Monday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on Monday, September 4, 2017. It’s a cold and overcast day in Dobrzyn, and may be like this for much of the week.  I slept about ten hours last night, which must be some sort of record, but given that I’d had only about an hour’s sleep in the previous 36 hours, it’s understandable. In the U.S. it’s a holiday—Labor Day—and one celebrated with a Google Doodle:

I woke up to find that North Korea says it’s exploded a hydrogen bomb—a dubious claim, but still a nuclear weapon. Where will World War III start: with the DPRK’s nukes or Iran’s future nukes? Trump’s response was to rebuke South Korea:

“North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success,” he said. “South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!”

Let us hope that that “one thing” is a complete trade embargo rather than military force, although even the U.S.’s threat to suspend trade with any country doing business with the DPRK won’t work because we depend too much on China, and because China benefits too much by having on its border a country hostile to the U.S.

Oh, and now Trump is poised to end the “dreamers” program that allows children who came illegally to the U.S. to remain without deportation. I had thought he’d do otherwise, for the program is popular, and it’s simply cruel to begin deporting these people. But he’d rather wreck lives than alienate his “base”.

On more mundane issues, it’s National Macadamia Nut Day, the world’s most delicious nut (cashews are second). It’s indigenous to Australia but mostly grown in Hawaii, and (fun fact!) was named, according to Wikipedia, by “German-Australian botanist Ferdinand von Mueller”. . . “ in honour of the Scottish-Australian chemist, medical teacher and politician John Macadam.”  A truly international nut! It’s also International Newspaper Carrier Day, celebrating a dying breed of child labor. How many readers delivered newspapers as a child?

On this day in 1781, Los Angeles was founded by a small group of Spanish settlers as as “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora La Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula” (“The village of Our Lady, the Queen of Angels and Porcupines”). On September 4, 1882, Thomas Edison flipped the switch that started the operation of the first commercial electrical power plant, an act that immediately lit up a square mile of lower Manhattan. Wikipedia says that this was the day that “began the Electrical Age.” On this day in 1957, governor Orval Faubus of Arkansas called out the National Guard to prevent nine black students from entering Central High School after the Supreme Court had deemed segregated schools illegal. Faubus’s reprehensible action was later overturned by President Eisenhower, who gave the students federal protection.  On the same day, the Ford Motor Company introduced the car that’s become iconic for “failed brands,” the Edsel, whose grille has been described as “a Mercury sucking a lemon”:


1957 Mercury:

On this day in 1985, Robert Curl, Harold Kroto and Richard Smalley created buckminsterfullerene (C60), a spherical carbon molecule shaped like a soccer ball. For this feat the three were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 11 years later.

Notables born on this day include geneticist Max Delbrück (1906), Richard Wright (1908), Stanford Moore (1918), Mitzi Gaynor (1931) and Jacqueline Hewitt (1958). Those who died on this day include Albert Schweitzer (1965), William Kunstler (1995) and Joan Rivers (2014). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and I have reunited:

Jerry: I have not seen you for a whole year!
Hili: I could not wait for a meal together.
In Polish:
Jerry: Nie widziałem cię przez cały rok!
Hili: Też nie mogłam się doczekać na kolejny wspólny posiłek.

Here’s a tw**t, contributed by Matthew Cobb, documenting nonviolent cat violence:

And I’ve stolen this one from Heather Hastie’s daily tw**ts:


  1. Hempenstein
    Posted September 4, 2017 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Cool! A ’58 Edsel convertible makes WEIT! True confessions: my first automotive heartthrob was a ’58 Edsel convertible, but I like the slightly smaller Pacer model better – the one shown here is the top-of-the-line Citation.

  2. Randy schenck
    Posted September 4, 2017 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    I was one of those paperboys. Although I must say I did not do it for long, less than a year. Back then the money was almost nothing and you had to collect from each house. It was a joke.

    I will have to look it up but thought they attempted the Edsel for two years. One of the big deals on the Edsel, I think, was the push button transmission. No one liked that either.

    • John Conoboy
      Posted September 4, 2017 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      I delivered papers as a kid too. Not to many ways we could make money and this was a good one. In the winter, we would go shovel drives. The key to success was to go into the areas with more expensive houses as the folks there usually paid better.

      My father had a car with a push button transmission. I think it was some type Chrysler and it also had big tail fins. Wish I had that car now.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted September 4, 2017 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        Yes, for some reason, after Edsel came up with the push buttons in the wheel, others thought they could do well by putting it on the dash. Still was not a good idea. My first car is one that not many know about, as far as transmissions go. The fluid drive transmission. You had a clutch but you could use it, or not use it. Like I said, not too many have heard of that one.

        • Hempenstein
          Posted September 4, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

          So you had a Chrysler product from the ’40s or early ’50s. Right?

  3. George
    Posted September 4, 2017 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Jerry – have you learned Polish just to speak to Hili?

  4. Stephen Barnard
    Posted September 4, 2017 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Today that Edsel Citation convertible in primo condition would fetch something north of $60K.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted September 4, 2017 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      And yet, back then, nobody wanted to fetch it. I was wrong above on the two years, it was actually three – 1958 to 1960. Those were kind of ugly years for chevy and ford.

