Tuesday: Hili dialogue

Gooday, mate! It’s Tuesday, September 26, 2017, and although the heat is abating in Chicago, we’ll still have a high temperature of 88° F (31° C) today—nearly 20° F above normal temperatures. (The last six days in Chicago have all set records for high temperatures.)

Also, I didn’t see my duck yesterday. Posting will be light today for two reasons 1). I have multiple tasks and 2). It’s one of those days when I don’t have much to say, and won’t afflict you with persiflage.

It’s National Pancake Day, and boy, could I use a stack with plenty of butter and maple syrup (I had a fast day yesterday—just one cup of coffee and water—and today I will EAT). It’s also National Good Neighbor Day in the U.S., so if you live next door to me, please bring me pancakes.

On September 26, 1580, Francis Drake finished his sail around the world. It was really the second circumnavigation of the Earth (do you remember who was in charge of the first one?), but in this case the captain was alive throughout the whole voyage. It took Drake three years, and here’s his route:

I still can’t fathom the mindset of someone who takes off into the great unknown for an indeterminate number of years, leaving everything behind and still likely to die on the voyage. The spirit of curiosity (and desire for wealth) is great. On this day in 1687, the Venetian army besieging the Ottoman Turks in Athens fired a shell that blew up an ammunition store in the Parthenon, one of the most culturally devastating rounds in history. I lived in Athens, and much regret that all we have left is the shell, with many of the sculptures residing (apparently permanently) in London.

On this day in 1905, Einstein published his first paper on the special theory of relativity, one of his three “Annus Mirabilis” papers. A friend told me yesterday that no scientific discovery ever comes out of nowhere: other people have always paved the way by having similar ideas (he was referring to Darwin and The Origin). I responded that Einstein’s work on relativity seemed to have no real predecessors; it was sui generis. 

On this day in 1942, as Wikipedia notes, “August Frank, a higher official of the SS concentration camp administration department, issues a memorandum containing a great deal of operational detail in how Jews should be ‘evacuated’.” This was an important document in the history of the Holocaust, and read the text on Wikipedia if you want to have your blood chilled. It all presumes, without saying, that the Jews won’t need their stuff any more. Here’s a bit:

b. Foreign exchange (coined or uncoined), rare metals, jewelry, precious and semi-precious stones, pearls, gold from teeth and scrap gold have to be delivered to the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office. The latter is responsible for the immediate delivery to the Reichsbank.

On this day in 1960, the first Kennedy-Nixon debate took place in Chicago. I watched it, and many think that Nixon’s poor performance (and appearance!) helped swing the election. Finally, on September 26, 1969, the Beatles released their album they recorded last “Abbey Road.” (Most of “Let it Be”, the last album released, was recorded earlier).

Notables born on this day include Johnny Appleseed (1774), Ivan Pavlov (1849), Winsor McCay (1867), T. S. Eliot (1888), George Gershwin (1898), Jack LaLanne (1914), and Olivia Newton-John (1948; her cancer seems to have recurred and it looks dire for her). Those who died on this day include Daniel Boone (1820), Levi Strauss (1902; I wear his invention daily), Bessie Smith (1937), George Santayana (1952), and Paul Newman (2008; I would have wanted to be him: talented, immensely handsome, and a truly nice and generous guy).  Here are the two handsomest actors of our time:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is being a curmudgeon:

Hili: Today’s youth!
A: What don’t you like about it?
Hili: Today’s youth is playing ball exactly like yesterday’s youth.
In Polish:
Hili: Dzisiejsza młodzież!
Ja: Co ci się nie podoba?
Hili: Dzisiejsza młodzież gra w piłkę tak samo jak wczorajsza.
Here are two tw**ts contributed by Dr. Cobb; I’m not responsible for the accuracy of this first one, but you should watch it

And Matthew’s favorite subject: spot the flounder! (This one is dead easy.)

