Saturday: Hili dialogue

It’s Saturday, March 3, 2018, and National Cold Cuts Day (I’m having rib tips.) And it’s a UN-founded World Wildlife Day, so feed your birds and squirrels!

On this day in 1820, the U.S. Congress passed the Missouri Compromise, trading the admission to the Union of Maine as a free state with Missouri as a slave state; and further forbidding slavery to exist in new states above 36° 30′ latitude. On this day in 1861, Alexander II of Russia freed the serfs. In 1875, Bizet’s opera Carmen premiered at the Opéra-Comique in Paris. On the very same day, the first organized game of indoor ice hockey was played in Canada—in Montreal. On March 3 1924, the caliphate was abolished when Caliph Abdülmecid II was deposed, making room for Kemal Atatürk’s secular Turkish regime.  On this day in 1938, drillers first struck oil in Saudi Arabia. Here’s that first well, “Dammam Number 7”:

In 1986, the Australia Act took effect, making Australia “fully” independent from the United Kingdom. But it’s not of course: it’s part of the Commonwealth, has the Union Jack in its flag (Aussies: why do you tolerate that?), and has a governor-general who is the representative of Queen Elizabeth. I find this all to be royalist nonsense. (New Zealand has the same ambiguous connection to the UK.) Finally, on this day in 2005, pilot Steve Fossett became the first person to fly an airplane solo around the world without refueling. It took him 67 hours, 1 minute, and 10 seconds. Here’s his light carbon-fiber plane, the Virgin GlobalFlyer, with one jet engine. Fossett died in a plane crash in 2008.

Notables born on March 3 include Georg Cantor (1845), Alexander Graham Bell (1847), Cyril Burt (1883), Jean Harlow (1911; died at 26), Arthur Kornberg (1918), Doc Watson (1923), Ira Glass (1959), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1962), Laura Harring (1964), Brian Cox (1968; he’s fifty today), and Charlie Brooker (1971). Those who died on March 3 include Robert Hooke (1703), Lou Costello (1959), Hergé (1983), Danny Kaye (1987), evolutionary geneticist Sewall Wright (1988), Arthur Murray (1991), and Albert Sabin (1993).

Matthew saw that Cox tweeted two items for his birthday:

And, since Cox is an airplane fanatic, his birthday was celebrated by airline staff:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili again shows that her brain is driven by her stomach:

Hili: You have to fight with tooth and claw for what is yours.
A: And what is yours?
Hili: Everything tasty.
 In Polish:
Hili: Trzeba walczyć o swoje kłami i pazurami.
Ja: A co jest twoje?
Hili: Wszystko co smaczne.

Here’s a cartoon found by reader Alexandra:

From Grania we learn that Facebook censored the Venus of Willendorf! And indeed it did—Zuckerberg’s Pecksniffs deemed it “pornographic.”

I may have put this up before, but it’s worth seeing again.  That’s a happy kitten—breakfast in bed!

From Matthew, we hear that “Snowmageddon” continues in Britain. Here’s Alfie the Ferret doing his best outside:

And a reptilian Pope!:

Matthew found a tweet of Namibian sand dunes moving over a 30-year period:

And a terrific snow artist:

Be sure to watch this video of a caterpillar who strikes at predators with its tail. Watch it throw a beetle, too!

From reader Barry: “Is it love? Or is it more of a case of: ‘I really don’t like you doing this, and maybe if I give you a little nip on the chin you might stop, but if this goes on for much longer, you’re going to get more than a nip.'”


  1. Ross
    Posted March 3, 2018 at 7:15 am | Permalink


    The Commonwealth is a collection of independent nations with shared history with or through the UK, So not like your four “Commonwealth of…” states and not like the US federal system.

    I worry that the main reason we like it is so we can enjoy a sports competition that isn’t full of US, Chinese and Russian athletes who will insist on winning.

    BTW: The Union Flag appears on Hawaii’s state flag as well.


