Monday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

April 26, 2021 • 6:30 am

Back to another damn week: it’s Monday, April 26, 2021 and National Pretzel Day. I’ll take the big soft ones with mustard, please. It’s also Audubon Day (he was born on this day in 1785, World Intellectual Property Day, National Help a Horse Day, and Hug an Australian Day (but only if you’re both vaccinated).

Posting will be light today as I have several things I must attend to, some of them duck related

Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) honors the British developmental biologist Anne McLaren, born on this day in 1927 (died 2007). Along with John Biggers, she was the first to successfully achieve in vitro fertilization in mice, which led, in the hands of later researchers. to using the same method in humans. It’s now a common way to deal with infertility.

The Barolo I reported opening and tasting yesterday, which turned out to be so-so, has improved markedly after a day in the bottle under vacuum. It’s actually quite tasty now, though not of course the equivalent of a $70 Barolo. Still, it’s one of the few reds I’ve had that has palpably improved a day after opening.

News of the Day:

Here is some remarkable video, taken from the Mars rover Perseverance, of the tiny helicopter Ingenuity’s third flight—another great success. According to NASA,

The helicopter took off at 4:31 a.m. EDT (1:31 a.m. PDT), or 12:33 p.m. local Mars time, rising 16 feet (5 meters) – the same altitude as its second flight. Then it zipped downrange 164 feet (50 meters), just over half the length of a football field, reaching a top speed of 6.6 feet per second (2 meters per second).

It then came back and settled happily where it started, as you see below:

More good news. Biden just finished his first 100 days in office and his report card—his approval rating—was pretty good, much better than Trump’s at the same time but still not as good as Obama’s. His overall rating is 54%, which CNN deems a bit below average for postwar Presidents, and yet I think Biden’s done a much better job at this point than, say, Obama.

The lower rating, I believe, reflects a greater division in the country, with Republicans determined to dislike Biden no matter what: the overall aprproval rating is 96% among Democrats and just 10% among Republicans. Take the average of those two figures, assuming a 50/50 party split in the US, and you get 53%—almost spot on.  Among different areas, the ratings were highest for Biden’s handling of the pandemic (64% approval) and the economy (52% approval). The lowest ratings were for his handling of immigration (37% approval) and gun violence (42% approval).

Here are the Oscar winners in the “Big Six” categories with the NYT reviews:

Best Picture “Nomadland”

Best Director Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland”

Best Actor Anthony Hopkins, “The Father”

Best Actress Frances McDormand, “Nomadland”

Best Supporting Actor Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah”

Best Supporting Actress Yuh-Jung Youn, “Minari”

Sadly, the Indonesian military has found the wreckage of the submarine that went missing with a crew of 53. It’s resting 3,000 feet below the surface, and is in three pieces. Clearly, nobody survived.

But more news! The President of the European Commission just announced that fully vaccinated Americans will be able to travel to the EU this summer. Exact dates for entry haven’t been announced, and I won’t want to go in the summer, but come fall . . .  well, I hope the restaurants in Paris are open. And there’s Poland, where my surrogate family and beloved Hili await, along with two cats I haven’t yet met.

India set yet another world record for Covid infections, with 349,691 new cases reported on Saturday, the fourth daily world record in a row. Reports of what’s going on there, with sick people being turned away from hospitals to die in the street, are heart-rending.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 571,573, an increase of 707 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,123,697, an increase of about 9,400 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on April 26 includes this:

  • 1564 – Playwright William Shakespeare is baptized in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England (date of actual birth is unknown).

Once again, here’s Shakespeare’s baptismal record, which I’ve outlined:

Here’s Booth, who was cornered by the cavalry in a barn that was then lit on fire. He was shot through the spine in the barn, and died 3 hours later after uttering, “Tell my mother that I died for my country.” He was 26.

The Picasso work painted the same year:

  • 1956 – SS Ideal X, the world’s first successful container ship, leaves Port Newark, New Jersey, for Houston, Texas.
  • 1970 – The Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization enters into force.
  • 1981 – Dr. Michael R. Harrison of the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center performs the world’s first human open fetal surgery.