Out in Winnipeg, Gus’s staff is having both of their bathrooms renovated, and of course that means strange people and noises in the house, always a disturbance for cats, as they don’t like their routine disrupted. Today have two videos of Gus’s reaction accompanied by notes from his staff member Taskin (indented):

The sink, bathtub and flooring were removed from the bathroom today. Gus is inspecting the work and sniffing all the tools. Notice the small hesitation as he approaches the hole in the floor.

Video #2. Fear of the hole has decreased, fascination with the hole has increased:

57 Comments

  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    “I had a fast day yesterday—just one cup of coffee and water”

    Bravo

    I know about Santayana – it’s fun when people show up as factoids but you know who they are – otherwise it gets lost in the flow.

    And the Drake thing – I like the long range theme on the Hili Dialogues of explorers – Darwin on the Beagle is part of that…

  2. Posted September 26, 2017 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Magellan.

  3. Randy schenck
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    I would think you refer to Magellan, the other global traveler. It has been said that Lewis and Clark’s trip back around 1804 was very much like the first trip to the moon.

  4. Stephen Barnard
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Einsten’s Special Theory of Relativity wasn’t quite sui generis. It depends crucially on the Lorentz transform, first derived by Hendrik Lorentz.

    • David Harper
      Posted September 26, 2017 at 6:54 am | Permalink

      And the Lorentz transformation was an attempt to explain the null result of the Michelson-Morley experiment.

      • Posted September 26, 2017 at 11:41 am | Permalink

        And it builds upon Maxwell’s stuff, and Hertz’ experiment. IMO, it is _general_ relativity that is really shockingly new.

        • Posted September 27, 2017 at 12:04 am | Permalink

          You can actually derive SR from Maxwell’s equations and Newton’s laws of motion. SR was there implicitly, but it took Poincare, Lorentz and Einstein to make it manifest.

          • Posted September 27, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

            An example where logical omniscience is a very poor idealization!

            I included Hertz’ experiment because it seems to me without it you can’t reliably interpret what the “wave” in question predicted by the constants in M’s equation is. (I’d have to see if Maxwell himself does the derivation that far, for example.)

    • Richard Bond
      Posted September 26, 2017 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Maxwell showed that the speed of light was constant, without any point of reference. His equations of electrodynamics, one of the greatest intellectual achievements of all time, also demonstrated the symmetry between an electric current inducing a magnetic field and a moving magnetic field inducing a current. From his 1905 paper, it is clear that Einstein took these results as his starting point, although the same paper shows that he was aware of the Michelson-Morley results. Einstein’s paper is available in English, is surprisingly easy to read, and it is well worth doing so.

      • Posted September 27, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        Actually, as far as I can tell (see above) Maxwell did something *almost* like that. He’s agnostic as to what the fields are *in* – now we know it is really nothing at all, though.

        This is why Michelson-Morley was done, after all.

        • Posted September 27, 2017 at 11:30 am | Permalink

          BTW, Maxwell’s two volume treatise is available in a Dover edition if anyone else wants to try to dig some of this stuff up.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted September 26, 2017 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      Before Al, there was Galilean relativity- the laws of motion are the same within any inertial frame, but it presupposes a universal time. The Lorentz transformations replaced the Galilean transformations. The Lorentz tranformation was formulated pre-Einstein to account for electromagnetism.

  5. Posted September 26, 2017 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    I can highly recommend Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World about his circumnavigation, alone, in his 36-foot sloop, Spray from April 1895 to June 1898.

    Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle is also excellent. As are Cook’s accounts of his voyages.

    • Richard Bond
      Posted September 26, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      Slocum’s book is on of my very favourites.

  6. David Harper
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    “I responded that Einstein’s work on relativity seemed to have no real predecessors; it was sui generis.”

    That’s not strictly true. The special theory of relativity arose from the null result of the Michelson-Morley experiment, which had sought to detect the movement of the Earth through the “luminiferous aether”, the hypothetical medium in which electromagnetic waves were believed to travel. No such movement could be detected, and that led, via the theoretical work of Lorentz and FitzGerald, to Einstein’s special theory of relativity.

