Friday: Hili dialogue

It’s Friday, December 16: exactly two shopping weeks before the birthday of Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus). It is also, according to the Foodimentary Site, National Chocolate Covered Anything Day, and I think that most of us can manage to celebrate that appropriately. It’s also the Day of Reconciliation in South Africa, which ended apartheid not by mass slaughter, but with peace, contrition, and forgiveness. Would this be possible in today’s world?

On this day in 1942,  SS chief Heinrich Himmler ordered the Nazis to begin exterminating the Romani people (“gypsies”) in Auschwitz.  Exactly five years later, William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain built the first practical point-contact transistor at the Bell Laboratories. In 1956 all three received the Nobel Prize in Physics. (How many of you remember transistor radios? I used to listen to mine under the covers with an earphone, escaping detection by the parents.) And on December 16, 1991, Kazakhstan declared independence from the USSR.

It was a good day for writers, artists, and musicians: notables born on this day include Ludwig van Beethoven (1770), Jane Austen (1775), Wassily Kandinsky (1866), and Nöel Coward (1899). Others born on December 16 were Margaret Mead (1901), Arthur C. Clarke (1917), Philip K. Dick (1929), and Liv Ullman (1938). Those who died on this day include Elinor Wylie (1928) and Dan Fogelberg (2007). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is about to have what the Poles call “second breakfast”:

Hili: I contemplate the passing of time.
A: But I would like to sit on this chair.
Hili: There is no conflict. It’s been an hour since breakfast, I’m going to the kitchen.
In Polish:
Hili: Kontempluję przemijanie czasu.
Ja: Ale ja chętnie usiadłbym na tym fotelu.
Hili: Nie ma kolizji, minęła godzina od śniadania, idę do kuchni.
D*g lagniappe: In snowy Montreal, Linux Bernie (aka “the Cadet”), staffed by Claude and Anne-Marie, is looking forward to his next romp in the snow. I think, however, he needs a shave!


  1. Linda Calhoun
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Aaahhh. The Great Arthur C. Clarke.

    My favorite ACC quote: “If God it talking to all these people, why is he telling each one of them something different?”


    • Peter N
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      Great quote, but I couldn’t find the source on Google — do you know where he said it?

      • Linda Calhoun
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

        I honestly don’t remember. I thought it was from an interview. L

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      I don’t know that quote – is it something he said on the radio perhaps?

  2. Posted December 16, 2016 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    “How many of you remember transistor radios? I used to listen to mine under the covers with an earphone, escaping detection by the parents.”

    I think everyone in a certain age range did the same! I did! I started out on a crystal radio that I built myself however. (My Dad was an electrical engineer.)

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      As a kid I lived a quarter mile from the local AM radio station’s transmitter. Pretty much any audio circuit I put together worked as a radio receiver, whether I wanted it to or not.

      Transistor radios still exist, of course, and if you live in earthquake or hurricane country, your household should have one for emergencies.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      In those days, transistors were so expensive that commercial radios used to advertise ‘five transistors’ or even incorporate the number of transistors in the product name like ‘Hermes Nine’.

      Some economy circuits, as I recall, used to feed the signal through the same transistor two or even three times – once as the RF signal, which would then be converted down by the usual circuitry to IF, fed through it again, then further converted down to AF (audio frequency) and fed through the transistor yet again for is final stage.
      (Or something like that, my memory is hazy).


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      One great advance on those days has been the development of the Walkman / mp3 player with *headphones* or earbuds. No longer is public space made hideous by tinny transistor radios or ghettoblasters, the worst we have to contend with now is headphone leakage.


      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

        Early transistor radios had earphones. Here’s one from circa 1962.

        The Walkman innovation was the lack of a built-in speaker.

  3. Steve Pollard
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    In the UK it is also Christmas Jumper Day: All in a good cause (for the charity Save the Children); but seeing grown men and women wearing garish sweaters with fluffy Rudolphs and flashing-light Santas in Sainsbury’s at 8.15 this morning was a helluva shock to the system!

  4. rickflick
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Arthur C. Clarke (1917). A gem of a storyteller. 2001 a Space Odyssey, released in ’68, is his tale, of course, directed by Stanley Kubrick. It had a big impact on me. I was enthralled by space and astronautics. Apollo 11 landed on the moon in July of ’69. What a time to be alive!

  5. Mike McCants
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    My father and I built a Heathkit short-wave radio with five tubes before the time that transistors were available. Apparently it was an AR-2 or an AR-3 version. This dates from 1954 to 1956. It actually worked quite well with a “long wire” antenna.

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