Wednesday: Hili dialogue

by Grania

While Jerry is gallivanting around I’m in charge of putting up the Hili Dialogues. Good morning from a dark and gloomy Ireland where it is actually trying to snow again.

There is sad news this morning: scientist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76, which is a respectable age for any human to attain, and all the more so in his case as he had suffered from ALS for over five decades. People are paying tribute to his life and his work over on Twitter.


Today is Albert Einstein’s birthday (1879), and also Quincy Jones (1933) and Jerry Greenfield (1951) of Ben & Jerry’s fame. It’s also Pi Day if you are an American and write your dates the wrong way round.


In Things On The Internet this morning:

Here’s a baby elephant who thinks she’s a kitten. It’s cute, but I hope she grows out of the habit soon, or things are going to get uncomfortable real fast.

Won’t somebody think of the children?

Bats being batty.

Marine mammals frolicking

Leon the Serious Cat puts in an appearance.

Leon: So, are we going to paint?

In Winnipeg last night, Gus was on the night watch for bunnies:

And we have a few words of wisdom from Poland’s most philosophical cat.

Hili: There are texts worth returning to.
A: Oh yes, and there are some not worth starting on.

In Polish:

Hili: Są teksty, do których warto wracać.
Ja: O tak, ale są i takie, których nie warto zaczynać.

Finally, armchair experts, what’s going on here?


Hat-tip: Matthew


  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    Stephen Hawking
    8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018
    (Source Wikipedia)

    So it really was on Einstein’s birthday.

    Neil DeGrasse Tyson via Twi773r:
    “His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it’s not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure. Stephen Hawking, RIP 1942-2018.”

    … also everyone :

    Sam Harris’ gig with Steven Pinker is tonight. You have to subscribe (i.e. pay up) to see it, I gather.

    • Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      A pet peeve of mine: passing is for kidney stones, wind and ships in the night. He died, Neil. He died.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:54 am | Permalink

        Um – for kidney stones- me thinks “passing” is a euphemism for “ pissing”?

      • Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:58 am | Permalink

        Mine too, why do people use this euphemism? It smacks of going from one place to another!

        • darrelle
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:29 am | Permalink

          Well, it sort of is. Aside from its past history I think it still works fine metaphorically. You pass from a state of being alive to a state of being dead.

          • GBJames
            Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:35 am | Permalink

            What is this “you” who “passes”? Whatever the “aliveness” was, it just isn’t anymore. It hasn’t “gone” anywhere. It hasn’t “passed to a state”, it just disappeared.

            • darrelle
              Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:39 am | Permalink

              Get Off My Lawn!

              • GBJames
                Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:44 am | Permalink

                May the Grid be with you!

            • BJ
              Posted March 14, 2018 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

              You, a conscious being, no longer conscious. Passed from a state of consciousness to unconsciousness, and never to be conscious again. You can’t honestly deny that alive and dead aren’t two distinct states of being…?

              • GBJames
                Posted March 14, 2018 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

                No, I don’t think so. Consciousness ends. “You” didn’t move from here to somewhere else anymore than you moved somewhere when the anesthesia was supplied in your last surgery, assuming you’ve had that experience.

                When something stops, it doesn’t “go somewhere”.

          • Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:07 am | Permalink

            Wouldn’t it be a better metaphor to just say you stopped?

            In fact, I think I might make it a condition of my will that any of talk go my death shall use the euphemism “JeremyP stopped today”.

      • GBJames
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:02 am | Permalink

        I share your peeve.

      • Diane G.
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

        A common peeve, but it’s never bothered me, probably because it’s been around so long that I don’t think most people give it a thought other than as a synonym for “die.”

        Plus, the full sentiment is usually “passed away,” “away” as in “gone.” Can just as easily be read as “gone for good” rather than “gone to” someplace.

        • GBJames
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

          Naa… the usual full sentiment is “passed on” (to the great beyond… with Jesus).

          Here, in WEITville, it is different, of course.

          • Diane G.
            Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

            Apparently one’s attitude depends greatly on the precise idiom one hears most often. 🙂 In my case it was almost always “passed away.”

            • Posted March 15, 2018 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

              “Passed away,” my (non-religious) heritage, too. There was never any destination referenced or expected.

          • Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:09 am | Permalink

            In Britain you would here passed away more often than passed on.

            • GBJames
              Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:29 am | Permalink

              If I was in Britain I think I’d prefer to run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible. 😉

    • Walt Jones
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      Another cool fact: Hawking was born 300 years to the day after Galileo died.

      • Diane G.
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        Ooh, and both names are 7 letters long…!


        • BJ
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

          Oh my god, 9/11 WAS an inside job!! 😉

          • Diane G.
            Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

            Damn! It’s all so obvious, now…!

      • Diane G.
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

        Lest my remark read snarkier than intended, Walt–that is a cool fact. From the mechanics of the solar system to quantum mechanics. A very satisfying coincidence indeed!

  2. Christopher
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    I’m sure I’m not alone in being one of those who owns Hawking’s famous book A Brief History of Time but has not yet read the thin but dense volume. I shall finally begin it today, in his honor. Amazing man, amazing mind, and an amazing outlook on life and living.

  3. Posted March 14, 2018 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Oops–the Hawking tribute should be here, not on the squirrel post.

  4. Chris G
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    Is it just me, or does that wonderful photo of Stephen Hawking resemble Jerry as we’d imagine he looked in his early 20’s?
    Jerry, can you offer a historic pose for comparison?