    • dabertini
      Posted September 26, 2017 at 6:59 am | Permalink

      And what about Galileo’s work on relative velocities?

      • David Harper
        Posted September 26, 2017 at 7:13 am | Permalink

        Galileo was working with velocities far below that of light. In this low-velocity regime, it’s perfectly okay to add velocities: if you’re standing on a train travelling at 80 mph, and you fire an arrow forwards at 50 mph, an observer standing by the side of the railway track sees the velocity of the arrow as 80+50 = 130 mph.

        If your train is moving at 0.75 of the speed of light (not an Amtrak service, obviously!), and you shine a laser beam forwards, you might naively suppose the observer standing by the side of the track sees the laser beam travelling at 1.75 c. But she actually measures the speed of the laser beam to be 1.0 c. In this speed regime, you can no longer just add velocities as Galileo did.

    • Posted September 26, 2017 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      I stand corrected!!!!

      • Stephen Barnard
        Posted September 26, 2017 at 8:46 am | Permalink

        It seems remarkable that Lorentz himself didn’t formulate special relativity. He invented the math. Einstein’s genius was to take the implications of the constant speed of light in all inertial frames of reference seriously and to derive surprising (and true) conclusions.

        • stuartcoyle
          Posted September 27, 2017 at 1:25 am | Permalink

          It is remarkable, I think that Lorentz was coming at the problem by assuming the “pressure” of the luminiferous ether was responsible for the contraction of length. Of course that can’t explain dilation of time. He was not approaching the problem from the point of view that the ether did not exist at all.

          • Posted September 27, 2017 at 11:33 am | Permalink

            I’ve gotten the impression – but only that, since I haven’t read Lorentz’ work at all – that he was “more instrumentalist” than Einstein (one of the clearest expositors of realism amongst practicing scientists of the period) and didn’t think too much about that sort of thing. If so, that would be a good case (like that of Galileo) where part of the debate/historical dynamic was over the philosophy of science. (Galileo’s opponents’ philosophy of science of course was ideologically motivated, needless to say, but that’s irrelevant for noting its existence.)

  7. Blue
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Wholly do I concur in re the analysis of Mr Newman. I was but a newly minted teenager upon viewing thus … … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNdddrIe6dQ … … and him for my very first time.

    Within seconds, I fell in love.
    D e e e e p. Lifelong.

    When Me Newman died, a part of me did as well.

    Blue

    ps By now, I have seen everything in which he was featured.

    • Posted September 26, 2017 at 7:24 am | Permalink

      And … he was an excellent actor:

      The Sting
      Butch Cassidy
      The Verdict
      The Road to Perdition
      Cool Hand Luke
      The Hustler
      Hud
      Absence of Malice
      The Color of Money

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted September 26, 2017 at 8:59 am | Permalink

        Had a fairly talented wife as well.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 26, 2017 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        You got Hud and Hustler, but left off Hombre and Harper. For a spell in the Sixties, Mr. Newman had a string of hit movies beginning with the letter “H.”

        Among my favorites, I’d also have to add his turn as “Brick” in Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof opposite Liz Taylor’s lacy little slip. 🙂

        • Posted September 26, 2017 at 9:48 am | Permalink

          I’ve never seen Hombre or Harper. I need to fix that!

  8. dabertini
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Come on PCC(e)! No fasting and no LCD’s. Respect nutritional science.

    • Posted September 26, 2017 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      I’m doing this under a doctor’s supervision (a GOOD doctor), and if it doesn’t work, then I’ll abandon it. So far I have no side effects, except for a slight craving for food after normal lunch hours.

      Are you a doctor?

      • Posted September 26, 2017 at 9:46 am | Permalink

        Hi Jerry,

        Why is it recommended? I am genuinely curious. Nothing serious for you, I hope!

