

          Gotta be careful when it’s the last remark that I’m trying to reply to.

        2. If the light has been traveling 7.5 billion years, then the object was much closer than 7.5 billion ly when the burst happened, since the space the light has been traveling through has been expanding during that time.

  13. Yes, and I’m glad you guessed/deduced correctly (I should have been explicit) that the “is” and “was” which I wrote referred to the ‘whens’ of the event and its radiation getting to earth, and not to simply between 2008 and 2021.

    And even subtler is the frame of reference in cosmology; after all Mr. Photon is insisting to me the age of the visible universe is a big fat ZERO. At least that’s what I think he is saying.

    1. That reminds me of the joke about a museum janitor who, when asked the age of the museum’s T-Rex fossil, answered 70 million and thirty years. When asked how he could be so precise he said “Well, when I started work here I was told the T-Rex fossil was 70 million years old, and I’ve worked here for thirty years.”

  14. What we know is z=0.937, which means that the redshift is 0.937, or that the Universe has expanded by a factor of 1.937 (yes, almost a factor of 2) since that light was emitted. That is all we know without additional assumptions. To calculate any distance, we have to know how the scale factor of the Universe changed with time.

    Plug z=0.937 into
    Ned Wright’s cosmology calculator
    . It defaults to the cosmological parameters which we think we now know pretty well. The result is that the distance quoted is the light-travel time, i.e. the light took that long to reach us. As one can see from the calculator, distances measured by other means differ greatly from that.

  15. Poor cats. My indoor cat has been confused all winter by birds that land on the chimney stack and coo (pigeons) or squawk (sea gulls and magpies). She spends a long time looking out of the window for them, And this while sitting on the mantlepiece. But she never looks up like these two charmers.

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