    • Laurance
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      It’s not just you. As I was scrolling down I saw the picture and thought it was Jerry even though the paragraph was about Stephen Hawking. I was expecting to read something about the picture and why we’d see Jerry in an announcement about Hawking.

    • Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      Yes- just clicked it open before reading the headline and my first thought was that it’s some photo of PCCe.

    • Jim batterson
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      The stature is very close i believe, but jerry had a full head of dense curly jet black hair, sometimes a beard, and contacts. He has published a few pics of that time in his life this past year…his trip to a friends wedding in texas comes to mind. But yes, the pose is somewhat pcc’ish.

    • Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      I had the very same thought and as I can see here there are many of us which share the same impression.

    • Rita
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:11 am | Permalink


      • Chris G
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:20 am | Permalink

        Hang on a minute ….. were PCC(E) and Stephen Hawking ever seen in the same room together?
        Oh, and today’s post was by Grania, not PCC(E) … the plot thickens!
        (P.S. and in case you didn’t know: we never landed on the moon, the US government planned 9/11, and the earth is flat).

    • Mark R.
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      I thought the same for a second; and is that a cigarette in his hand? I think I remember seeing a photo of young PCC(e) at his friend’s wedding smoking a skag.

  5. David Harper
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    We also lost Sir John Sulston last week. He was the founding director of the Sanger Institute, where a large chunk of the International Human Genome Project was carried out in the 1990s and early 2000s.

    John argued passionately that genome sequences should not be patentable and that all of the data from the HGP and its successor sequencing projects should be made freely available to anyone who wanted to use it. That ethos still prevails at the Sanger Institute and the other institutes around the world which took part in the HGP.

    The Guardian published a wonderful obituary:

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:02 am | Permalink

      Thank you – (?) for posting this.

      … I don’t know what to say really, when someone dies. Thank you? Not really… its’ sad? Interesting?

      I guess sad.

    • Dominic
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      ooh – did not spot your comment til after I put one below… they were the same age very nearly…

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      Thank you. Sad to say, this it the first I’ve heard of him.

      It’s really a crap shoot who becomes famous and who doesn’t, these days.

  6. Simon Hayward
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Further to Jerry’s question yesterday, a quote from Hawking on NPR this morning “Work gives meaning and purpose to your life”

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:17 am | Permalink

      You have to think that there will be a trivia question in the near future asking for the names of physicists who were born or died on Pi day.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      “In physics, a force is said to do work if, when acting, there is a displacement of the point of application in the direction of the force. ”

      … but I expect I should be scolded for being a pinhead if I said that was what he meant….

      • Simon Hayward
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:10 am | Permalink

        the context was advice to his children, “never stop working because…..”

        so probably

  7. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Must mention the win last night, but just in favor of the democrat. There will be a recount in this Pennsylvania congressional contest but just the beginning for taking back the congress.

  8. Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    “There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, and science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.” ― Stephen Hawking

    Or in short, “Science wins because it works.”

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:30 am | Permalink

      In science, truth always wins


  9. Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Michael Caine and Quincy Jones have had a habit of celebrating their birthday together:

  10. Dominic
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    He was a couple of months older than Sir John Sulston the Nobel winning geneticist who just died last week. Obviously 1942 was a good science vintage!

  11. David Harper
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    BBC Radio 4’s daily current affairs programme interviewed physicist Professor Brian Cox and cosmologist Professor Carlos Frenk this morning about Stephen Hawking’s legacy.

    If you can listen to BBC Radio 4 online, follow this link and skip forward to 2h 10m.

    • Christopher
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      He also recently played a part on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: The Hexagonal Phase, which I was listening to on way way home from work yesterday. It’s available as a podcast.

  12. John Black
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    With all due respect, who is Grania? I see her referenced by Jerry quite frequently, but I’ve never seen him explicitly describe this person. And (unless I’m blind) there’s no “guide to WEIT” posted around here?!

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      Grania is the person in charge, the deputy commander you might say. Whenever PCC is on the road she handles everything you see.

      • Richard
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

        Is she a mere human, or is she one of our feline overlords? People want to know.

        • Posted March 14, 2018 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

          If, so then the people also want to know if she is a *gay* feline overlord or not.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      It’s Grania Spingies of Cork, Republic of Ireland. She is one of the founding members of Atheist Ireland & her TWITTER PROFILE says: “Gamer, Elder Scrolls Devotee, CORK SKEPTICS , Atheist. Insanely in love with books & big dogs. All views are my dragon’s”

      • Christopher
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

        A cork skeptic? Does she prefer screw-caps or maybe box wine? 😬

        • Mark R.
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

          Good one…took me a sec, that makes it even better.

  13. John Black
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Oh, and with respect to the Simpson’s episode, I’ll always remember this Hawking quote when asked what his IQ is: “I have no idea. People who brag about their IQ are losers.”


    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      A prescient quote, in addition to being a good quote…

      But I guarantee Hawking’s IQ was astronomical

      Oh dear that just tumbled out of my keyboard I apologize

  14. Posted March 14, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    RIP SH. I still have my copy of _A Brief History of Time_ which my father got me way back when. At one point I thought I was going to become a physicist, but I don’t have the aptitude for it. Nevertheless the book kept up my childish (in the good sense) interest in the nature of the universe and got me partially where I am now anyway.


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