Monday: Hili dialogue

December 12, 2022 • 6:45 am

Good morning on Monday, December 12, 2022, otherwise known as 12/12/22—and in both the European and American style of writing dates.  It’s National Ambrosia Day, celebrating a fruit salad made with pineapple, mandarin oranges, coconut and miniature marshmallows, topped with maraschino cherries. Often it’s (or rather was, as it’s gone out of fashion) served not as a dessert but as a salad, guaranteed to kill your appetite for dinner.

Have a salad!

It’s also Gingerbread House Day, National Poinsettia Day, and National 12-Hour Fresh Breath Day.

Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) marks the life and achievements of the Hungarian-American engineer Mariá Telkes, born on this day in 1900 (died 1995). She was a pioneer in using solar energy, inventing a solar distillery (used by American soldiers in the Pacific in WWII, solar homes, and solar ovens. As Google notes:

Dr. Telkes’ inspiring career was filled with success and innovation. She was commissioned by the Ford Foundation and created a solar oven design that’s still used today. She also helped research solar energy at prestigious institutions such as NYU, Princeton University, and the University of Delaware. Dr. Telkes earned more than 20 patents and worked as a consultant for many energy companies. It’s no wonder she’s remembered as The Sun Queen.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 12 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

The news is thin today as the four remaining World Cup teams have a rest, and practice their penalty kicks. On Tuesday Argentina plays Croatia, and on the next day Morocco tangles with France. The final is a week from yesterday and the third-place match the day before that. I’m rooting for Argentina  because I want Messi’s team to win his last World Cup.

*The Lockerbie bombing, which killed 259 passengers and crew and 11 others on the ground, occurred 34 years ago, and I thought all the principals had either escaped or died. But no: they just caught the putative bombmaker. Amazing! (Two men, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and Lamin Khalifah Fhimah, were tried for the crime, but only the former was convicted. He was given compassionate release in 2009 for terminal prostate cancer, but lived three more years before he died in Libya.)

The alleged bomb-maker in the 1988 terrorist attack that destroyed a commercial jetliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, is in U.S. custody and will face federal charges, marking a breakthrough in one of the world’s longest and most sprawling terrorism investigations.

Authorities allege Abu Agila Mohammad Masud, a Libyan explosives expert, constructed the bomb used to destroy Pan Am Flight 103 on Dec. 21, 1988, as it flew from London to New York. The attack killed the 243 passengers and 16 crew on board. Another 11 people were killed by falling debris, making the attack one of the deadliest in U.K. history.

“The United States has taken custody of (the) alleged Pan Am flight 103 bombmaker,” a Justice Department spokesman said Sunday.

“Scottish prosecutors and police, working with UK Government and US colleagues, will continue to pursue this investigation,” a spokesperson for the Scottish Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said in a statement.

Mr. Masud’s arrest raises the possibility that families of the victims could for the first time see a suspect prosecuted in the U.S. Two other suspects were tried in Europe more than 20 years ago.

He is expected to make an initial appearance in a Washington, D.C., federal court in the coming days.

The Wikipedia article on Pan Am flight 103 notes this:

On the 32nd anniversary of the bombing, 21 December 2020, Abu Agila Mohammad Masud was charged in the US for having built the bomb that destroyed the aircraft and acting as a co-conspirator

On 11 December 2022, Scottish authorities announced that Masud was in US custody. The previous month it was reported that Masud had been kidnapped by a militia group in Libya, leading to speculation that he was going to be handed over to US authorities to stand trial.

Here’s a photo of the suspect; the caption is from Reuters:

[1/4] Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi, also known as Mohammed Abouajela Masud, (2nd L) sits behind bars during a hearing at a courtroom in Tripoli November 16, 2014. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

*As you may have seen yesterday, the Orion space capsule completed a near-perfect mission by landing just a few miles from the aircraft carrier designated to pick it up.  The lunar orbiting and return to Earth went well, the “skip” off the atmosphere went well, the capsule didn’t burn off in the 5000° heat, and it landed softly and perfectly.  If you want a news report, the Washington Post‘s will do as well as any.