“Open” fetal surgery, as opposed to other methods like endoscopic fetal surgery, involves opening the uterus and operating on the fetus directly. It’s amazing that this can be done, but it’s true. Wikipedia describes the first successful operation is described this way: “The fetus in question had a congenital hydronephrosis, a blockage in the urinary tract that caused the kidney to dangerously extend. To correct this a vesicostomy was performed by placing a catheter in the fetus to allow the urine to be released normally. The blockage itself was removed surgically after birth.”

  • 1986 – The Chernobyl disaster occurs in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.
  • 1989 – The deadliest known tornado strikes Central Bangladesh, killing upwards of 1,300, injuring 12,000, and leaving as many as 80,000 homeless.
  • 2018 – American comedian Bill Cosby is found guilty of sexual assault.
  • 2019 – Marvel Studios‘ blockbuster film, Avengers: Endgame, is released, becoming the highest-grossing film of all time, surpassing the previous box office record of Avatar.

Can this be true? Highest-grossing film of all time? Why not The Last Picture Show?  (Don’t answer; I already know.) The gross: $2.8 billion!

Notables born on this day include:

This is described as a photo of Audubon by Matthew Brady. Below is his painting of mallards from The Birds of America

Now Delacroix could draw cats. Here’s his 1830-1831 picture “A Young Tiger Playing With Its Mother” (“Jeune tigre jouant avec sa mère”).

Here’s Ma Rainey and her band, which you can see depicted in the movie “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”. I rated it “very good but not great.”

  • 1889 – Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian-English philosopher and academic (d. 1951)
  • 1894 – Rudolf Hess, Egyptian-German politician (d. 1987)
  • 1918 – Fanny Blankers-Koen, Dutch sprinter and long jumper (d. 2004)

Blankers-Koen won four track and field gold medals (one in a relay) in the 1948 Olympics in London; she was 30. Here are all four of her performances.

  • 1933– Carol Burnett, American actress, singer, and producer
  • 1970 – Melania Trump, Slovene-American model; 47th First Lady of the United States

Those who began their Dirt Nap on April 26 include:

  • 1865 – John Wilkes Booth, American actor, assassin of Abraham Lincoln (b. 1838)
  • 1951 – Arnold Sommerfeld, German physicist and academic (b. 1868)
  • 1976 – Sidney Franklin, American bullfighter (b. 1903)

Franklin, praised by Hemingway in Death in the Afternoon, was not only an American bullfighter, but a Jewish bullfighter, perhaps the only one in history. Here’s a photo:

  • 1984 – Count Basie, American pianist, composer, and bandleader (b. 1904)

The Duke and the Count: the two best jazz bandleaders of their time. Here’s the Count with “Basie Boogie”:

  • 1989 – Lucille Ball, American model, actress, comedian, and producer (b. 1911)
  • 1999 – Jill Dando, English journalist and television personality (b. 1961)
  • 2013 – George Jones, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1931)

George Jones’s song “He Stopped Loving Her Today” was mentioned by most country greats interviewed by Ken Burns as the “most classic country song”. Here he is performing it live.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Malgorzata explains Hili’s thoughts: “Hili is looking at the world and marvels over human folly. She finds most of it in the mass media.”

Hili: A mountain of improbability.
A: Where?
Hili: Mainly in the media.
In Polish:
Hili: Góra nieprawdopodobieństwa.
Ja: Gdzie?
Hili: Głównie w mediach.

And it’s been a long time since we had a Leon monologue, but here’s a new one:

Leon: Are we going to sleep?

In Polish: Idziemy spać?

Here’s little Kulka in a formal pose:

A cartoon from Stash Krod:

Another animal conundrum (compare it to where a giraffe should wear its tie); from Mark:

From Cole & Marmalade:

Titania McGrath finds that Newton is getting canceled because he benefited from colonialism:

Tweets from Matthew. Alternatively, perhaps they think geese can read.

A full minute of a chicken chasing a dog:

Some of these are very good; have a look at all the submissions. The second one below the first tweet is my favorite:

No human could remain intact at this depth. Cephalopods are amazing:

A fortuitous photo of the Sun. Do you know what McCarthy captured?

A good one:

33 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

    1. You got there before me! And Audubon’s ducks are pretty rubbish! Lear was a brilliant bird painter, but for wildfowl Peter Scott or Charles Tunnicliffe…

    1. People will go into the crash barriers at full … uh … speed.

      “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”

  1. Shark/harmonica is a trick question. That harmonica is the wrong way round.

    (The holes where you blow/draw are pointing outwards).