      • Hempenstein
        Posted September 4, 2017 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

        I agree. But I think a majority of people who had never seen the FoMoCo lineup for ’60 would agree that the Edsel was the most handsome of the four. Pity they killed it so soon in the run. Robert McNamara was largely responsible.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 4, 2017 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

          Aesthetics are obviously subjective.

          That’s all I’m going to say.


    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted September 5, 2017 at 1:04 am | Permalink

      Ford was heavily involved in racing in the 60s. Partnering with Carroll Shelby, they dominated short track racing with the Cobras, and then the ovals with the Daytona Coupe. They capped their total domination of Ferrari by winning Le Mans (widely considered the ultimate 24-hour test)four times, 1966-1969, with the GT40. You can buy a modern and far superior street-legal version of this car from Ford for about a half a million dollars.

  5. jay
    Posted September 4, 2017 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    The term ‘child labor’ has a nasty ring to it, I think there should be forms of limited employment open to youngsters… 16 or 18 is far too late to learn responsibility.

    For most of human history, especially in the agricultural world, child labor was the norm. It’s only modern industrialization that made it even possible to support families of children without them pitching in.

    • Kevin
      Posted September 4, 2017 at 7:57 am | Permalink

      I agree about the responsibility. But kids (5-18) can be quick learners.

      Just because they do not practice responsibility does not mean they are not responsible or can be.

      Teaching them manners and reinforcing the idea that self-discipline is essential will go further than making them work at an early age.

      Better to focus one’s ability on science, speech and debate, or athletics than be a barista at Stabucks or lifeguard or McDonald’s clerk. Not that being any one of those things is not bad either…plus nowadays some organizations supplement college.

      • jay
        Posted September 4, 2017 at 8:53 am | Permalink

        “Just because they do not practice responsibility does not mean they are not responsible or can be.”

        Far to many kids come into college with no sense of responsibility. What better way to learn responsibility than actually getting paid. Learning to schedule your life around responsibilities, practicing deferred gratification, understanding that not everything comes free from mommy and daddy, and appreciating what others need to go through, are lessons that can only be learned by real world experience.

        “Better to focus one’s ability on science, speech and debate, or athletics than be a barista at Stabucks or lifeguard or McDonald’s clerk. ”

        It’s not either/or. A lot of highly successful people from previous generations worked at an early age, and will openly credit that experience for part of their success.

      • Posted September 4, 2017 at 11:07 am | Permalink

        Children can and should learn responsibility at young ages in the home and with relatives and neighbors. Even quite young kids can help with laundry, dishes, cleaning up.

  6. davidintoronto
    Posted September 4, 2017 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Labor Day (Labour Day!) is celebrated in Canada too. But for some reason, our Google Doodle is about the Russian “Trololololo” internet meme fellow. ???

  7. rickflick
    Posted September 4, 2017 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    I can see that being with Hili has dulled the heartache left behind at Botany Pond.

  8. Julian C
    Posted September 4, 2017 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Not porcupines. Porciúncula was the original name of the Los Angeles River, named after a church dear to the Franciscans. See full story in Wikipedia:
    (The Spanish for “porcupine” is “puercoespín”)

    • Posted September 4, 2017 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      It was a JOKE.

      • Posted September 4, 2017 at 11:09 am | Permalink

        Ah. I misinterpreted it as poor translation. Good to know.

      • Stephen Barnard
        Posted September 5, 2017 at 12:51 am | Permalink

        The porcupine reference definitely caught my attention. Everyone knows that the range of the North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) doesn’t include Los Angeles.


    • Diane G.
      Posted September 5, 2017 at 12:41 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Julian, I was wondering what the real story was. 😀

  9. Jim batterson
    Posted September 4, 2017 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Wrt buckminsterfullerenes, a note that sir harry kroto who died just last year, was a wonderfull supporter of k-12 education. I met him in 2009 when he came to the town of danville, va to speak about nanotechnology to 125 middle and high school teachers from rural southside virginia. His presentation was wonderful, perfectly pitched for the audience and also technically very strong. He was very gracious in making a huge trove of video material freely available via the web and engaging the teachers in informal didcussions throughout the day. i continue to point to that day as an example of the tremendous value and impact that emeritus university faculty can have in their area of expertise.

  10. Hempenstein
    Posted September 4, 2017 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    General ? in re. this trip. Is it also for book writing, lecturing, or exclusively for general relaxation and catching up on reading?

    If there’s a reading component, recommend Nick Lane’s The Vital Question. Maybe M&A have a copy.

  11. Hempenstein
    Posted September 14, 2017 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    At one time in biochemical research circles Stanford Moore and William Stein were so well known (for amino acid analysis) that “Moore and Stein” was nearly one word. A colleague who knew them once told the story that someone came running up to Moore to shake his hand and said, “Oh, I’m so happy to meet you Dr. Moorenstein!”

  12. Hempenstein
    Posted September 14, 2017 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Oh, and Moore apparently had quite patrician manners. He kept a china set in the lab that saw service for lab festivities.

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