Saturday: Hili dialogue

July 17, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on the Cat Sabbath: Saturday, July 17, 2021: National Peach Ice-Cream Day (why the hyphen between “ice” and “cream”?). It’s also National Tattoo Day (some day I must have a post in which readers post their tattoos. Please take a picture now, though!), Wrong Way Corrigan Day (celebrating the day in 1938 when Douglas Corrigan, pretending to fly from New York to California, crossed the Atlantic and landed in Dublin).  He never admitted that he made the flight intentionally, though of course he did. The New York Post printed its August 5 headline—celebrating Corrigan’s return to New York—backwards:

It’s also World Day for International Justice and World Emoji Day.

News of the Day:

Did you know that South Africa is melting down—experiencing a crisis from which it might not recover? Former President Jacob Zuma, a crook if ever there was one, was arrested and jailed for contempt of court for refusing to testify about the corruption of his government. Although he’s a bad piece of work, Zuma has many followers, and many of them, in a faux “demonstration”, are now simply looting parts of the country to absolute emptiness, and 212 have died. Many stores have had every ware in them stolen.  (The violence is concentrated in KwaZulu-Natal, where Grania volunteered to teach school for several years.) The cops can’t stop the looting, which comes on top of an impoverished population laid low by COVID. Were Grania alive, I would dearly like to hear her take on this.

While South Africa melts down, Germany and Belgium are washed out with severe flooding. In some places six months’ worth of rain fell in a single day. The death toll is over 125, and over 1,300 are missing. Never in my life did I think I’d see such flood-induced carnage in that part of the world.

According to Reuters, a federal judge in Texas (of course) blocked new applications for the “dreamers” initiative, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that gave immigrant children who came to America a path to citizenship. Judge Andrew Hansen said that Obama’s creation of the program in 2012 was illegal, but added that those already here under that program could continue on. Although Biden pledged to continue the program, it looks as if this one is bound for the Supreme Court, and I don’t have high hopes for DACA there.

This is a remarkable advance in biochemistry. A neural-network-based Google computer program, DeepMind AlphaFold2, also known as AlphaFold, has been shown to be able to take the “linear” amino acid sequence of a protein and predict how it will fold up into a three-dimensional structure with remarkable accuracy. This was heretofore almost impossible given the varieties of way a protein could conceivably assume a three-dimensional shape, and has huge ramifications for both our pure knowledge of biochemistry and for medicine. The two papers are are out today in Science and Nature., and can be seen at the links.  (h/t: Bryan)

An artist in Italy auctioned off an invisible “conceptual” sculpture for $18,300. The artist, Salvatore Garau, sold literally nothing. What did the credulous buyer get for their money? ArtNet News reports:

The lucky buyer went home with a certificate of authenticity and a set of instructions: the work, per Garau, must be exhibited in a private house in a roughly five-by-five-foot space free of obstruction.

“When I decide to ‘exhibit’ an immaterial sculpture in a given space, that space will concentrate a certain amount and density of thoughts at a precise point, creating a sculpture that, from my title, will only take the most varied forms,” the artist went on.

If you thought that was artsy claptrap, he goes on to draw a rather lofty comparison to the work: “After all, don’t we shape a God we’ve never seen?” he added.

The artist didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Here’s the artist, who made a bit of dosh from doing almost nothing:

Via Instagram

I wouldn’t pay a plugged nickel for a sculpture of the conceptual (and nonexistent) God.

More lighthearted news. Why do hot dogs come in packs of 10 but hot dog buns in packs of 8? (To even out the number of dogs and buns, you’d have to buy five packs of buns and four of dogs.) Have you ever noticed that?  If you have, so has Heinz The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Heinz company has started a petition called The Heinz Hot Dog Pact whose motto is “10 Wieners. 10 Buns. It’s time.” It’s already garnered 28,500 signatures, though what effect it will have is dubious. But frankly (pardon the pun), I’m tired of cutting up the last two dogs and stuffing them in a but that already holds another dog. Not that I eat hot dogs that often, but still . . .   I signed the petition (h/t Ginger K).

