Monday: Hili dialogue

It’s Monday, June 20 (already so close to July?), and I hope that all the dads out there had some special noms and treats yesterday. It’s hot in Los Angeles: yesterday at 5 p.m. it was 98°F (37 °C). But it’s a dry heat and I didn’t find it oppressive. On this day in 1248, the University of Oxford (or “Oggsford”, as Meyer Wolfsheim called it in The Great Gatsby) received its royal charter. Wikipedia also notes that on this day in 1782, Congress adopted the Great Seal of the United States. This caused considerable difficulty since the Great Seal required a lot of fish, something not provided for by first U.S. budgets. On June 20, 1972, the infamous and still unresolved 18½ minute gap appeared in the Watergate tapes, supposedly due to an error by the White House secretary. And on this day in 1975, the summer blockbuster “Jaws” was released—one film I have seen.

Notables born on this day include Errol Flynn (1919), Eric Dolphy (1928), and musicians Brian Wilson (1942) and Anne Murray (1945). Those who died on this day include Bugsy Siegel (1947), and Erwin Chargaff (2002), who discovered the DNA “rules” that the amount of C equals the amount of G and the amount of T equals the amount of A: an early clue, unrecognized, that the structure of DNA involves C pairing with G and T with A. Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the staff’s loss is Hili’s gain, as she observes while strolling along the Vistula with Cyrus.

Hili: I don’t see any future for our cherries.
A: Why?
Hili: It seems we have a plague of starlings this year.

Hili: Nie widzę przyszłości dla naszych wiśni.
Ja: Dlaczego?
Hili: Wygląda na to, że mamy plagę szpaków w tym roku.

Up in Montreal, reader Anne-Marie has photographed the female squirrel who frequents her yard. This one is about as pregnant as they get, and is clearly enjoying the grape she was given. I predict a large litter!


And here is a very beautiful kitten from Bengal Cat World. Someday a kitten like this will be mine.



  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 20, 2016 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Lovely pictures today. Nearly 2 weeks of plus 90 weather here in the midwest and this is no dry heat. This is closer to Guam. First day of summer in case you want more heat.

  2. Posted June 20, 2016 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Wow, that Bengal kitten has amazing markings!

  3. mordacious1
    Posted June 20, 2016 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    “… the Great Seal required a lot of fish”.

    And no small amount of adhesive, which is important if the ship of state is to stay afloat.

    • Dominic
      Posted June 20, 2016 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      Don’t encourage him!

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted June 20, 2016 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        It’s a bit late for that. Several decades, probably.

    • rickflick
      Posted June 20, 2016 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      That’s why Duck Tape was invented in 1783.

      • mordacious1
        Posted June 20, 2016 at 9:22 am | Permalink

        They needed that to patch the quack in the Liberty Bell.

  4. David Duncan
    Posted June 20, 2016 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    “On June 20, 1972, the infamous and still unresolved 18½ minute gap appeared in the Watergate tapes…”

    There was a great cartoon of this. Nixon saying “Let me make myself Perf__________________ly clear.”

  5. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted June 20, 2016 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Now “Jaws” is one I haven’t seen uninterrupted, not intentionally. Now I can’t criticize the ones who say they haven’t seen “Jurassic Park”, “Star Wars”, … what else? “Raiders of the Lost Ark”? .. am I dating myself too clearly?

  6. Woof
    Posted June 20, 2016 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    “Someday a kitten like this will be mine.”

    Well that’s not gonna get it done, PCC(e)! It has to be more like this:

    “Someday a kitten like this will be mine. Mwahahahahaha!!!!”

  7. Frank Bath
    Posted June 20, 2016 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    As I read of Errol Flynn’s birthday the radio informed me has was a Tasmanian. How many famous Tasmanians can there be? Wiki notes he was American from 1942.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 20, 2016 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Are Tasmanians the antipodean Belgians?

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 21, 2016 at 3:19 am | Permalink

        What? You’re saying Tasmania is a little chocolate-making country where everybody drinks beer, eats chips drowned in mayonnaise, and wishes he were somewhere else? 🙂

        • Posted June 21, 2016 at 10:47 am | Permalink

          “I’m not a barbarian, I’m a Tasmanian!”

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted June 22, 2016 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

          Never having knowingy met a Tasmanian – I’m sure I’d be able to recognise one at 100 paces from your field guide.

  8. Rick
    Posted June 20, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    How did scientists figure out that the bases in DNA were C, G, T, and A?

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 20, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      Hmmm, bit of a non-sequiteur. But I’ll bite.
      (1) separate and purify your DNA. Obviously, but you do need to check these things.
      (2) Hydrolysis with either acid or bases (I’m not sure which – but one would give you a sludge and the other would give you a small (half-dozen or so) number of components (which you count by doing chromatography – you don’t identify them yet).
      (3) Then try “throwing down” one or other of the components in your mix by precipitating the mix with either acid or alkali. Check if the components you get behave the same chromatographically as the components you identified in stage (2). (In organic chemistry, you also have the possibility of separating the mixture into different immiscible solvents – I’m composing this scheme from a knowledge of inorganic analysis, but the process is comparable.)
      That’s about as far as I can go from first principles – you develop a procedure that will separate your mixture into the half-dozen or so major components, than for each separated an purified component you start looking for the functional groups (does it have the reactions of an amide? Does it have the reactions of an alcohol? …) until you’ve got a list of functional groups for each component.
      To put this into context, you’re possibly looking at a year or two of work for each component. More modern methods (the discoveries you’re talking about were made in the 1880s) would probably involve MS to give you molecular fragment data, and many of the functional groups you can identify by transmission/ absorption IR spectroscopy.
      Checking Wikipedia, I get this list of relevant papers from the main worker, who “identified the 5 nucleobases.” An 1881 paper talks of the “cleavage products” of nuclein ; in 1882, he’d got two components from his “cleavage products” ; by 1886 he had there to be “four nitrogenous bases” … but whether “nuclein” (what we now recognise as DNA, possibly mixed with some RNA,) was a distinct molecule or a polymer wasn’t clear even into the late 1920s.
      I’m sure there’s at least one book about it … This one probably covers the later parts of the research (the 3rd and 4th generations of researchers), but may cover some of the early fundamental research.

      • Rick
        Posted June 20, 2016 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for biting! The bit in the post about Chargaff’s discoveries was what prompted my question. Well, and I had been wondering about how scientists managed to pin down those 4 bases. I’m interested in the list that you give a link to, but all I see when I click it is the 200 or so footnotes. As well, the Amazon link didn’t work for me.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted June 20, 2016 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

          Matthew Cobb – one of the occasional spare pares of shoes who covers for Prof.CeilingCat when he’s prowling – recently wrote a book on the deciphering of the genetic code. Which is AFAICT post-Watson-&-Crick, but I’d expect that there’s at least an introductory half-chapter on the “wet chemistry” work between the identification of DNA (nuclein) and the work on it’s structure – which is where the interesting stuff lays.
          If nothing else, I’m sure that he has appropriate references, having given the subject rather more study than I have.

          • Rick
            Posted June 20, 2016 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

            Thanks for reminding me of Professor Cobb’s book. I will take a look. As well, thanks again for your answers.

            • Posted June 21, 2016 at 10:51 am | Permalink

              Prof. Cobb’s book is excellent. I flew through it.

  9. Posted June 20, 2016 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Correction, PCC(E)…. Someday a Bengal cat will be saying to you, “You are Mine!” ❤ 😀

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 20, 2016 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    On this day in 1248, the University of Oxford … received its royal charter.

    Parvenus! Cambridge got the royal-charter treatment in 1231.

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