    • Posted March 3, 2018 at 7:36 am | Permalink

      Well so much the worse for Hawaii. The Governor General can in principle affect Australian and New Zealand politics; this is unconscionable in an “independent” state. Formally, neither NZ nor Oz are “independent”. Now you can say that the Governor General and Queen doesn’t exercise that influence, but in that case why not sever these ties?

      • George
        Posted March 3, 2018 at 8:13 am | Permalink

        Why doesn’t Canada? Jamaica? The Bahamas? Ot many other places?

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted March 3, 2018 at 8:35 am | Permalink

        The Governor General is really an expensive figure head. I don’t like the monarchy being part of Canada as I’d rather spend that money on other things like health care given out to the provinces. I see the point of those in Canada who see it as tradition and I think we could still have a Commonwealth Club without the other monarchy trappings. My biggest issue is that it rubs history in the face of French Canadians who I have more in common with than a foreign monarch. For this reason alone, I’d prefer that we got rid of the monarchy and grew up fully as a nation.

        • Posted March 3, 2018 at 9:24 am | Permalink

          No, the GG is not ‘just’ a figurehead (although in practice, this is usually the case) but as the Monarchy’s representative, the GG is the head of the military and it is to the Monarchy that government representatives swear allegiance. This fact is what guarantees the maintaining the central core of our government’s purpose – Peace, Order, and Good government. And maintaining these ‘figurehead’ positions is not about ‘tradition’; it’s about maintaining legitimate Constitutional power and its legitimate exercise. That is what you are dismantling by getting rid of them.

          If you try to remove the monarchy, you remove not just these ‘figureheads’ (each province also has a Lieutenant Governor) but the entire federal, provincial, and municipal government and its legitimacy in law. You reverse the authority for the Constitution away from the top down as it has evolved to the bottom up version, the Republican version. So you have to account for this seismic shift in law. You also have to rewrite and re-legitimize all law so authorized.

          This ‘getting rid of the Monarchy’ hand wave is not a trivial undertaking but is massive. It would be very expensive in every conceivable way and a highly problematic undertaking for such a country as Canada and its three founding peoples (now morphed into a hugely diverse population) that it would reshape the country entirely and probably alter the final product into something unrecognizable.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted March 3, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

            Pffft. Exactly “in practice this is the case”. I couldn’t care less what the job is supposed to be. Do you really think the GG is going to play a key role in military decisions. In practice it’s a ceremonial role that costs tax payers thousands if not millions. It’s stupid.

            I also couldn’t care less how “Massive” my ‘Hand wave” seems or that you characterize my carefully thought out reasoning as flippant in calling it a “hand wave”. It’s time to grow up and run the country properly and maybe even get along with Quebec a bit better.

            • Posted March 3, 2018 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

              I said, “usually” but you’ll notice the Prime Minister goes hat in hand to the GG to convince this ‘figurehead’ of the ‘traditional’ Monarchy about forming the next government and the GG can and does directly decide on matters of national importance. Without the GG and the authority of the Crown, do you think for one second First Nations treaties would be worth anything? And do not think that Parliament is unaware that the military and courts holds power independent of them from the Crown, on behalf of the Crown. We see this played out to effect all the time. It’s one of those checks and balances thing you would remove without much if any forethought. It is the checks and balances in enforceable law backed by the military that keeps the rule of the majority from being mob rule led by a Strongman.

              My issue with what I call the hand waving people cast in the direction of Constitutional Monarchies as if these countries are somehow immature is that Republicans presume without any merit whatsoever that the country could be politically reshaped in place of this ‘ceremonial’ fluff, get rid of these ‘figureheads’ who they presume do nothing but suck up public money that could be better spent on, say, healthcare.

              The presumption is factually wrong.

