Wednesday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on a hump day: Wednesday, November 29, 2017. Only one more day to go until December! It’s National Chocolates Day, a comestible I will gladly receive from grateful readers. And in Liberia it’s William Tubman‘s birthday, a holiday honoring the founder of modern Liberia.

There is further news from North Korea, which has now successfully launched an ICBM capable not only of hitting anywhere in the US, but anywhere in the world. Although Trump says the U.S. will “take care of it,” the fact is that we can’t, and, if we’re not stupid, we won’t. As I’ve said before, there’s no solution save accepting the DPRK as a nuclear power. The country’s development of missile technology has been remarkably fast, and we’re stuck with it. Now there are two madmen with their hands on the button.

In lighter news, there’s a Google Doodle today, celebrating the life of Gertrude Jekyll, a British horticulturalist and writer who designed hundreds of gardens in the UK and was enormously influential in Blighty garden design. I had never heard of her, but the Brits do love their gardens, and I wonder how many readers in Britain know her name. Jekyll was born on this day in 1843 and died in 1932; here’s her  lovely Doodle. You can read more about her at The Independent

Not much happened on this day in history. On November 29, 1877, Thomas Edison first demonstrated his phonograph, and in 1929 American Admiral Richard E. Byrd’s expedition became the first to fly over the South Pole. And for you gamers, it was on this day in 1972 that Atari released Pong, which went on to become the first successful video game.

Notables born on this day include John Ray (1627), Louisa May Alcott (1832), Busby Berkeley (1895), C. S. Lewis (1898↓), Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (1898), Billy Strayhorn (1915), Diane Ladd (1935), and Joel Coen (1954). Those who started their Big Nap on this day include Thomas Wolsey (1530), Hans Holbein the Younger (1543), Giacomo Puccini (1924), Natalie Wood (1981), and Cary Grant (1986). Holbein the Younger is of course famous for his portrait of Henry VIII, done in 1540. As far as I can see, he painted no cats.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili, busy reading,  gets in a dig at her amiable but illiterate pal:

Cyrus: I’m bored.
Hili: I’m not surprised.
In Polish:
Cyrus: Nudno mi.
Hili: Nie dziwię się.

This tw**t was sent by Matthew, who deems everyone in it, including the pilot, “insane.” I disagree; I claim they’re “adventurous”:

And several others from Dr. Cobb, including Lynx Love:

A tiny porcupine nomming a banana:

And Brian Cox is messing with his cat Herschel again:



  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    As a curmudgeon of many of the more recent Google Doodles, this one I must say is Great.

    I’ll leave it at that.

  2. BobTerrace
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    I would be willing to bet that North Korea did not develop nuclear power and missiles to carry them by themselves. I believe either Russia or China gave them the technology necessary.

    • David Duncan
      Posted November 29, 2017 at 7:08 am | Permalink

      I’d bet that it was Iran who “helped”, in exchange for something.

      • darrelle
        Posted November 29, 2017 at 7:24 am | Permalink

        In many ways Iran does seem plausible. But Iran has not developed ICBMs with global range themselves. It is always possible that NK had help from more than one source. Neither Russia or China would surprise me. I can definitely see Putin having a hand in this. Seems right up his alley.

    • darrelle
      Posted November 29, 2017 at 7:21 am | Permalink

      I think so too. Neither nuclear weapons or ICBMs capable of reaching any where on the globe are easy. It seems very improbable that they did this with out a lot of help from someone.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted November 29, 2017 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        Why do they need to have had a lot of help?
        There is doubtless much information available on the Internet, not to mention espionage.
        NASA, the European Space agency, and the Russian space program (to name just three) have been putting rockets into space for years.

        Now all sorts of countries are putting stuff into space – New Zealand being the latest one – and once you’ve solved the problem of putting something into orbit, or docking with the ISS, it seems to me the problem of landing your rocket at some specified point (give or take a hundred miles or so) on the other side of the earth is pretty much solved. It makes no difference to the rocket whether the payload is a satellite or an astronaut or a bomb.


        • darrelle
          Posted November 29, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

          Yes. Look at how many organizations have put stuff in space. New Zealand may soon have the capability of putting micro-sats in low Earth orbit. How do North Korea’s resources look compared to New Zealand’s? The US’s? Europe’s? China’s? Japan’s? Russia’s? India’s?

          Rockets are dead simple in concept. Much more difficult to turn them into real, reliable machines. It’s expensive and it takes time to develop the expertise. Could NK have developed ICBMs with 5,500 + KM range all by themselves? Sure, it’s possible. Given the history of rocket development it doesn’t seem likely. I must admit I am also influenced by supposed experts. Many are of the belief that North Korea is reliant on outside sources for key components.

