Monday: Hili dialogue

UPDATE: I’m adding this post facto, as Heather Hastie reminded me that 1.) I left out December 10, 2017 in the Hili dialogues last year, and 2.) Her birthday is on December 10. So to repair this heinous error, I’m saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY! to Heather—a year late.


Good morning. It’s Monday again: December 11, 2017. To paraphrase James Joyce, snow is general not over Ireland, though there’s enough to close schools and disrupt flights. But snow is general over the UK, severely disrupting flights and closing schools. To my friends over there, I’m sorry about this, but you’re a bunch of weenies! Chicago eats that kind of snow for breakfast.

For the events, births, and deaths that happened on this date, simply go to yesterday’s post, in which I screwed up and put stuff about December 11 rather than December 10.  There you will find that physicist Max Born was, well, born on December 11, 1882, making today his 135th birthday—if he wasn’t dead (he died in 1970). He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1954 for his mathematical work on the uncertainty principle.  Fun Born Fact: he is the grandfather of singer Olivia Newton-John.  Sadly, this is not a fact that will excite people at a cocktail party, as those who know Born’s work constitute a set largely non-overlapping with those who like the songs of Ms. Newton-John.

Here’s his gravestone in Göttingen (and his wife’s), inscribed with the uncertainty principle:

And today’s Google Doodle celebrating his life:



Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is biding her time. (Look at that sweet face!):

Hili: I’m not comfortable here.
A: So why are you sitting there?
Hili: So that I can enjoy the comfort of the armchair later.
In Polish:
Hili: Nie jest mi tu wygodnie.
Ja: To dlaczego tam siedzisz?
Hili: Żeby potem cieszyć się wygodą fotela.

And out in snowy Winnipeg, reader Tasker sends a photo from yesterday of “Gus snoozing this afternoon.”

We have a lot of tweets found by Matthew. Here’s one from one of his friends who was lucky enough to attend the Nobel Prize Banquet. You’ll remember that this year’s prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three people who worked on circadian rhythms and “clock genes.” Matthew’s note on the first tweet:

Leslie was Mike Young’s PhD student and discovered the timeless gene, which helped to explain how the clock works (she also played an important role in getting the two clock groups to work together). She has been in Stockholm as part of Young’s entourage for the awards. This is the hat she wore to the banquet today!

Leslie Voshall is now a professor of neurobiology at The Rockefeller University, and I like her sense of humor.

And Leslie’s tweet showing the Nobel banquet in Stockholm’s Town Hall:

Two themes, actually.  And I suppose the “thyme” is an accidental double entendre.

Not to leave out the physicists, here’s a hat at the banquet depicting gravitational waves, for which this year’s Physics Nobel was awarded. I didn’t realize that theme hats were a thing at Nobel banquets!

The men wore hats, too:

As I said, it snowed in London, and so we have this tweet:

And of course we have some animals, this one from Attenborough’s Blue Planet series. I hope this turtle makes it, but it’s fighting the odds:

A bat nomming a grape; what could be cuter?

A mustelid encounters its first snow:

We wind up with a really good story:



  1. Posted December 11, 2017 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    You are right about the wimpiness of English folk in general re snow – the Scots are more used to it, and much less inclined to fuss about it. The further south you go the more extreme the wimpiness – let one snowflake hit London and everything will grind to a halt.

    • Posted December 11, 2017 at 7:24 am | Permalink

      Well it is rain now!
      It is not wimpishness – I never wear a coat! It is the wrong sort of snow. Wet atlantic snow not continental powder. You cannot expect areas that have little regular snow to be prepared for small amounts of snow. It is rarely deep enough for snow ploughs. When I was in arctic Norway, they ploughed roads in the early morning so busses were always on time. All cars there have to put on their winter tyres at a certain date in the autumn. It would be nuts to have those tyres in most of England, though perhaps not in Scotland. And we put far too much salt on roads – it is extremely damaging to the environment & wildlife…

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted December 11, 2017 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        It’s all a matter of perspective is it not. When I lived in the country I thought the cities, like Chicago, were where all whimps lived.

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted December 11, 2017 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      I too reject the accusations of wimpiness; our problem is that it is considerably rarer down here so there is no incentive to spend much money being prepared, hence, three flakes and everything stops.

      Northern Linconshire is sitting in a nice little microclimate bubble at the moment: we have had a light sprinkle of hail pebbles this morning (considerably too small to be called stones) which have pretty much disappeared in the balmy two degrees Celcius that currently bathes us. I don’t know if the Humber estuary contributes to this but I always give it credit.

      I think winter 2010 is the closest were have been to Chicago weather in the last few years.