              I think it’s not a grown-up thing to do to advocate on such a flimsy and shallow notion of what constitutes national ‘maturity’ to wish to pull out the central pillar upon which one of the world’s oldest and most stable and peaceful democracies stands; I think it’s rather flippant a presumption when it’s apparent no deeper thought has gone into it to even consider for a moment the seismic change and the danger raised this would entail to those of such diversity who populate that nation. You’re use of Quebec presuming better treatment as a justification to dismantle our country to save a few bucks is at best deeply naive and does not demonstrate a maturity of appreciating consequences for such flippant actions.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 3, 2018 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

                So in essence your argument is it’s hard to change from being a constitutional monarchy so we shouldn’t do it. That’s what I’m hearing in your long explanations of how our government currently works. I think we can find a way to actually grandfather any treaties we have made with aboriginals. The Indian Act needs an overhaul anyway as it’s a racist document that needs to be rethought with people we treat as equals, not children, who are capable of governing themselves.

                And do you think the GG would ever say no to the PM? What do you think would happen if she did? And why should we be asking the queen indirectly if we can form a government if we are considered a free and sovereign nation? Jerry is right about this – we aren’t really free. Have you ever watched the throne speech ceremonies with the PM on a fold out chair and the GG looking like Santa? It’s ridiculous. Let’s get back to running the country not poncing about like mediaeval barrons! I make enough fun of the US State of the Union address with all the back slapping but this is even funnier.

          • Posted March 5, 2018 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

            Technically, federal public servants in Canada do not swear to the monarch or her representative. Fortunately for me, because I too am anti-monarchist and also (now) a PS.

        • Kiwi Dave
          Posted March 3, 2018 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

          In NZ the GG is a distinguished person appointed for both constitutional and ceremonial functions. Almost certainly, the cost of some sort of elected alternative to the present system would be far more expensive, and would not increase our independence one jot.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted March 3, 2018 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

            Yeah but too be fair, you lot are always walking around barefoot so you need someone posh to smooth things over. 😉

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted March 3, 2018 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

              No, I’m always walking around barefoot; sadly most New Zealand yoof is fitted from infancy with nasty smelly foot-covers that cost an exorbitant amount, make fortunes for the ‘sportsmen’ who advertise the things and starvation wages for the southeast asian slave labour who make them.

              A minority wear jandals (aka flip-flops or ‘thongs’) which at least let their feet breathe but are the most unstable, dangerous form of footwear yet devised. I can’t walk in them.


              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 3, 2018 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

                My mother, who is somewhat frail and in her 70s, fell wearing jandals this summer. We call them flip-flops here. We used to call them thongs but I guess that’s reserved for the underwear now. Anyway, my dad and I told her not to wear flip flops and she kept insisting they were sandals. They so aren’t. They are flip flops. I sent her that funny jandals song by Rhys Darby. If I could be barefoot all the time, I would be but 1) you can’t in Canada in winter 2) my feet have bizarre structural problems and they hurt all the time without orthotics. Flippin’ feet!

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted March 3, 2018 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

        Well, it’s hardly as if the mother country is forcing its monarchy on Oz, NZ or indeed Canada at gunpoint. All of them are perfectly free to change their constitutional arrangements any time they want. Australia has had referenda on ditching HM the Q and becoming a republic, and (so far) has rejected the proposal. NZ had a vote last year on replacing the flag, and decided not to.

        It’s called democracy.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 3, 2018 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

          In fact, the proposed alternative flag was not bad. (NOT the hideous ‘silver fern’ thing that’s used as a rugby logo and looks from a distance like ISIS). But the light blue, white and black one that won the ‘alternative’ competition. I could have lived with that.

          But I’m okay with the one we’ve got. It’s a messy design but no worse than the Stars & Stripes.

          I think at least part of the reason the alternative lost was reaction to John Key virtually telling us we were going to have a new flag – it was just a ‘Fuck you Key’ reaction.


        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted March 3, 2018 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

          And the world is poorer for NZ having not changed its flag, for we robbed of potential gems such as these. I blame Kiwi humour for why I get in so much trouble in Canada. I make jokes like this a lot and people don’t always get it.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted March 3, 2018 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

            Diana. That’s a bad link [extra characters at the end] THIS LINK WORKS

            I vote for Snapper Quota

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted March 3, 2018 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

              Thanks – I keep having href fails when I type on my iPhone or iPad which is always.