Orion’s homecoming came 50 years to the day after the Apollo 17 spacecraft landing on the lunar surface in 1972 at the Taurus-Littrow valley, the last human mission to the moon. And it heralded, the space agency said, a series of upcoming missions that are to be piloted by a new generation of NASA astronauts as part of the Artemis program.

The flight was delayed repeatedly by technical problems with the massive Space Launch System rocket and the spacecraft. But the 26-day, 1.4 million-mile mission went “exceedingly well,” NASA officials said, from the launch on Nov. 16 to flybys that brought Orion within about 80 miles of the lunar surface and directly over the Apollo 11 landing site at Tranquility Base.

“From Tranquility Base to Taurus-Littrow to the tranquil waters of the Pacific, the latest chapter of NASA’s journey to the moon comes to a close. Orion, back on Earth,” NASA’s Rob Navias said during the agency’s live broadcast of the event.

. . .Now that the spacecraft is safely home, NASA will immediately begin to assess the data gathered on the flight and prepare for the Artemis II mission — which would put a crew of astronauts on the spacecraft for another trip in orbit around the moon. NASA hopes that mission would come as early as 2024, with a lunar landing to come as early as 2025 or 2026. That would be the first time people walk on the moon since the last of the Apollo missions.

NASA has yet to name the crews assigned to those flights. But its astronaut corps has already shifted its training to focus on Orion and lunar flights, after spending decades focusing solely on missions to the International Space Station.

Here’s a video of the descent and the splashdown:

*The lame-duck Congress may do something useful in the next several weeks, and it damn well better because as of January, we have a Democratic Senate and a Republican House. They’ve already passed a bill that forces states to recognize gay marriage, which is one good thing, and another is a new bipartisan immigration bill sponsored by two Senators, including the new Independent Kyrsten Sinema. As far as I can see, it’s a pretty good bill, as it solves the DACA dilemma in the right way and also tightens the borders while facilitating the resolution of immigration claims. From the WaPo:

Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) have outlined a potential immigration proposal that would provide a path to legalization for 2 million undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, known as “dreamers,” in exchange for at least $25 billion in increased funding for the Border Patrol and border security. The bipartisan framework, which is in flux, would also extend Title 42 for at least a year until new “regional processing centers” provided for in the bill could be built, according to a Senate aide. The Trump administration instituted Title 42 during the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that the immediate expulsion of migrants was necessary because of the public health crisis.

Meanwhile, Sens. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) are negotiating on a narrower bill based on a House-passed measure that provided a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented farmworkers. The senators have not yet reached a deal but are hoping to get to one before the end of the lame-duck session this month, according to a person familiar with the negotiations who, like others in this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the situation candidly.

. . .Besides protecting 2 million dreamers, the Sinema and Tillis draft would allocate money for border security, the hiring of more officers and pay raises for agents. The additional border security and detainment funds would exceed the $25 billion President Donald Trump demanded in his 2018 border proposal and may even exceed $40 billion, a Senate aide said. The proposal also includes changes to the nation’s asylum process, and would keep Title 42 in place until regional processing centers are built to house migrants.

The centers would mirror what is outlined in the Bipartisan Border Solutions Act, a bicameral deal proposed last year, and would hold migrants while they have their immigration cases heard and adjudicated more quickly, to replace the current process in which many asylum seekers are released and given a full court hearing, which can be months or years away.

The “dreamers” have only ever known life as Americans, but ones with an uncertain future. Now that future would be guaranteed, and that’s excellent. If they can resolve asylum cases (and remember, asylum is considered a valid reason for immigration, but seeking economic improvement isn’t) and not release immigrants to disappear while their hearings lie in the distant future, but expedite hearings, that’s also to the good. The problem is that this needs to get around a Senate filibuster, which means that 10 Republican senators need to sign on. But even George Will approves the Sinema-Tillis bill.

*Here’s a NYT article that I read because my insomnia is, I’m told, the result of anxiety—performance anxiety about being able to sleep makes me even more anxious and even less able to sleep. (Don’t ask me how this got started a few months ago; I don’t know.)  Fortunately, I found a good anxiety specialist and am sleeping better. Still, I tend to be an anxious person (duh!), and so was heartened to see “The Upside of Anxiety” in the NYT. There’s an upside?