        • Diane G.
          Posted September 26, 2017 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

          I am curious, too.

      • dabertini
        Posted September 26, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

        I am not a doctor but studied nutritional science. Doctors are not trained in nutritional science. A good doctor should be sending you to a dietitian, IMHO.

  9. dabertini
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Yes, thanks. But is that not the whole idea behind the constancy of the speed of light? That you simply can’t add relative velocities when dealing with the speed of light, so something else must vary: time and distance are not absolutes. Which, of course, for the average person is preposterous.

  10. Posted September 26, 2017 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    I still can’t fathom the mindset of someone who takes off into the great unknown for an indeterminate number of years, leaving everything behind and still likely to die on the voyage.

    In the case of Francis Drake, it was the prospect of making a quick buck.

    His original mission was, what the Spanish would call state sponsored piracy. Elizabeth sent him off to capture Spanish treasure ships in the Pacific. Having wreaked a bit of havoc, he found it more convenient to continue Westward instead of retracing his route back past lots of angry Spaniards.

    • Posted September 26, 2017 at 7:30 am | Permalink

      Needless to say, when we did “The Great Explorers” in school when I was nine, the questionable legality of Francis Drake’s circumnavigation was suitably censored.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted September 26, 2017 at 9:30 am | Permalink

        The man was a complete a$$hole in real life. His behaviour on the doomed Portuguese expedition was appalling, for example. His #1 priority was enriching and glorifying himself.

        • Posted September 26, 2017 at 10:27 am | Permalink

          Another thing that was suitably censored – and which supports your point – is Drake’s actions during the Spanish Armada battle. When he was supposed to be coordinating the fleet at night, he instead extinguished the lantern that the other English ships were following and buggered off to loot a Spanish galleon that was rumoured to be carry large sums of money.

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted September 26, 2017 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

            Yes, he did! Too bad about his fellow countrymen – as long as he got rich.

            There are several small things too that can’t be proven now like arranging for riots in London so he could quell them.

  11. Fré Hoogendoorn
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    “I had a fast day yesterday”

    I had a bit of slow day myself.

  12. Art
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Re: jeans

    Pretty much all I have worn (other than a uniform) for 60 years or so. I do keep one pair of khakis for special occasions so my wife won’t yell at me.

  13. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Four. Einstein wrote four Annus mirabilis papers. Let me see if I remember:

    – Brownian motion (founded
    atomic and statistical physics both).
    – Photo-electric effect (founded quantum physics).
    – Special relativity (founded relativity physics).

    … oh ,well [/looks up the 4th paper]:

    – Mass-energy equivalence (founded nuclear physics).

    In each case, “grounded” is perhaps the better descriptor, since most had forerunners. (Especially atoms and their nuclei that had been evidenced by other means.)

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted September 26, 2017 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      I always wondered about what Einstein’s occupation prior to the big year was like – he was a patent clerk – isn’t that like saying nowadays his academic career was kaput?

      How could he publish single-author papers (yes?) without any… higher-ups … to shuffle things into place in the big publishing system? How could he have no competitors (yes?)
      I think these things contribute to the Einstein mystique…

      • Posted September 26, 2017 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        One gets the impression that working in the patent office bored him to tears, and so he started working on what interested him.

  14. Posted September 26, 2017 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    “August Frank, a higher official of the SS concentration camp administration department, issues a memorandum containing a great deal of operational detail in how Jews should be ‘evacuated’.” This was an important document in the history of the Holocaust, and read the text on Wikipedia if you want to have your blood chilled. It all presumes, without saying, that the Jews won’t need their stuff any more.

    If you can find it, I highly recommend DIE WANNSEEKONFERENZ

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088377/

    a dramatic recreation (down to the exact running time) of the infamous meeting, and very blood-chilling in how matter-of-factly the participants treated the liquidation of the Jews as a minor administrative matter.

  15. Posted September 26, 2017 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    That clip from BCATSK has a cameo (with Italian dubbing) in another of George Roy Hill’s films, the delightful A LITTLE ROMANCE.