      • Posted March 5, 2018 at 6:42 am | Permalink

        why not sever these ties?

        I think it would require a change in the constitution to select the head of state by some other means and they daren’t try to change the constitution without a mandate from the public. So far, any attempts to get such a mandate have failed.

        Also, maybe they like having the ties with the “mother country”.

    • David Duncan
      Posted March 3, 2018 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      And Britsh Columbia’s.

      Some people don’t like to change holidays, flags or systems of government for trivial reasons of fashion.

      People who prefer the US system to the Commonwealth system of government might benefit from reviwing the the recent (and not so recent) history of the former.

      • slandermonkey
        Posted March 3, 2018 at 9:14 am | Permalink

        Canada’s head of State is the Queen, her representative in Canada is the Governor General as it is difficult for the Queen to be in so many far flung countries at the same time. Having a figure head for your head of state is great way to avoid concentrating power and prestige in one person. Look around the world at various republics of varying levels of democracy, and you will often see having a head of state being a venerated position with any actual power often leads to trouble. It is human nature to hang on to power and increase the power you have. Even in the USA the President has usurped powers that are legally Congress’s, for example starting various small wars.

        There are some Canadian’s who do want to become a republic and banish the monarchy, but most Canadians are quite happy being a Constitutional Monarch. It is part of our history, and no more nonsensical than having a President. Personally, I think it nonsensical to give so much power to your president – even before Trump was elected.

        Our head of state is a harmless figure head, revered by many, but lacking any real power. When our Prime Minster screws up it is pretty easy for the governing party to remove him, it doesn’t cause any constitutional crisis, and doesn’t involve tarnishing the prestige of the Head of State and indirectly the whole country. All in all, it is an eminently sensible system of government.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted March 3, 2018 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

          You can have a real head of state by having a President and a Prime Minister. How is having a figure head any better? Maybe we don’t need one at all if the head of state is ceremonial.

          • Posted March 3, 2018 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

            I have to say that I’m really disappointed in our education system when another Canadian actually thinks what you say here. I can only assume you simply do not have the knowledge you should have as an informed citizen to continue to believe the GG is just a figurehead because the position is only ceremonial. It’s not. It’s an office of the Crown with real power that is exercised constantly and to real effect by this authority from the Crown. Getting rid of it means dismantling our entire political and legal system. And that’s simply not a ceremonial dismantling!

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted March 3, 2018 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

              stop Trying to insult me by claiming you are weeping at my ignorance. I’m an informed and educated Canadian. I know how the office of the GG works and it can be replaced with many of the duties given to others, including diplomats. Lots of countries function without a GG or a monarchy as head of state. France is doing quite well. You accuse me of trying to destroy the government to save money and say I’m using Quebec as an excuse. Stop speculating and engage in facts. Stop trying to insult my education and intelligence if you want to argue a point. I’ve said it many times on WEIT that it is a slap in the face to the Québécois to have to look at the face of the Queen on their money everyday. We didn’t choose The Maple Leaf Forever as our anthem because the lyrics were insulting to French Canadians but we insult them with this monarchy crap all the time. You do know royal visits rarely go to Quebec because they are so disastrous when they happen, right? Do you not care about how many Canadians hate being reminded that they were defeated and conquered by a foreign power?

              • Posted March 3, 2018 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

                You claim the Governor General office in Canada is ceremonial. It isn’t. You claim that the Governor General is merely a figurehead. This is incorrect. You agree with Jerry that keeping this position is a sign of national immaturity. It isn’t. When I point his out to you, that all of these claims are factually wrong, you seem offended. When I tell you I presume your civic education has been lacking for you to continue to believe in these factually incorrect claims you continue to make, you tell me I’m wrong. Fine. What excuse can you continue to use to uphold what amounts to a faith-based belief that reality arbitrates is factually incorrect?