Yes, of course, and it’s what I always tell myself: anxiety also helps you improve performance, be more conscientious, and so on. Indeed, being an academic almost requires anxiety. Still, I’d rather be less anxious and more chill. I’m working on it. But here are some related articles that, if you’re anxious, you may want to read (I think I need a “mental health day”!).

Stay balanced in the face of stress and anxiety with our collection of tools and advice.

*Finally, the Golden Globes is serving FOOD this year (click on screenshot):

Yes, yes, it was a pun but, here’s one tidbit:

The biggest question surrounding the nominations Monday isn’t who will be nominated but how will Hollywood respond. Will the usual press statements and social-media celebrations follow? Or will many take the lead of Brendan Fraser — a likely nominee this year for his performance in “The Whale” — who said he won’t attend the Globes.

In 2018, Fraser said he was groped by Philip Berk, a longtime HFPA member and former president of the organization, at an event in 2003. The HFPA found that Berk “inappropriately touched” Fraser, but that it “was intended to be taken as a joke and not as a sexual advance.”

“It’s because of the history that I have with them,” Fraser told GQ last month, explaining why he wouldn’t attend. “And my mother didn’t raise a hypocrite. You can call me a lot of things, but not that.”

And there’s lot of juicy scandal. Has anyone seen “The Whale”?  On Rotten Tomatoes, the public liked it a lot more than the critics (click on screenshot):

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili stands bold (she’s also put on some winter (?) weight):

Hili: We have to fight with adversities.
Paulina: And what are you fighting with?
Hili: I don’t know yet.
(Photo: Paulina)
In Polish:
Hili: Musimy walczyć z przeciwnościami losu.
Paulina: A z czym walczysz?
Hili: Jeszcze nie wiem.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)


From Seth Andrews, apparently his door sign:

From Merilee, an accurately named store (and what good is a bookstore without a cat?):

From Malcolm: an amazing feat of engineering:


A toot from God over at Mastodon:

From Masih: Physicians outside of Iran join in solidarity with a fellow doctor sentenced to die for protesting.

From Barry—a true believer finished the joke:

From Simon; Rachavi looks for tweets that are metaphors for academic science:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a boy dead at 19:

Tweets from Matthew, including a very weird Christmas card!:

Ah, the Darwin tree. I’ve put the original, taken from one of his notebooks, below this tweet:

Darwin’s first phylogenetic tree, positing the branching process of speciation and taxon formation:


Everything always turns out right in DodoLand. Here a nice man rescues a duckling and brings it up to adulthood.

31 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. Did anyone know : each ocean has a characteristic frequency spectrum?

    I saw it in a Veritasium video – the shape of the floor, and everything – they can calculate these things to design ships – undoubtedly (..?..) the spacecraft landings in oceans account for that… or maybe not, IDK…

    Here is the video : “Inside the Navy’s Indoor Ocean” :

  2. Oy! The NYT anxiety articles are behind a paywall-natch. Makes me more anxious that I cannot see them. But I surely agree that a certain amount of what I think is anxiety keeps scientists and engineers focused, but I do not know when that characteristic becomes pathological.

    I was, of course, really excited to see Artemis-1 complete what appeared to be a clean sweep in its mission. This was a really complex engineering problem and while we had kind of done it before, there were additional subtilties involving new technologies in materials and structures and guidance, navigation and control theoretical capabilities (like the skip maneuver on reentry that was needed and successfully used on this flight to land short of the original aimpoint to avoid stormy weather at splashdown site) that needed to be tested in a real world mission. To those who find human spaceflight a waste of money that could be better spent on robotic missions to get more science knowledge more quickly: if your metric is simply book knowledge of the universe, you are likely correct. But I would raise two issues, the first of which is simply that there are people who think basic science knowledge is a waste of resources…as many of us who have advocated for funding for basic research over the years can attest. Secondly, there are those who believe that human beings have a need to explore and expand the human footprint beyond Earth. The Russians seized on that goal and President Kennedy responded in kind to get Americans in orbit and onto the moon in the 1960’s. Human spaceflight is dangerous and difficult which makes it expensive (resource intensive) to carry out successfully. The recent NASA budgets are a fraction of the “wartime” level budget for Apollo and pretty equally split between human and robotic exploration with almost no dollars in aeronautics. Artemis is making do with recycling older, proven technologies (like its propulsion system) where possible and NASA provides the President and its funders in Congress with proposed budgets each year meant to carry out both research approaches.