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 608,070, an increase of 273 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,093,043, an increase of about 8,800 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on July 17 includes:

  • 180 – Twelve inhabitants of Scillium (near Kasserine, modern-day Tunisia) in North Africa are executed for being Christians. This is the earliest record of Christianity in that part of the world.
  • 1821 – The Kingdom of Spain cedes the territory of Florida to the United States.
  • 1902 – Willis Carrier creates the first air conditioner in Buffalo, New York.

Here’s an early one. You couldn’t exactly put this in your window! (Carrier is of course still a big name in air conditioning):

Here’s a 14-minute film of what the execution and preparations for it was like. WARNING: the shooting is quite gory:

  • 1938 – Douglas Corrigan takes off from Brooklyn to fly the “wrong way” to Ireland and becomes known as “Wrong Way” Corrigan.

See above.

Winnie, Harry, and Joe
  • 1955 – Disneyland is dedicated and opened by Walt Disney in Anaheim, California.

Here’s the parking lot on opening day:

Los Angeles Examiner / USC Libraries / Corbis via Getty
  • 1976 – The opening of the Summer Olympics in Montreal is marred by 25 African teams boycotting the games because of New Zealand’s participation. Contrary to rulings by other international sports organizations, the IOC had declined to exclude New Zealand because of their participation in South African sporting events during apartheid.
  • 1984 – The national drinking age in the United States was changed from 18 to 21.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1871 – Lyonel Feininger, German-American painter and illustrator (d. 1956)

Although he painted no cats, Feinnger is still one of my favorite modern painters. Here’s one of his works, The Market Church at Halle (1930):

  • 1899 – James Cagney, American actor and dancer (d. 1986)

Below: Cagney’s famous demise as a a ganster in the movie White Heat (1949) “Top of the World”.

I don’t know this guy, and I doubt he’s a relative, but I have to put in every famous Coyne who appears in the Wikipedia pages.

Lachenal, along with Maurice Herzog, was one of the first two people to climb an 8,000-meter peak, which happened to be Annapurna I in the Himalayas (they reached the top in 1950). You can read his story in the great mountaineering book Annapurna, by Herzog. Below is the iconic photo Lachenal took of Herzog standing on the summit of Annapurna I. After the climb, Lachenal lost all his toes to frostbite; Herzog lost all his fingers and toes. Read the book! Lachenal died at 34 while skiing into a snow-covered crevasse.

  • 1954 – Angela Merkel, German chemist and politician, Chancellor of Germany

Those who departed this vale of tears on July 17 include:

  • 1790 – Adam Smith, Scottish economist and philosopher (b. 1723)
  • 1912 – Henri Poincaré, French mathematician, physicist, and engineer (b. 1854)
  • 1918 – Victims of the Shooting of the Romanov family
    • Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia (b. 1901)
    • Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia (b. 1899)
    • Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia (b. 1895)
    • Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna of Russia (b. 1897)
    • Alexandra Fyodorovna of Russia (b. 1872)
    • Aleksei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia (b. 1904)
    • Nikolai II of Russia (b. 1868)
    • Anna Demidova (b. 1878)
    • Ivan Kharitonov (b. 1872)
    • Alexei Trupp (b. 1858)
    • Yevgeny Botkin (b. 1865)

See movie clip above.

Lady Day still had it at the end of her career. Here’s a live version of “Fine and Mellow” recorded in 1957, and look at the musicians! Besides Billie, there’s Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, and Lester Young on tenor sax, Gerry Mulligan on baritone sax, Roy Eldridge on trumpet, and Milt Hinton on double bass.

  • 1967 – John Coltrane, American saxophonist and composer (b. 1926)

A great Coltrane Quintet cover of “My Favorite Things” (who woulda thought it could become a great jazz song?). The other members are jazz icons, too, with Eric Dolphy on flute, Elvin Jones on drums, McCoy Tyner on piano, and Reggie Workman on bass.