                Look, Canada’s form of government has somehow managed, in spite of your criticisms of being immature, to maintain the constitutional Monarchy we have… one that has somehow managed to bring historical enemies to live side by side peacefully. And prosper. We have managed to turn aside repeated armed invasions and revolutionary attempts, punched well above our weight in every war with incredible rates of participation in spite of long nurtured historical grievances between these populations, and have even exported this negotiated confederated style of government to such countries full of civil strife as Ireland and Iraq to effect. Mistakes that were made along the way – there was no blueprint to follow – are being accepted as cause for legitimate grievances; our governments are accepting responsibility for their roles in these; some redress has been offered in many cases. Of course, these will all be thought of by many to be too little too late but remember, we’re comparing and contrasting these examples for the purpose of determining beyond our personal beliefs just how ‘immature’ such a country is and operates versus Republics. I do not think we are wanting in any fair comparison; in fact, I think we demonstrate a maturity arguably far in excess of most forms of ‘mature’ republican governments. Throwing out this ‘baby’ with then kind of bathwater you raise in order to agree with our website host I think demonstrates either a counter-factual bias or ignorance. I’m sorry if that offends you but I think it is true nevertheless not because I wish to believe so but because I think facts trump faith.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted March 3, 2018 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

                You are condescending & rude.

                An evidence-based argument doesn’t NEED speculation from you re Diana’s education & no need either to bring up her ignorance [as you see it] in the area of the subject at hand. Drop it!

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 3, 2018 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

                Thank you Michael.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 3, 2018 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

                You’ve addressed none of my reasons for wanting to abandon the monarchy save to accuse me of “using Quebec” to save money. I’m not offended by your arguments, I’m offended that you can’t seem to engage without devolving into ad homs. Your entire argument seems to be that leaving the monarchy is too hard so we shouldn’t do it. You have agin argues in this response that Canada has managed with the monarchy. So what? That doesn’t mean the constitutional monarchy is the root cause of all our success! We’ve had some pretty shit things happen too including I getting the Japanese during WWII, turning away Jews fleeing the Nazis and sending aboriginals to residential schools. Are you going to pin that all on her constitutional monarchy too? It isn’t I who is getting upset and arguing from emotion but feel free to reply with “you’re uneducated and the GG isn’t purely ceremonial” as your answer again.

                I’m leaving off this discussion. If you don’t want to engage in proper arguments and ignore my questions and answers there is. It point ans we are dancing dangerously close to roolz violation.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted March 3, 2018 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

              And BTW the poster I was replying to called the GG a figurehead. I was replying that if that is the case, why have it? Are you going to call that person ignorant and uneducated as well or is it just me you want to insult today?

              • Posted March 3, 2018 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

                Right, and I’m pointing out that you should know there is no ‘if’ about it; the GG is not a figurehead and the office is not simply ceremonial. Why you don;t know this is a mystery to me.

            • Posted March 3, 2018 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

              tildeb: have you read the posting rules. DO NOT insult another commenter. You’ve done that twice here, and in a really snotty way. Either apologize to Diana or you won’t post here any more. And read the rules for posting (link on the left side of the page).

              • Posted March 4, 2018 at 8:41 am | Permalink

                I apologize for my snooty and rude comments, DM. My tone is often interpreted this way in writing.

                As someone who teaches such civics in Canada, I can understand people from afar not appreciating – for lack of in-depth knowledge ie ignorance – that the Monarchy is the central pillar of our country… for good or ill… and what this really means on a day to day basis. I understand that this absence of a deeper understanding usually plays an important role in suggesting Constitutional Monarchies must not be mature enough compared to Republics tyo be independent. I get it. It does seem this way at this low level of understanding (in the same way it seems being married must be less mature for those who prize personal independence as a sign of maturity! So I think it takes a deeper level of understanding to appreciate how a marriage can enhance individual liberty within the framework of a partnership that at first blush seems obviously so constraining).

