Tuesday: Hili dialogue

Thanks to Grania for keeping the Hili dialogues going when I was in LA! Now I’m back in Chicago, and it’s Tuesday, January 17, 2017: National Hot Buttered Rum Day. There are no other national holidays of note.

On January 17,1912, Robert Falcon Scott reached the South Pole, only to find that Roald Amundsen had beaten him by one month and three days. Scott, of course, perished on his return, but alongside his body was a sledge of plant fossils that had been dragged by hand—fossils that proved that Antarctica had once been joined to other continents (see the story of Glossopteris in WEIT). On this day in 1929, Popeye the Sailor Man (who ate his spinach) first appeared in the comics. And on January 17, 1991, Operation Desert Storm began, launching the first Gulf War.

Notables born on this day include Benjamin Franklin (1708), Al Capone (1899), Betty White (1922; she’s 95 today), Eartha Kitt (1927), James Earl Jones (1931), Shari Lewis (1933), and Andy Kaufman (1949). Those who died on this day include John Ray (1705), the conjoined twins Chang and Eng Bunker (1874), Francis Galton (1911), Dougal Haston (1977), and Bobby Fischer (2008).

I am saddened to note the death yesterday of Eugene Cernan at 82; he was the last human to walk on the moon (there have been 12); his walk was in 1972, and I don’t know if we’ll see that feat again in our lifetime.  Here’s a trailer for a movie about him, “The Last Man on the Moon”. Note his wife’s comment at 0:45. (h/t: Michael).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Cyrus are still chafing about the weather, but there’s a lot of cold to come; Hili is making reference here to both the Paris conference and the Illiberal Leftism of the West.
Cyrus: The frost is coming back.
Hili: I don’t like these frosts from the West.
Cyrus: Znowu idą mrozy.
Hili: Nie lubię tych zachodnich mrozów.


  1. enl
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    I believe that with the passing of Gene Cernan, half of the humans that have ever walked on the moon re now deceased. Given the ages of those still living (youngest is 81), I would be surprised if more than one or two are still alive in five years.

    • George
      Posted January 17, 2017 at 7:55 am | Permalink

      You inspired me to look it up. Six of the twelve men to walk on the Moon have died.
      Deceased: Neil Armstrong (Apollo 11, died 2012), Pete Conrad (12, 1997), Alan Shepard (14, 1998), Ed Mitchell (14, 2016), Jim Irwin (15, 1991), Gene Cernan (17, 2017).

      Living: Buzz Aldrin (Apollo 11, age 86), A;an Bean (12, 84), David Scott (15, 84), John Young (16, 86), Charles Duke (16, 81), Harrison Schmitt (17, 81)

      • busterggi
        Posted January 17, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

        Clearly walking on the moon is fatal even if its a slow death.

  2. Scientifik
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    One more noteworthy event that took place on this day…

    • mordacious1
      Posted January 17, 2017 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      Today is also the 100th Anniversary of the interception of the Zimmerman Telegram which allegedly brought the US into WWI and had effects on all future code breaking operations.


      • mordacious1
        Posted January 17, 2017 at 3:55 pm | Permalink


      • Scientifik
        Posted January 17, 2017 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

        A signal achievement without a doubt, but it were the Polish cryptologists in the 1930s, who for the first time in history used mathematics (the theory of permutations) for code breaking and changed the game in the field forever.

  3. Posted January 17, 2017 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    And the World Series Champion Cubbies got to visit the White House!

  4. darrelle
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Gene Cernan was also the only person to go to the Moon twice. He was the Lunar Module pilot on the Apollo 10 mission which orbited the Moon but did not include a landing. Then he was the Commander of Apollo 17.

    • George
      Posted January 17, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      Jim Lovell also went to the Moon twice. First on Apollo 8 which was the first mission to the Moon in December 1968. Orbited but did not land. And then aboard the ill fated Apollo 13 which was supposed to land but went around the Moon and returned to earth after an explosion in the service module.

      • darrelle
        Posted January 17, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

        Thanks for the correction. Don’t know how I could forget about Lovell and Apollo 13.

  5. Jenny Haniver
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Reading that “alongside [Scott’s] body was a sledge of plant fossils that had been dragged by hand — fossils that proved that Antarctica had once been joined to other continents” was deeply affecting.

    When I was a young child, I wrote to Admiral Richard Byrd to ask if I could accompany him on one of his expeditions to Antarctica. One of his associates wrote back saying that they were sorry but they didn’t take little girls or women on their expeditions. I was crushed.

    And so Hilli doesn’t like frosts from the West. What’s her opinion of all those troops from the West now stationed in her country?

    • mordacious1
      Posted January 17, 2017 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      That sexist bastard…

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted January 17, 2017 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        Yeah. It’s great to know though that women are down there now, though it took a long time. However, he was not ageist, though I thought so at the time. Laughable to imagine a seven or eight year-old girl or boy, trekking across the ice, unless one was an Inuit or something, though at the time,warm and save in my parents’ So. Calif. house (heck we had to drive around 100 miles to find any snow in the winter), I felt supremely capable of facing every challenge.

  6. busterggi
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    It must be pointed out that while Popeye derived his strength from spinach, he got his invulnerability from rubbing the head of the magic wiffle hen.

  7. Posted January 17, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    About the feat: from what I can tell, the Chinese sure are trying. How far away are they? I don’t know. Somewhere I read in one respect it might actually be harder now, since people have stopped using as many custom circuits and use CPUs for everything, and since the latter are harder to shield …

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 17, 2017 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      There’s a whole industry of space hardened chips & memory e.g. BAE systems supplied the RAD750s for the Curiosity Rover which are a customised take on IBM’s PowerPC chips running at around 10% the speed we expect in home PCs. Price $200,000 per board!

      I read somewhere that large supercomputer on Earth had difficulties booting up due to cosmic ray events ‘bitflipping’ the memory – I assume it takes quite some time to boot up & initialise a large computer – thus ECC memory [error correcting code] is vital today

      The bottleneck with space operations today is the Earth comms bitrate, thus [where possible] data is cleaned up & compressed before sending to Earth – this requires a lot of computing power at the space end. I would suppose that any nation that builds & launches satellites will have the competence to operate a moon mission, although it might be a great temptation to use standard electronics in space for cheapness & cross ones fingers 🙂

  8. Xray
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Ben Franklin was born in 1706, not 1708. (From childhood reading, his birth date, as well as Washington’s and Jefferson’s, has stuck in my head.)

  9. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Trivia : Hot Buttered Rum is the group that performs and wrote the America’s Test Kitchen opening theme “Right Between My Eyes”as well as little transition music. It’s a great mandolin/upright bass/banjo/steel-string guitar/etc? group.

  10. Diane G.
    Posted January 18, 2017 at 2:22 am | Permalink


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