  2. Nice video of ingenuity passing out of camera view and then returning to launch-site. As this all must be done autonomously by the helicopter: I understand how it knows its altitude by some type of miniature echo altimeter, but how does it know its horizontal location without gps?

    1. Well, to keep weight down in the helicopter, I’d suggest either monitoring and stereoscopy from (several) of the main rover’s navigation cameras, or possibly three antennae on the rover recieving the signals from the helicopter and triangulating. (Three pickups, not co-linear, to give redundancy at all directions relative to the rover.)
      Mars does have a magnetic field at surface. It’s not of vaguely uniform strength or orientation across the whole planet’s surface, but for local navigation, that’s not terribly important. A field sensor on the rover and a field sensor on the helicopter would give a restricted range of orientations for the helicopter w.r.t. the rover, and the relative strengths of signal at the two (minimum, redundancy) antennae on the rover should give enough data to navigate back to base.
      Two values are required to be found – equivalent to NS and EW position. You can get them by solving three simultaneous equations for e.g. signal decay on two pairs of antennae of known positions (which gives the third relationship) will give you that. How to arrange that, with a minimal set of equipment (weight) would be part of the original rover design back in the late 90s. They had the same problem (well, question) with the Sojourner/ Pathfinder pair then, and probably reused the same, flight-proven, system.

      We faced the same problem every day at work, keeping track of the position of an ROV w.r.t. the BOP stack on the seabed. We also had to keep track of twists on the R.O.V. umbilical, and fight up to 5 knots of bottom current (of water, around 150,000 times the density of Mars’ atmosphere), but we do have the option of clamping onto the BOP stack with an actuator, when we’re not doing a seabed dropped object survey, sediment plume survey or something else. Typically, we’ll drop 4 or 5 acoustic reflectors to the seabed and use sonic for positioning within their grid. Same problem, different environment, similar solutions. Pick up the reflectors after lifting the BOP stack and doing the dropped object post-job survey.

      1. Of course triangulation from the rover and a cooperative process between it and the helicopter. Thanks!

        1. Well, probably. They may have come up with something I haven’t thought of. They had several years of brainstorming to my several hours.

  3. Owing to a recent re-release in China, “Avatar” has regained (just barely) box office champ status.

  4. After all that, I’m ready to go back to bed and I’m only starting my second cup of coffee. Or maybe head off to Calais, hoping the Tim Horton’s there has those astonishing pretzel bagels.

  5. In case someone doesn’t know about Tatiana McGrath, she is actually the creation of a British liberal comedian (a man, actually) who does a great job showing how ridiculous and un-progressive “woke” thinking is.

    1. Jerry quotes Tatiana so often, he probably wakes up in those long, cold Chicago nights, dreading what foibles of evolutionary biology Tatiana will find, should her (his?) baleful glare turn in his direction.

      Mea culpa – I’ve watched half a Lord of the Rings DVD recently. It puts you into a particular way of thinking.
      {Eye-of-Sauron emoji]

  6. Amid all of the hullabaloo over last night’s Academy Awards ceremony, it would be easy to overlook the very remarkable film which was the winner in the short documentary class. It follows 90-year-old Colette Marin-Catherine, a former French Resistance member, as she visits the Nordhausen concentration camp where her brother — also a Resistance fighter — was killed. She is accompanied by a young history student who is documenting the story of her brother. The film is deeply moving, and you won’t be able to watch it without shedding tears with the two women, but it’s all the more powerful for that.

    1. We can add a tear for Lisset Moru, featured in yesterday’s post, the 17 y.o. French Resistance activist who smiled for her 1943 Auschwitz prison photo but within two months had died from illness and neglect.

  7. The first successful fetal surgery story is crazy. Additional details I gleaned: the mother was seven months pregnant, in the womb was also healthy twin girl which the surgery put at risk, so that was quite an ethical question, and the boy whose life was saved was named after the surgeon!