                And I also understand that it’s easy to see the ill from having a Monarchy when it comes to establishing the level of independence a country enjoys and its historical record. That political connection obviously affects the notion of being independent vs acting independently. After all, we can select historical examples of poor behaviour and decisions that buttress certain legitimate criticisms of these ills – but it really does require more thought, more knowledge, to see how independence to act ‘maturely’ as a nation is enhanced within the framework of Constitutional Monarchies. That’s why the Prime Minister in Canada, for example, really does have far more power than the President of the United States or France. The framework really does matter significantly even if it seems to be less than independent.

                So there are two very important aspects to consider. The first is that getting rid of the Monarchy from a Constitutional Monarchy means something quite drastic; it means first dismantling our country politically and legally and then coming up with a workable solution favoured by a majority of its citizens without bullying the minority into submission and causing grounds for long term strife. This means that such a process would be incredibly disruptive and potentially fatal to the country as a whole. Not adequately considering this effect is what I call hand-waving or flippant because the effects are so all encompassing and important. It means the person advocating for the dismantling usually hasn’t really considered the very real drama that would ensue – also for good or ill – of actually implementing such an destructive act. And I don’t think one can consider dismantling a country without significant thought about what this actually means in real life to real people. The effects would fall on every citizen and every business and every agency.

                Could it be done? Sure. Should it be done? Well, for what reasons… reasons that adequately justify the dismantling of a functioning, peaceful, prosperous country with significant diversity in its population? Divorce for divorce’s sake? Would it really ‘solve’ more problems than it causes? Remember, Jerry has often commented that he simply doesn’t understand how people on this web site from Constitutional Monarchies continue to support this foreign oversight, and the answer is that it’s complicated but yields a significant net benefit for peace, order, and good government in comparison to Republics. Being held in such a measure of ‘immaturity’ is itself a strong indicator that the person has a low level of understanding and when the belief is maintained then this categorizing of people is itself rather rude and snooty.

                I have yet to encounter convincing reasons from anyone that would lead me to think this idea of becoming a Republic has powerful arguments in its favour to outweigh its costs, other than an assumption that it’s the right thing to do. But is it really?

                So when I encounter another Canadian who seems relatively unaware of what the scope and depth of such a radical and revolutionary change would entail, compared to the reasons that person offers for this opinion, then it really does shock me. I take that lack of civic knowledge personally. My bad. So when the Canadian who maintains the opinion of ending this relationship and what that ending would mean in practice by removing these offices and officials. I do tend to use language that can be seen as snooty and rude because the justifications I encounter tend not to be as deeply thought out as I think the dismantling of country deserves, that our public education system about civics should ensure. Saying that better, without being considered rude and snooty for saying it the way I do, is a lifelong ambition for me and one that I obviously fall far short of achieving so I really do apologize. But please understand I do so for reasons that I think are really quite important to appreciate.

          • Posted March 5, 2018 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

            Indeed – one of the founding influences on Canada is France, and they have the dual president / prime minister. (To be fair, I don’t claim to understand the division of labour in France.)

  2. BobTerrace
    Posted March 3, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Non-notables born on this day – me (1951)

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted March 3, 2018 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      Happy 67

    • Posted March 3, 2018 at 7:36 am | Permalink

      Happy birthday!

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted March 3, 2018 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      And my mum (1936 – but it’s a secret) I’m sure she will be delighted to know that she’s in such great company

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted March 3, 2018 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      Happy Birthday Bob!

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted March 3, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      According to Wikipedia,

      67 is:

      the 19th prime number (the next is 71).
      an irregular prime.[1]
      a lucky prime.[2]
      the sum of five consecutive primes (7 + 11 + 13 + 17 + 19).
      a Heegner number.[3]
      a Pillai prime since 18! + 1 is divisible by 67, but 67 is not one more than a multiple of 18.[4]
      palindromic in the consecutive bases 5 (2325) and 6 (1516)

    • Posted March 3, 2018 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      Happy birthday!