  2. mrclaw69
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Good old ferrets.

  3. Frank Bath
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Snow? Mostly the English Home Counties and London, where much of the population lives, just have a week of muck.

  4. MKray
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    That [p,q] bit on Born’s headstone is not the uncertainty principle, but the non-commutation of p and q… do mind your p’s and q’s. (q is position in 1D and p the conjugate momentum and it is true that that expression leads to the common form of uncertainty principle.)

  5. beanfeast
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    We have very soggy snow falling again in east London.

    I do wonder where the evidence is for the statement: “Sadly, this is not a fact that will excite people at a cocktail party, as those who know Born’s work constitute a set largely non-overlapping with those who like the songs of Ms. Newton-John.”

  6. Posted December 11, 2017 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    That last Tw**t is so perfect! I love it! Makes my morning. 🙂

  7. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    I have a similar story about my mother-in-law and her doctor. Her answer was “Don’t get me started.”

  8. Dave
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    “Let’s get Physical” was a big hit for Olivia N-J back in 1981. Perhaps it was a coded reference to her scientific ancestry?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 11, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      I like Olivia N-J – a determined individual. Now at 68 her cancer has returned & I assume she’ll do what it takes to improve her chances of beating it!

      But I don’t think she lives up to her grandad – she is into woo & has a ‘spiritual’ outlook.

      e.g. a builder killed himself at her home & she ordered up a Roman Catholic rent-a-priest to exorcise the property.

      And at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute [an Australian public hospital run by Austin Health] she pushes ‘wellness’ pretty hard to run alongside the usual cancer treatments – the old routine of monetizing supplements, yoga, massage & acupuncture. i found one pic of Olivia in a white lab coat & pearls.

      I notice the website is awash with “donate” buttons on every page I checked & many of the lab photos have that posed, overproduced bought-from-shutterstock look about them. And 100% white people too. I am very cynical about medical research into diseases with an emotive appeal such as cancer – ripe for printing money if done ‘right’.

      The website reminded me of the Biologic Institute [a shell of the Discovery Institute] who had that fraud Ann Gauger Ph.D doing science stuff on video in their creationist lab – the lab being a stock image green-screened as a background.

  9. Hempenstein
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    That bat named Eric?

  10. Hempenstein
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Also, when I lived in Stockholm in the ’80s, I recall that the banquet was televised. Maybe it still is?

  11. darrelle
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    I was once in love with ONJ. I’ve still got a couple vinyl albums of her’s in my collection. My brother used to tease me by calling her “I’ll Leave You A Note In The John.”

  12. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    One of the two funniest graffiti I have ever seen was in a men’s room in Jenny Lake campground (often visited by physicists):
    “Heisenberg might have been here”. (But it would not work to put on Born’s grave that he might be buried there.)

    It may interest precious few that Max Born is the grandfather of Olivia Newton-John, but a little known connection that would interest far far more people is that the Berkeley anthropologist Alfred Kroeber is the father of science-fiction author Ursula K. LeGuin (Yes, the K is for Kroeber).
    I was eons ago taking a bus home from Foothill College and saw a student with a stack of 4 books including a LeGuin novel and Theadora Kroeber’s “Ishi: The Last of his Tribe”. I asked him if he decided to do some mother-daughter reading. He was puzzled. I clarified. He cried out in astonishment. “Alfred and Theodora Kroeber are the parents of Ursula LeGuin???”

    (My other favorite graffiti spotted in a San Francisco restaurant men’s room was “Dyslexics of the world, untie!”)

  13. Kosmos
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    I’m all for whimsical hats but the pictures Jerry posted were apparently from an unofficial dinner for the LIGO team. The real Nobel banquet is a tad more extravagant:

  14. Nick260682
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    The train wankers graffiti is about 2 years old! It’s just outside Wimbledon train station and whoever posted this as their own this is a thief!

    It’s a riff on the popular UK sitcom “The Inbetweeners” in which they would regularly shout “bus wankers” at people waiting for buses from their recently purchased first ever car. Many of the quotes from that show have entered firmly into common parlance in the UK.

    It was enormous, very visible from that particularly busy stretch of railway, and the cause of much amusement in SW London until it was sadly removed.

    And yes, us English are pathetic when it comes to dealing with any mildly adverse weather conditions.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 11, 2017 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      The “Train-Wankers” graffito dates back to 2010 or earlier. Dalton [who does the “shit London” calendar] doesn’t claim it to be his.

  15. Warren Johnson
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Daniel Seideman

    This goyim can’t thank you enough. I laughed and I cried. More jokes please sir.

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