    1. That is a real thicket of ethical complexities. Takes me back to Statistics class.
      Someone, somewhere, is probably assessing the practicalities of performing a “hemi-Cesarian” extracting one of the twins for surgery and the “premature” ward, then repairing the womb wall “on the way out” to try to keep the otherwise-healthy twin in for another week or several.
      But such a strategy in human obstetrics (is that the area?) would be preceded by considerable experimentation in non-humans. So it wouldn’t exactly be unknown, in the field.

      1. If it is a true helicopter, then such an attitude (of the aircraft) would be corrected by increasing the angle-of-attack in one sector of the rotation and simultaneously reducing it in the opposite quadrant, while keeping the collective (average angle of attack, over all rotor blades and sectors of rotation) constant, so the other two sectors don’t torque the rotor disc and the aircraft into additional complications.
        We’re not talking about a human pilot, so controlling the pilot’s (mental) workload is less of an issue than with human-piloted craft, but it probably remains na issue nonetheless. IF I were calculating what to do in such a circumstance, I’m not sure if I’d drop the collective (slightly, for increased lift and hoping to correct the attitude away from ground turbulence) or raise the collective (to reduce overall lift) and attempt a semi-controlled landing. Thinking in those terms, I’d probably go go for “drop”, to regain control of attitude, but accepting that landing is likely to need a lot more thought.
        There is a reason that the section of the Union newsletter concerning helicopter operations, piloting and their industrial relations (hours, pay, sackings etc) was titled “Those Magnificent Men“. We should really have added the girls too – not many female helicopter pilots, but they were getting more common. Definitely more co-pilots. But we, speaking for the grunts in the hold, kept good relations with the people at the sharp end.
        Motor power has it’s place, of course, but commanding an increase in engine power takes several seconds to effect (Earth atmosphere, fuel-plus-air, gas turbine engines ; not electric) while changing the distribution of lift (well, angle-of-attack, which is roughly proportional to lift until you approach stall) around the rotor disc is not far off instantaneous (10s or less of seconds, under an eighth of a rotation).
        Ah, there’s the point. Mars ‘copters rotate at ~10Hz, while what I’ve studied runs at just several Hz. That probably takes it out of the reaction time of humans. If I could afford a monocoptor drone, I bet there would be on-board flight logic to make it react in human-manageable periods.
        I’ve learned several things from being made to think. Thanks.

    1. I can only think of one time in (calculates) approaching a thousand hours of time in helicopters when we ever exceeded 45deg of roll/ pitch. It is, as you suggest, a very bad position for a rotor-craft to be in (I think most of the issues of lift-vector are similar between powered helicopter flight and autogyrorotating). After that tilt, and our successful re-firing of an engine before we hit the sea, the pilots powered down on the helideck (quite unusual) to send a report (and pile of technical data) into base, to go and hose out their flight suits, and then fly the aircraft back to base empty, while another aircraft came out to collect the crew we were relieving.
      This is not part of regular flight.
      As I recall, the conditions for flight included low wind speed in the vicinity. That is a normal flight condition. Too much wind (or too much second derivative of wind speed (jerk, gustiness)) and “Paraffin Budgie, she no fly!” says the HLO (Helicopter Landing Officer) to the assembled masses, wanting to go home. This makes him “Mr Popular” for a planck time, or less.
      It might be interesting to see how much damage the helicopter could sustain and regain flight. But only after the “proving” stage of the experiment is over.

  8. That’s quite the outfit the host, Ronnie Prophet, has on at the end of the clip of George Jones singing “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”

    Was that something the 5th Dimension left behind in the dressing room during a tour of Canada? Damn, but the 1970s produced some ugly-ass clothes. Maybe I’m suppressing some unpleasant memories here, but I can’t recall wearing anything that decade but blue jeans and t-shirts.

      1. ‘Cause Ronnie Prophet was a Canadian variety show host. Ol’ “No-Show” Jones even says “we’re happy to be here in Canada” at the start of the clip above.

        As to the sartorial sinkhole that was the Seventies, I’ve no reason to suspect that Canada was any worse than its southern neighbor. 🙂

        1. Thanks for the explanation. I moved to Canukistan at the end of 1976 and the sartorial sinkhole seemed pretty evenly distributed. I hope it isn’t racist to say this, but I think Blacks were better able to carry off those colors and wild-ass styles than the average white guy. Think Miracles, Temptations, and many other groups.

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