Tuesday: Hili dialogue

Good morning! It’s October 11, 2016, and fall is coming on in the Northern Hemisphere, with the weather chillier but still perfect, at least in Chicago.  It’s also Ada Lovelace Day, a day to celebrate the achievement of women in science and technology. I’m surprised that Google didn’t make a Doodle about this. At the very least, go read about Lovelace (1815-1852), famous for producing the first computer “program” for Babbage’s analytical engine; she was also, and I didn’t know this, the only legitimate child of Lord Byron. She died tragically young—at 37, from uterine cancer. Here’s a portrait of her from Wikipedia, apparently painted shortly before her death: the caption says: “Painting of Ada Lovelace at a piano in 1852 by Henry Phillips. While she was in great pain at the time, she sat for the painting as Phillips’ father, Thomas Phillips, had painted Ada’s father, Lord Byron.”


It’s also National Coming Out Day for the LBGTQ community; “coming out” here means promoting awareness, not revealing your sexual identity. On this day in history, the Second Vatican Council was convened in 1962 and Saturday Night Live debuted in 1975 (it’s now 41!); I am proud to have seen the first show.

Notables born on this day include Eleanor Roosevelt (1884), Elmore Leonard (1925), my paleontological colleague Paul Sereno (1957), and Jane Krakowski (1968♥). Those who died on this day include Casimir Pulaski (1779), Chico Marx (1961), Jean Cocteau (1963), Dorothea Lange (1965) and Redd Foxx (1991). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the beasts engage in a very enigmatic dialogue. In fact, even Malgorzata can’t explain it to me, though she tried:

Don’t ask me what it means. When I ask I only get malicious giggling from Andrzej, Hili and Cyrus. It seems to be a discussion of two deep pessimists who do not need many words to complain about the awful state of everything.

These are apparently Jewish mammals.

Here’s the dialogue, which resembles “What is the frequency, Kenneth?”

Hili: Does it register with you, Cyrus?
Cyrus: Oh yes, Hili, more and more often.
In Polish:
Hili: Zdajesz sobie z tego sprawę, Cyrusie?
Cyrus: Oj tak, Hili, co raz częściej.
And from reader jsp, some advice as Halloween approaches:


  1. Dominic
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    The ground there looks incredibly dry – we have had blocking highs over Scandinavia & London has been pretty dry…

  2. barael
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    The designation “first computer programmer” in regards to Ada Lovelace has always been a bit odd since it implies that Babbage managed to design a working, programmable machine without knowing how to program one.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 11, 2016 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      Well, Ada Lovelace and Babbage collaborated extensively, and one or the other was the first programmer. Depending how you interpret ‘programmer’. See the Wikipedia page.


    • Flemur
      Posted October 11, 2016 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      Good catch.

      The Wiki article clearly says that she wasn’t the first programmer:

      “All but one of the programs cited in her notes had been prepared by Babbage from three to seven years earlier. ”

      “…there is no evidence that she advanced the design or theory of it in any way”.

      “Babbage wrote the initial programs for his Analytical Engine, although the majority were never published. Bromley notes several dozen sample programs prepared by Babbage between 1837 and 1840, all substantially predating Lovelace’s notes.”


      It’s also National Coming Out Day for the LBGTQ community…means promoting awareness

      Is there something that the general public is unaware of?

      • Flemur
        Posted October 11, 2016 at 8:40 am | Permalink

        “All but one of the programs …”

        That one program might sound like the exceptional program which she wrote first, so here’s the rest of the quote:

        “The exception was prepared by Babbage for her, although she did detect a ‘bug’ in it. Not only is there no evidence that Ada ever prepared a program for the Analytical Engine, but her correspondence with Babbage shows that she did not have the knowledge to do so.”

        I consider Joseph Marie Jacquard to be the first programmer. He also invented the punch-card, for which, as anyone who has dropped of box of them will agree, he should be vilified.