  • 1974 – Dizzy Dean, American baseball player and sportscaster (b. 1910)
  • 2009 – Walter Cronkite, American journalist and actor (b. 1916)
  • 2020 – John Lewis, American Politician and Civil Rights Leader. (b. 1940)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili has had enough of being outside:

Hili: Rationality has prevailed.
Me: Really?
Hili: Yes, it’s time to go home.

In Polish:
Hili: Racjonalizm zwyciężył.
Ja: Naprawdę?
Hili: Tak, pora wracać do domu.

And Andrzej’s photo of Szaron:

We have three cat memes today. The first is from Divy:

From reader John, who captions this, “And though shalt worship no other God but CAT”:

From Jesus of the Day:

Two tweets from Barry. The first is one of the most remarkable examples of crypsis I know of. Moths usually fly by night and rest during the day, so they have to be well camouflaged when it’s light out. Perhaps that’s why so many moths are cryptic. This one mimics a cut twig. Be sure to watch the video.

Whoever adrienne michel is, he/she is absolutely dead wrong, and on both counts. No recantation, and evolution is both a theory and a fact.

Tweets from Matthew, who says, “correlation can be causation.” Indeed.

Lucifer the Kitten grows up and does pitty-pat in the way he experienced it.

If you’re into Darwiniana, here’s some news for you:

What is this insect? The answer is in the thread. You’ll be surprised.

Beewolves are wasps in the genus Philanthus; they prey on bees that they stuff in burrows to provision their young:

This kid is quite flummoxed and amused.

40 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

    1. But, in fact, not all hot dogs come in packages of 10. Some varieties are sold in packages of 8. And some hot dog adjacent sausages, like brats, can come in packages of 6. I know very little about industrial baking, so I don’t know how simple it would be to reconfigure the machinery for 10 rather than 8 buns. Of course, all the packaging would have to be re-done, and the entire supply chain from shipping containers to shelf-space in stores reset. With a package of buns now being 25% bigger, and multiple brands on the shelf, less of something it going to be put on display. Wow. When you get a really good night’s sleep, you can really think about things.

      1. Comedian Rich Hall once did a “Sniglets” (words that should be in the dictionary, but aren’t) segment on this. If you have more buns than franks, you have “excess bunnage.” If you have more franks than buns, you have “excess wienerage.” If you have equal numbers of both, you are “frankuilized.”

      2. Hebrew National have a 1/4 lb hot dog that comes in packages of 4. Their low fat dogs come in packages of 6. Our problem is we seldom eat hot dogs, so the buns go bad before they are used up.

  1. Love those cars in the parking lot – 1955. So we have South Africa coming unglued, Haiti in turmoil, Cuba fed up with communism and a slow motion insurrection here in the U.S. Everyone is happy.

  2. Re cigarettes and cancer: the graph shows that prior to 1900 no one smoked cigarettes. There might be valid reasons why the data plotted show this anomaly (maybe the data only includes certain brands/styles/manufacturers?), but it makes me suspicious of the whole thing.


    1. Yes, no smoking before 1900 is like saying no drinking before then either. Probably more people chewing tobacco before 1900 than after. Also more smoking of pipes prior to 1900. What killed President Grant – throat cancer and cigars.

  3. The twig moth maybe takes the award for best camouflage ever. Love this stuff.

    The little boy with the clever/funny parents grows up to be 1) a plumber or 2) a neurosurgeon or 3) stand up comic. I laughed at that one.

    Thanks for these. Helped offset the Romanov family clip.

  4. An artist in Italy auctioned off an invisible “conceptual” sculpture for $18,300.

    Reminds me of the final scene of Robert Altman’s 1994 film Prêt-à-Porter (aka Ready to Wear) in which a famous fashion designer’s new line of couture was to have the models walk the runway without a stitch on. [Warning: NSFW, if you work with bluenoses who object to nudity.]:

    1. Back in 1966, Yoko Ono had an art exhibition in London. One of her works was “Board to Hammer a Nail In;” you paid a shilling to hammer in a nail. John Lennon, who had never met Yoko, stopped by and said “I’ll pay you an imaginary shilling and hammer in an imaginary nail.” And he did. They realized that they were on the same wavelength, and the rest is history.