    Thanks for the WEIT coverage, boss!

  3. Question for Mr. Batterson :

    How does NASA decide which time of year to launch to the moon?

    i.e. does it matter, since the moon completes one orbit around Earth in 30 days? Apollo 11 was July 16, 1969 – so, well, not near December.

    I can see the sunlit moon in the sky now in a position I rarely see it in other times of year – is this just ignoring all the times it is unlit, or is that angle relevant?

    Apologies for the clumsy written question – it is easier in conversation – so thank you.

    1. I am afraid that my very limited knowledge of NASA space operations comes from lunchroom and water cooler conversations with colleagues over the years (and a few general technical audience NASA lectures) so that I have no reliable answers that would withstand the scrutiny of a technical peer review. I worked on aeronautics for the most part, and The closest I got to space operations engineering was doing some space shuttle control law development work in the early 1980’s and that was for the atmospheric part of its flight. That said, I do have some informed opinions. I do not think it matters what time of the year you launch to the moon (as you note, the Apollo missions spanned the seasons) though the time of month and time of day may matter for a specific launch, if you want a certain area of the moon to be in sunlight when you arrive to land. Also, you might want to land on the side of the moon that faces Earth, as it appears there is no real-time data relay satellite from the comms blackouts we saw for Artemis. Weird. For deep space (other planets, moons, asteroids, etc) missions, time of year or more importantly planetary alignments are important if you plan to use one or more “gravity assist” maneuvers from our moon and/or other planetary bodies and moons or if you want shortest flight time.

      I am assuming that you are talking about seeing a sunlit moon in daytime, so just try to picture in your mind the geometry that allows for this: the sun is the only light source and it must be positioned so that you get some daylight on Earth’s surface at the same time that some or all of the side of the moon that always faces us gets its light. And remember the moon orbit around the Earth and the Earth orbit around the Sun are not exactly in the same plane which is why we do not have an eclipse every couple of weeks…only when the Earth, moon, and Sun almost perfectly align. So some lunar eclipse should extend to daylight with the sunlit moon visible….I think, but a good amateur astronomer reader can give you a better answer.

        1. When I was doing amateur astronomy in the 1980’s, I found an excellent, large format paperback book by Guy Ottewell called ‘The Astronomical Companion” to be extremely helpful with diagrams of much of the geometry of the solar system and galaxy. It was inexpensive then, but now is like 60 bucks from Amazon. However, Ottewell seems to have his own publishing through his website and sells it for 29.95. Url for book at that site is

          Hope this in not too late to get to you.

          1. I’ll look for it

            You know a book series I find good, especially the astronomy title as my go-to, is

            Bruce Thompson and Barbara Fritchman Thompson
            Illustrated Guide to Astronomical Wonders

            I think it is old, but Makermedia reprinted it?


            PS NightSky – super handy.

            1. Go to the link thatt i gave you to guy ottowell’s website and you can get it for 29.95. I looked at my 1983 copy last night and it was $12. So 29.95 is not bad…well worth it for this unique publication i think.

  4. …the four remaining World Cup teams have a rest, and practice their penalty kicks.

    Not a bad thing to do, I am sure. But as Neymar points out, God has His purpose and, no matter how hard you try, you may end up whacking the post, the bar, or some poor fisherman across the gulf in Taban. If God chose to send them home, as He does thirty-one teams of thirty-two for only one can win, it is because He knows their purpose in life. But practice one must because God tends to punish those who don’t.

    1. or some poor fisherman across the gulf in Taban

      So that’s where the ball from Harry Kane’s second penalty against France ended up!

  5. > 12/12/22—and in both the European and American style of writing dates.