        • JonLynnHarvey
          Posted October 11, 2016 at 10:38 am | Permalink

          She’s arguably the first woman to understand the concept of computer programming- running a definite algorithm through manipulation of symbols- but whether she developed one of her own remains doubtful.

          She did anticipate computer-composed music on her own, but it seems to have been largely speculation on her part.

          The computer language ADA is named after her.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted October 11, 2016 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

            I think that’s a fairer summation.

            Certainly if she spotted a bug in one of Babbage’s programs, she understood programming.


      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 11, 2016 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

        That is quoting from the paragraph headed ‘Controversy over extent of contributions’ – i.e. the ‘anti’ view. The rest of the article – and presumably most of the many references it links to – give a different picture.


    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted October 11, 2016 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      it implies that Babbage managed to design a working, programmable machine without knowing how to program one.

      Much hare-splitting.
      Not coincidentally, I got an email a couple of days ago from a group trying to build a working version of the Analytical Engine. They’ve spent much of the last year nose deep (inhale gently!) in trying to work out exactly what logical, notational and mathematical designs Babbage and Lovelace were using.
      TL;DR version – it’s still not particularly clear exactly what Babbage and Lovelace were talking about. For example, was the Analytical Engine intended to handle array calculations or not – which is non-trivial from a machine-code programming point of view.

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Speaking of SNL, have you seen Alec Baldwin’s impression of Donald Trump? Brilliant!

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted October 11, 2016 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      No, because all the links I’ve seen won’t play in NZ!

  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Hey, deep pessimist from time to time and not even Jewish?

  5. Posted October 11, 2016 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Since both Hili and Cyrus address each other by name and are agreeing, they must be feeling their friendship. They are both on Kenneth’s frequency.

  6. rickflick
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    The Department of Defense sponsored the development of a new language – named after Ada Lovelace – “Ada”. I worked with the language in the 1980’s. The latest version is Ada 2012. It is a large and complex language designed to be used across the defense industry to replace many language then in use by a single language. The goal was to promote reuseability of code modules.

    • rickflick
      Posted October 11, 2016 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      Here by the way is a sample of Ada code defining the type – “date”. Note the carefully designed syntax elements which are designed to reduce coding errors:

      type Day_type is range 1 .. 31;
      type Month_type is range 1 .. 12;
      type Year_type is range 1800 .. 2100;
      type Hours is mod 24;
      type Weekday is (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday);

      type Date is
      Day : Day_type;
      Month : Month_type;
      Year : Year_type;
      end record;

      I wonder if this is the first instance of code published in WEIT.

      • Posted October 11, 2016 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        Yikes. Looks worse than Pascal. Do you have an example of an actual calculation?

        • rickflick
          Posted October 11, 2016 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

          I grabbed this example from Wikipedia which has several more with arithmetic operations:


          Pascal is an Algol like language and was designed around the need for error avoidance for critical applications like air traffic control systems, etc. It appears to be wordy, especially for someone from a background in C++. Ada is almost self documenting and is easy to read and review. It contains many error checking features embedded in the language definition.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 11, 2016 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

        “I wonder if this is the first instance of code published in WEIT.”

        Probably not, though I can’t recall any specific instances. But I’m sure snippets must have been posted before in the course of rambling discussions, even if only
        10 PRINT “HELLO WORLD”
        20 GOTO 10


  7. Walt Jones
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Alas, it registers with me, too.

  8. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    I considered Ada Lovelace as a possible “write-in” candidate for the last posting, but choked on the answer because … well, Linda and the Case of the Misplaced Clitoris.

  9. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    I’m surprised that Google didn’t make a Doodle about this.

    They did, on Ada’s birthday in 2012.

  10. Posted October 13, 2016 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    I first learned of Ada Lovelace when reading Walter Isaacson’s excellent book, The Innovators, where I think she gets an excellent write up and credit.

    She clearly was a powerful thinker.

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