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 3, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Missouri Compromise assisted in delaying the civil war for 40 years. Further compromises and Acts undermined it as well.

    The first non-stop around the world trip in an airplane was 1986, Dick Rutan & Jeana Yeager. 9 day trip.

    • Posted March 3, 2018 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Yeah, but I pointed out that the one I mentioned was a SOLO round trip. The guy had to stay awake the whole time (I think).

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted March 3, 2018 at 11:22 am | Permalink

        I was not disputing, just thought I’d throw it in.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 3, 2018 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        I wondered about that too

        “I’ve flown that long before in a balloon without sleep,” Mr. Fossett said at a January briefing after piloting GlobalFlyer into its new home base at Municipal Airport in Salina, Kan. “We’re protected by autopilots in case I nod off,” he added. “It’s a difficult flight. I believe I can do it.”

        – which mentions has some other interesting aviation exploits of Fossett’s.

        Not entirely clear if the autopilot could actually fly the plane or just woke Fossett in the event of deviations from course or altitude.


      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted March 4, 2018 at 3:55 am | Permalink

        Three days without any sleep would have most people on the verge of insanity. It’s a regular technique in the Torturer’s Cookbook, because it only leaves marks in the victim’s mind. Nine days is literally incredible.
        20 minute “power naps” every few hours make a big difference.

  4. Posted March 3, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    I’m actually slightly older than the suspiciously ageless Brian Cox. I think he keeps an aging picture of himself in his attic. Or else the ravages of time are takingbthemselves out on Robin Ince. Cox is definitely manipulating entropy somehow.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 3, 2018 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      I think Robin Ince has complained about that bitterly – that he is ravaged by time and Cox always looks so boyish. Both those men are around my age.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 3, 2018 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    The Venus of Willendorf pornographic? Christ, some people don’t even know it when they see it. The Facebook Pecksniffs need some time on the couch to figure out why Venus of Willendorf appeals to their prurient interests.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 3, 2018 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    The Pope looks like he’s getting ready to launch, like Sally Field in The Flying Nun. What’s with Roman Catholics and their volant vestments?

  7. George
    Posted March 3, 2018 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    I think Georg Cantor deserved more than a brief mention. He invented set theory. Also the concept that there are different sizes of infinity. Which made the church unhappy. From Wikipedia:
    Cantor, a devout Lutheran, believed the theory had been communicated to him by God. Some Christian theologians (particularly neo-Scholastics) saw Cantor’s work as a challenge to the uniqueness of the absolute infinity in the nature of God – on one occasion equating the theory of transfinite numbers with pantheism – a proposition that Cantor vigorously rejected.

    • Posted March 3, 2018 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      Roolz violation: telling me to expand on your favorite mathematician! OY!

  8. David Harper
    Posted March 3, 2018 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Slightly off-topic, but I wanted to draw PCC(E)’s attention to a science news item in today’s Guardian on a case of (supposedly) speciation reversal, or at least, hybridisation between two species whose lineages diverged more than a million years ago.

    I haven’t had time yet to study the original scientific paper in detail, and it’s somewhat outside my area of expertise (I’m an astronomer, darn it, not a biologist!), so I’d be interested in PCC(E)’s take on it.

    • Posted March 3, 2018 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      Yes, I have the paper and am reading it a couple of times and may write on it. My first impression is that they can’t be sure the lineages were biological species (that is, were reproductively isolated from one another). They have lineages that were diverged (granted, for a long time), but we don’t know whether those corresponded to biological species. Of course it’s sexier and more newsworthy to say that this is “reverse speciation” than “lineage fusion”!

      • Posted March 3, 2018 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        I suspect that I may have to borrow your book on speciation from my Institute’s library before I attempt a deep dive into the paper.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 3, 2018 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

        Re speciation, I have a question that occurred to me while floating around the Rarotonga lagoon. There are at least a half-dozen different varieties of butterfly fish there, all occupying (presumably) the same ecological niche in the same area. Howcome? How did speciation (or varietisation?) ever get started? Howcome the dominant variety didn’t just ‘swamp’ the others?