    2. I guess it is different from the Emperor’s Clothes, because nobody is fooled in seeing the ‘very fine fabric’.

  5. “I’m tired of cutting up the last two dogs and stuffing them in a but that already holds another dog.”

    Oh, how I wish this typo had just one more T. It would be the most perfectest typo I ever did see 😀 (Yes, my sense of humor is indeed very sophisticated. Thank you for noticing!)

    ““When I decide to ‘exhibit’ an immaterial sculpture in a given space, that space will concentrate a certain amount and density of thoughts at a precise point, creating a sculpture that, from my title, will only take the most varied forms,’ the artist went on.”

    Seems like John Cage’s 4’33” in physical art form.

    1. I can’t get the words “immaterial sculpture” out of my head. It’s so damn pretentious that I can’t stop thinking about it. I guess that makes it art! It’s making me think! I mean, all it’s making me think is “this is so stupid and I can’t believe what ‘art’ has become,” but thinking I am.

  6. “This is a remarkable advance in biochemistry” – in another scientific breakthrough announced on Wednesday:

    In a medical first, researchers harnessed the brainwaves of a paralyzed man unable to speak and turned what he intended to say into sentences on a computer screen.

    It will take years of additional research but the study, reported Wednesday, marks an important step toward one day restoring more natural communication for people who can’t talk because of injury or illness.

  7. I envisage an art heist movie in which rival gangs simultaneously claim to have stolen the imaginary sculpture and put it up for ransom. A ransom is paid and it is alleged the art-work has been returned but the other gang contests this. The insurance company doesn’t know whether to pay out or not and the police are clutching at thin air…

    1. Couldn’t the entire scenario be considered a work of art in itself? After all, literally anything can be art now.

      Look, this piece of rolled up newspaper with a half-empty cup of yogurt I found in a trash can in Times Square represents the plight of the homeless and the decay of modern urban America. Expected auction price is only $60,000 – $80,000!

      I don’t feel like wasting my time searching for it for more than the 30 seconds I just took, but I remember an “exhibit” at a big museum a few years ago (maybe MOMA or something), where the “piece” was just a dirty room. You know, an unmade bed, stuff all over the floor, etc. It represented…all sorts of things, according to the artist and the art world’s eminent critics. And that particular exhibit is honestly much more a piece of art than a lot of works I’ve seen over the last couple of decades. At least it took some time, if not much thought.

      It seems like “art” these days is determined by only two things: what pretentious interpretations the artist and art critics can muster, and what the market will tolerate (which seems to be just about anything).

  8. [James] Cagney’s famous demise as a a ganster [sic] in the movie White Heat (1949) “Top of the World”.

    Another Cagney gangster movie that ends with a famous scene of his demise is The Public Enemy (1931), in which his corpse is delivered to his mother’s home by rival Chicago mobsters. I remember it freaked me out, first time I saw it as a kid on The Late Show:

  9. Wrong Way Corrigan Day

    When, according to the sub-head, the “Ticker Tape Tonnage Tops Lindburgh”.
    I’m trying to work out how they did the headline. I’m guessing they did it as an image block – and got some ink accumulation along the edge of the block.
    Does that mean the sub-editor needed warning of the “spontaneous” headline they needed to prepare for?

    Greetings on the Cat Sabbath

    That really should be the name of a (feline) tribute band. “Finished with meeeow woman …” .

    Why do hot dogs come in packs of 10 but hot dog buns in packs of 8?

    It’s odd. Logically, since hot dog sausages come in circular tins (well, here they do) they should come by sevens or nineteens (assuming they are close approximations to rigid cylinders). My guess is that the buns come by eights so their mass is a small-numbers fraction of a standard loaf weight. So that would be a nice round hundred grammes here.