    And 20221212 in the bigendian ISO-8601 date format I’ve seen in parts of Western and Eastern Europe. I never understood why people would have littleendian calendar dates and bigendian clock times. And then there is middleendianness…

  6. Today is the earliest sunset in the Northern Hemisphere, Sunsets start to creep later starting tomorrow. (Presumably why Santa Lucia Day in Sweden and other such Festivals of Light are tomorrow?)

    Otherwise, I never imagined that I’d ever read that a Libyan militia group had kidnapped someone in order to hand him over to the US.

    1. I think that our earliest sunset here at 37 degrees north was last week. Because I used to run a five-mile trail through the woods everyday after work, and had to change cloths and get out of the office so that I could be done and out of the woods by sunset, I was very aware of the date each year. It meant summer was sort of on the way and i could start to relax my end of office day timing. When I noticed that latest sunrise was a couple of weeks on the other side of winter solstice, the asymmetry got me to notice how orbital geometries were not perfectly aligned…like the direction of Earth polar axis tilt with apogee and perigee points of our solar orbit. Funny how all this solar system stuff is simplified in high school science class which skips over some really interesting stuff.

      1. Yes, earliest sunset (and latest sunrise) in the Northern Hemisphere does vary some with latitude. Miami had theirs the beginning of the month and they have already gained two minutes from the earliest. Yellowknife is still two days away from their earliest … at just after 3 in the afternoon! Around the June solstice, earliest sunrise and latest sunset coincide almost exactly.

        You can select a city and scroll down to play with the slider to get sunrise & sunset on any date. e.g.,

        I agree, it’s too bad this was not taught more thoroughly in high school.

          1. Indeed – now, if I follow: every day for the past year Ive been writing the sunrise/sunset on the fridge and I can tell it was slowing down, but one more than the other – little Easter eggs of life.

    2. Today it is very clear – the sunset time on my dry erase board hasn’t been changed for days, but sunrise has to be updated every day or so.

      Compare to about a month ago – they creep together by about a minute a day.

      Why is this again?

    3. A short note:

      At my latitude, it is the first time I had to update the sunrise from 7:08 to 7:09 since before this post. So 7:08 sas up there a while, sort of getting old.

      If that makes sense.

    4. … well, now I’m having to update sunrise more frequently – from 7:08 to 7:11 in the past ~5 days… while sunset now needs updating. Perhaps I’m just confused.

      I’m using the weather app on iOS.

  7. In ISO format, today’s date is 20221212 or 2022-12-12, a format I much prefer over both the American or European style of writing dates. I suppose we like the other formats because of our left-digit bias.

  8. > “. . . (and remember, asylum is considered a valid reason for immigration, but seeking economic improvement isn’t) . . .”

    That’s not correct. Anyone can apply from outside the United States to immigrate for economic improvement, same as for Canada. The people you want are the ones motivated realistically by economic improvement. The life goal of many ambitious talented Canadians with skills in high demand is to be allowed to immigrate to the United States. The lucky ones do. (The attraction for us, and for most other countries, is that we don’t have to pay income taxes to Canada when we are living abroad, only to the country we live in, even if we keep our citizenship.)

    What you can’t do is show up at the border (or sneak in) and then claim you want to stay to improve your economic situation. At the border, you can only request asylum. Under international law going back centuries, countries and kingdoms have to schedule all claimants for an oral hearing. Their claims are supposed to be adjudicated based on whether or not they have a genuine fear of persecution by (not just in) their home country, not whether the claimant will be of any economic benefit to you.

    But the asylum system is broken worldwide. The welfare state saw to that. It is used by people seeking economic advancement or free health care or education for their children or whatever who know that they will be allowed to disappear into the community of compatriots and probably get old and die there. The world is awash in poorly educated young men who have few economic prospects but unlimited capacity to make trouble. At some point they will arrive at the border of a rich country and make a claim for asylum.

  9. One addition to Da Nooz – PBS American Masters debuts The Adventures of Saul Bellow tonight. Explore Nobel Prize winner Bellow’s impact on American literature and how he navigated through issues of his time, including race, gender and the Jewish immigrant experience. Featuring interviews with Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie and others.

  10. You forgot the sour cream and apples for the ambrosia. I still love it as does half my family. And if marshmallows keep it from being a salad them the marshmallows in the horrid sweet potato casserole keeps iron being a dessert?

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