        Is there a short explanation that a non-biologist can follow? Sorry if it’s a stupid question.


        • Diane G.
          Posted March 4, 2018 at 2:04 am | Permalink

          I know nothing about that situation but suspect the chances are high that there is no short explanation. 😉

          The speciation of cichlids in the “great lakes” of East Africa is a well-known, long studied case that may have some relevance to the situation you describe. See discussion of the many and various selective pressures that may be involved here:

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted March 4, 2018 at 4:34 am | Permalink

          There are at least a half-dozen different varieties of butterfly fish there, all occupying (presumably) the same ecological niche in the same area.

          Is that the same ecological niche from your view point as a fish out of water for 300 million years, returned to the water for tha last couple of hours, or from the butterfly fish’s point of view as a fish who has spent it’s entire life on that reef?

          How did speciation (or varietisation?) ever get started?

          Did it happen where you see the current species, or on a different reef? Or the same reef, but a different location. If you go to any reef a couple of metres below present sea level, you’re also on a reef that was around 100m above sea level at the time of the origin of Homo sapiens. Environments change, and do so on a pretty rapid time scale.

  9. Nobody Special
    Posted March 3, 2018 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    PCC(E), The Union Flag is properly only referred to as the Union Jack when it is flown on a ship.

  10. Posted March 3, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Shouldn’t those egg-cups read Hard Breggsit and Soft Breggsit?

  11. glen1davidson
    Posted March 3, 2018 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    On this day in 1938, drillers first struck oil in Saudi Arabia.

    In time to assist in fueling the Allied war effort. The US produced far more during WWII, to be sure, but additional supplies meant that the tanks wouldn’t run dry.

    Glen Davidson

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted March 4, 2018 at 4:59 am | Permalink

      In time to assist in fueling the Allied war effort.

      Hmmm. Hardly. Making a discovery is one thing. Drilling dozens of production wells is another thing. And installing flow lines to bring the crude to a refinery or port takes a significant time too. As I recall it, the Saudi oil industry had barely got started before the end of WW2, in part because of the diversion of resources (e.g., steel) into the war effort.
      In the meantime, the Anglo-Iranian Oil company (now known as BP) was producing hundreds of thousands of barrels a day in territory effectively annexed after WW1, and similar amounts coming out of Iraq via the TPC.
      Of course, in practice a lot of the actual fuel used in the European and Pacific theatres had passed through US refineries, but damned little of it originated in Saudi Arabia.
      Incidentally, even at the time, for a well to produce a “gusher” like that was the height of bad drilling practice. That it damages equipment, wastes sellable material, and riles up the neighbours.

      • glen1davidson
        Posted March 4, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

        Well, you’re wrong:

        In Oct 1941, prior to the outbreak of the Pacific War, Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Japan. In 1943, Saudi Arabia and the United States officially established diplomatic relations. Britain and the United States continued to expand the oil production capabilities of Saudi Arabia, which sold the oil to the Allies for war use. This led to Saudi oil revenue growing from US$7,000,000 in 1939 to more than US$200,000,000 by the war’s end.

        And I made it clear that it wasn’t huge production. I knew of other Persian Gulf production in WWII, but that didn’t have to do with the Saudi find, which was what had been mentioned.

        Glen Davidson

  12. Posted March 3, 2018 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    The common ferret is also known as the snow dolphin.

  13. Nick260682
    Posted March 3, 2018 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    I rather enjoy the tongue in cheek chant that English fans will direct at their Australian and New Zealander counter parts during rugby, and especially cricket matches:


    Because who doesn’t love a flag based heckle?

  14. Posted March 5, 2018 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Porn or ancient sculpture? Well, I’ve always thought there’s a good case that it is an ancient sculpture that is porn, though like the likely “secret meaning of David” it doesn’t matter that it is the latter.

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