  16. nicky
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    On 26 september 1983 lieutenant colonel Stanislav Petrov avoided a nuclear war by not reacting to alarms that showed several nuclear ICBM’s attacking the USSR, during a period of high tension. He considered that if the US would attack it would be with more than half a dozen missiles.
    It is doubtful his superiors would also have kept their cool.
    A courageous, great hero.

    • Robert Seidel
      Posted September 26, 2017 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      I saw him on stage 8 years ago, narrating that incident. He was perfectly modest about it – only doing my job, he said.

  17. docbill1351
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    The Drake voyage is a fascinating read. There are many books and Drake wrote an account of the voyage, himself.

    The “charter” for the voyage is still a secret. Did Queen Elizabeth commission Drake to raid Spanish ships for loot? If the voyage was planned then it was brilliant.

    Drake’s ship was armed. The Spanish ships on the Pacific side were not because the Spanish thought they were alone there. Once Drake moved up the west coast of South America he was a fox among chickens. He got so much loot his ship could barely navigate.

    Unlucky in the end, though, Drake managed to cross the Pacific missing every island along the way until he got to Indonesia. It was a miserable voyage home.

  18. lkr
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    The Venetians were besieging the Ottoman Turks in Athens. Undoubtedly there were Greeks in the Ottoman garrison, but they weren’t in charge, nor was there a Greek political entity for a couple more centuries.

  19. Diane G.
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    “How the earth will look in 250 million years…”

    Hey, good news! If you missed Pangaea the first time around, all is not lost!

  20. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Sir Francis Drake, through no fault of his own (but due perhaps to the fault of city planners), is responsible for a perennial source of tourist confusion in San Francisco.
    He did land in what is now Marin county, so he is honored around here.

    As a result, half a block from each other on opposite sides of the same street, we have both the Sir Francis hotel and the Saint Francis hotel (the latter of course being named after the English rendition of the fellow known in Spanish as San Francisco).

    Saint Francis Hotel:
    335 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94102

    Sir Francis Hotel:
    450 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94102

  21. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    My mother’s cousin was an undergrad drama major at Kenyan College at the same time as Paul Newman.
    The two co-starred in a play together, both in their junior year. A photo of the two of them on stage proudly hung in her kitchen all her adult life.

  22. Richard
    Posted September 27, 2017 at 3:21 am | Permalink

    Slept right through it, I’m afraid. I really need to get a better alarm clock.

    • Richard
      Posted September 27, 2017 at 3:22 am | Permalink

      Meant to be reply to 19!

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 27, 2017 at 3:45 am | Permalink

        😀

  23. Charles Sawicki
    Posted September 27, 2017 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    “A friend told me yesterday that no scientific discovery ever comes out of nowhere: other people have always paved the way by having similar ideas (he was referring to Darwin and The Origin). I responded that Einstein’s work on relativity seemed to have no real predecessors; it was sui generis. ”

    EInstein credited Lorentz as the greatest inspiration for his special theory which was originally called the Lorentz-Einstein theory. Years before the special theory, Lorentz had produced versions of his Lorentz transformation (still has the same name in relativity theory) as well as predicting the increase in mass of moving objects, length contraction and time dilatation. These were based upon no physical understanding of their origin (mathematical manipulations to solve problems in E+M and observations). Lorentz still believed in the aether and came up with bizarre explanations, for example, for the increase in mass of moving objects. Einstein’s genius was to use simple thought experiments that showed that the constancy of the speed of light (already implied by Maxwell’s equations) produced these results. So, the special theory was not without predecessors. Lorentz was one of Einstein’s strongest supporters in a time when many physicists thought that the General Theory was rubbish.
    For being sui generis the General Theory fits the bill, this one has essentially no predecessors and is one of the greatest leaps of imagination in the history of mankind. Again Einstein’s simple but brilliant thought experiments again played an important part.


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