    [protein folding]

    The magnitude of the computational challenge may be indicated by that protein folding has been the target of a number of “distributed computing” projects over the years, where hundreds (thousands, sometimes millions) of home users are passed part of the problem through an internet connection. This machine, for example, is 6.5 hours into processing one such analytical lump from Rosetta@Home, and should be finished that lump in about 06:17:21 (of idle CPU time). Since most of my time (e.g., thinking how to phrase this) at the computer is thinking what to write, that unit should be finished some time early this evening.
    I doubt such projects will be replaced by this new finding, but likely the revised algorithms will be incorporated into the computation method shortly.

    1902 – Willis Carrier creates the first air conditioner in Buffalo, New York.

    You could say that he carved out a new career for himself, but [sound effect : door slammed shut]

  10. Lachenal, along with Maurice Herzog, was one of the first two people to climb an 8,000-meter peak,

    With the possible-but-unlikely exception of Mallory and/or Irvine on Everest in 1924.

    Tweets from Matthew, who says, “correlation can be causation.” Indeed.

    The version my Sadistics letcherer taught after we developed the linear-least squares regression maths in tutorials was “Correlation does not mean causation, but can strongly suggest it.” ; sometimes he’d leave out the “strongly”.

  11. A great Coltrane Quintet cover of “My Favorite Things” (who woulda thought it could become a great jazz song?).

    Reminds me how Miles Davis (in whose First Great Quintet Coltrane was playing at the time) turned an old standard like “Bye Bye Blackbird” into a great jazz tune:

    1. Yes, my first reaction too.
      However, I think it was the “Emperor’s new clothes” (“Kejserens nye klæder” by Hans Christian Andersen). Of course, with that translation the alliteration in the title gets lost, so King’s clothes can be defended.
      Surprising that none of the critics and buyers appear to have read that quite famous story.

  12. Most readers obviously have mastered Hili’s parlance; but for for the rest of us :

    Hili: Rationalism has won.
    I: really?
    Hili: Yes, it’s time to go home.

    (Google translation)

  13. Look, you freeze hot dogs. It’s not like they lose any of their exceptional quality in the process.

  14. I am always torn about Billie Holiday. I don’t actual care for her style of singing, although my favorite music is from the 30s and 40s, and many of the songs she sings are ones I particularly like. On the other hand, I absolutely love Teddy Wilson’s band’s accompaniment. When one of their songs comes on the radio, I can now identify that it’s Holiday from the first couple bars of the introduction because the Wilson band is very distinctive. Then I usually change stations.

  15. No takers on the bizarro insect? I’ve never seen anyting like it, but first guess is that it’s a lepidopteran larva trying to look like a centipede. The best clue, I think, is the four pairs of abdominal legs [prolegs] — present also in sawfly and scorpionfly larva — but latter are lower disparity, without anything like the anterior appendages… the two anterior pairs of these are probably NOT legs, rather something like the tufted appendages on tussock moths and the like. same for the cerci-like tail appendages, though these could be prolegs…

  16. Hi Jerry – I appreciate the mention of my father, Wrong Way Corrigan. As far as I know, he never really admitted that he did the flight on purpose to anyone, though my late brother said he sort of admitted it to him once. His plane is now on display at the Planes of Fame museum in Chino, CA, awaiting restoration, a project delayed somewhat by the coronavirus.

  17. And the first car behind the Cadillac @ L in that Disneyland parking lot pic is about a ’52 Kaiser – you can tell from the dip in the windshield. Behind the Kaiser is a “Step-Down” Hudson, because they are unmistakable. Ca. 1951.

  18. Some years after the Montreal Games I was (a kid) living in Auckland, New Zealand (1982ish).
    The “Springboks” rugby team from the Republic of Sth Africa were touring NZ and the whole country went bananas. Protests everywhere – pro but mainly anti. It was the biggest thing in a decade in NZ.

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