    • Frank Bath
      Posted November 29, 2017 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      I can see why China or Russia are happy to aid and play North Korea as a wild card in their back yard. At no cost to them it makes nothing but problems for the USA.

  3. Posted November 29, 2017 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    I have read a book by her – Old West Surrey – makes me think of a great great grandma who was a midwife in Guildford & who looked like the old ladies illustrated…

  4. Christopher
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    That’s one helluva schnozz on that little porcupine! Adorable.

  5. Laurance
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Oh, those wingsuits! I’ve always had fantasies about being able to fly, especially when I was a little kid! I’m too old and too awkward to be able to fly in a wingsuit, but I sure love good videos!

    • nicky
      Posted November 29, 2017 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      It is a horrible appropriation of flying squirrels and sugar gliders! Sies! (as they say here). Shame on them!

  6. Alan Clark
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Holbein died in 1543, so I suspect the painting was done in 1540, not 1840.

  7. David Duncan
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    “Now there are two madmen with their hands on the button.”

    Only two?

    Seriously, I don’t think either Trump or Kim is mad. And the west should prepare for an attack but not launch one. Just ignore him. Developing nukes and ICBMs is one thing, mating them into a reliable weapon is another.

  8. Posted November 29, 2017 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    John Ray – deserves celebrating. He is perhaps the first modern English naturalist.

  9. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    I see Trump as the far more dangerous person is this show. The only thing crazier than those guys in the wingsuits could do is jump off the mountain with no parachute. Notice the pilot has to put the plane in a pretty good dive with flaps on to match speed.

    Notice this morning – Matt Lauer is the next rich guy to lose his job for sexual harassment in the work place.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted November 29, 2017 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      I don’t like the idea of a nuclear NoKo anymore than the next guy or gal. But sooner or later (and it sure seems like sooner) the Donald’s gonna hafta grit his teeth, hike up his skirt, lie back & think of England while Little Kim goes full-on ballistic.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 29, 2017 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      I think the dive is more to match the glide angle of the wingsuits, which fly pretty much like a brick.


  10. Hempenstein
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    How many cameras, and carried by what sorts of devices, did they have on that wingsuit duo?

    • Frank Bath
      Posted November 29, 2017 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      I’ve often thought the camera people are taking more risk than their subjects. Who are these heroes?

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted November 29, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Looks like the wingsuiters have dual helmet cams aimed fore and aft, and the catcher plane has fixed nose, wing, and tail cams. Beyond that I think one additional aircraft can account for all the footage we see.

      As far as safety goes, I think Matthew has it right and the catcher crew is taking the biggest risk, since they’re flying with the door propped open and are committed to maintaining that steep dive until both wingsuiters are aboard.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted November 29, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

        “are committed to maintaining that steep dive until both wingsuiters are aboard.”

        Well, not necessarily. I imagine if one of the wingsuiters failed to make it in time he could just land in the normal way. They are wearing parachutes.

        The plane, of course, is a Pilatus Turbo Porter, built like a barn door and able to fly very slowly, even in a steep dive. I think the reason for the spectacularly steep dive was to match the gliding angle of the wingsuits.

        Still a spectacular stunt.


      • Posted November 29, 2017 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        Additional aircraft? Can’t they have used drones?

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted November 29, 2017 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

          Drones fit my definition of aircraft, but whether a remotely controlled drone could keep station with the diving catcher plane I’m not qualified to say.

          • Posted November 29, 2017 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, that crossed my mind as soon as I posted it. (Speed of the drone, I mean.)

  11. Posted November 29, 2017 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Watching the wingsuit men it reminded me of the movie: ” Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 Hours 11 Minutes.

  12. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    It’s National Chocolates Day, a comestible I will gladly receive from grateful readers.

    Got room for 50,000 Whitman Samplers?

  13. Jake Sevins
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    I’ve wanted to trying wingsuit base, but it’s extremely dangerous and I have kids. I’ve lost two friends to the sport, and the death rate is very high. Perhaps the most spectacular stunt in wingsuiting is Uli Emanuele’s threading of the needle:

    He died the year after this was made.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted November 29, 2017 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      Looks like a good way to die young.

  14. BJ
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Every time you tell me I’m about to see something from “Brian Cox” without adding that it’s the professor, I think of the actor. Multiple times now, you’ve told me I was about to see Brian Cox’s cat, only for me to find out it was not the cat belonging to one of my favorite bellowing thespians, an adorable peek into the life of a man whose many roles make him seem less approachable than the posting of cutesy cat pictures would suggest. And every time, I’m disappointed.

  15. Mark Ayling
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Re. Gertrude Jekyll: I don’t think her name is well known to the general public, apart from keen gardeners. There was a TV drama of her work with Edwin Lutyens, broadcast a few years ago.

    ISTR it’s pronounced “Jee-kul”.

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