Wednesday: Hili dialogue

It’s Hump Day: Wednesday, August 8, 2018, and National Frozen Custard Day. I really should get to Scooter’s in Chicago: I’ve never been there, and it’s supposed to be one of the best ice-cream places in the U.S. Isn’t it sad I haven’t been? On to business:

Political news (h/t: Grania): This is the result of a new Ipsos/Daily Beast poll, and shows clearly that rejection of freedom of speech is not at all unique to the Left:

On August 8, 1908, Wilbur Wright made the brothers’ first public flight at a racecourse in Le Mans, France, and here it is. Note the launching apparatus:

In India on this day in 1942, Gandhi’s “Quit India” movement was launched, ultimately resulting in complete independence five years later.  On August 8, 1963, the Great Train Robbery took place in England:  gang of 15 train robbers stole £2.6 million in bank notes. That’s the equivalent of £50 million today. Most of the money was not recovered, but most of the ringleaders were caught and sentenced to jail.

Two events on August 8, 1969. First, the Manson family committed the Tate murders in California. Also, across the Atlantic, photographer Iain Macmillan took this photo, which of course became the cover of the Beatles’ Abbey Road.

On August 8, 1974, Richard Nixon took to television to announce his resignation from the American Presidency, which took effect at noon on August 9. I remember how elated we were that the miscreant President had gone for good.  On this day in 1990, Iraq occupied Kuwait and annexed the small country, setting off the Gulf War.

Notables born on August 8 include Emiliano Zapata (1879), Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1896; do read The Yearling!), Ernest Lawrence (1901, Nobel Laureate), Paul Dirac (1902, another Nobel Laureate in Physics), Dino De Laurentis (1919), Roger Penrose (1931), Mel Tillis (1932), Dustin Hoffman (1937), Keith Carradine (1949), and Roger Federer (1981).  Those who died on this day include the Roman emperor Trajan (117 AD), Johnny Dodds (1940), Cannonball Adderley (1975), Fay Wray (2004), Karen Black (2013), and Glen Campbell (last year). I’ve written before about what a great guitarist Campbell was. Here he is, later in his career, singing “Gentle on My Mind”, and putting out a superb guitar solo. (I’ve posted this before.) Note the other famous country stars:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Andrzej discuss one of the big criticisms leveled at atheism, first by Dostoevsky:

Hili: And if there is no Ceiling Cat is everything allowed?
A: Don’t even think about it.
In Polish:
Hili: A jeśli Kota Sufitowego nie ma, to czy wszystko wolno?
Ja: Nawet o tym nie myśl.

Tweets from Heather Hastie. Did you ever see the famous bee “waggle dance“, where honeybees dancing on a vertical comb inform their hivemates about the direction to and distance from a food source? Here’s one with the dance traced out. It’s a spectacular feat of animal behavior.

The waggle dance, however, isn’t limited to bees:

Yes, all losers except for the “Gadsden flag” (“Don’t Tread on Me”), which was flown by the Continental army.

A tweet by physicist Sean Carroll that got a lot of responses, including the one below it.

Tweets from Matthew. Here’s a literary quiz for you. Brush up your Shakespeare!

From July 30:

One embarrassed goalkeeper:

Mars on July 31:

A striking old book:


  1. Posted August 8, 2018 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    “Here are a selection Shakespearean sonnet quatrains”? Looks like AI wrote the intro too.

    I *think* the AI is pretty obvious, because they don’t make much sense! “he twas” is a dead give away.

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted August 8, 2018 at 6:58 am | Permalink

      I think that most people couldn’t really identify Shakespeare at the best of times. For a lot of people his vocabulary and phrasing is obscure enough to cloud meaning anyway. I mean, you only have to hear some professional actors delivering stilted blocks of prose to see how many of them don’t understand more than the general gist of the dialogue they are delivering.

      So before asking whether people can tell AI quatrains from Shakespeare’s, one should first discover whether they can identify Shakespeare’s in the first place.

      • Posted August 8, 2018 at 9:26 am | Permalink

        I think mkjones’ comment is less about Shakespear and more about AI. I think it’s interesting to note that, as sophisticated as AI is, it’s still possible to detect a non-human author.

    • Posted August 8, 2018 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      My guess is that C and F are the real deal.

      • danstarfish
        Posted August 8, 2018 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

        I agree on C and F. I also thought B.

        The Shakespeare ones were difficult to parse but they seemed to express ideas. The AI ones seemed more like gibberish that had stylistic resemblance, but had no thought behind it.

        Sonnet A seemed like the most obvious fake.

  2. pierluigi Ballabeni
    Posted August 8, 2018 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    You forgot today is International Cat Day?

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 8, 2018 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    I believe yesterday was Robert Mueller’s birthday. Happy one and keep up the good work.

    David McCullough wrote a pretty good book on the Wright Brothers a few years ago. Most surprising fact – The brothers were recognized by France and Europe first and ignored in the U.S.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 8, 2018 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    Not surprised by the poll results cited by Rick Wilson. With the exception of certain principled conservatives of the classical-liberalism school, the Right has long been for shit on Free Speech — from the bluenoses who banned Lolita and Naked Lunch and Tropic of Cancer, to the red-baiters who confiscated anarcho-syndicalist pamphlets, to compelled bible-reading and loyalty oaths in the classroom.

  5. Michael Fisher
    Posted August 8, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Here’s an INTERESTING BACKGROUND ARTICLE re Wilbur’s first European flight [as mentioned in the OP] at Hunaudières racecourse [for four legs] near Le Mans town [& adjacent to the four & two wheeled, 24 hr track], southwest of Paris. Louis Blériot was there along with other wingnuts & within a year he flew the Channel. The European tour was the aviation kickstarter.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 8, 2018 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    This may be the first time I’ve seen the Manson family and the Beatles mentioned in the same paragraph where the reference wasn’t to the White Album.

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 8, 2018 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    I remember how elated we were that the miscreant President had gone for good.

    Yet because the truthless bastard wouldn’t do the nation the simple courtesy of disappearing into his San Clemente compound to STFU, we still had Dick Nixon to kick around for a couple more decades.

    Don’t know there’s ever been a more maudlin display of self-pity than Nixon’s farewell address to the White House staff.

  8. TJR
    Posted August 8, 2018 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    You missed the biggest anniversary.

    Today is the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Amiens, the beginning of the end of WW1.

    For most people this is joint first with Khalkin-Gol as “The most important battle you’ve never heard of”.

    • Historian
      Posted August 8, 2018 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      Thanks for pointing this out. Among other things, it is interesting that this battle marked the end of trench warfare per Wikipedia.

      • Posted August 9, 2018 at 5:38 am | Permalink

        Casualty rates on both sides increased markedly after the end of trench warfare.

        We British think of the first day of the Somme as being the worst day ever, but the French had a worse day than that in 1914 and their casualties in the first month of the war are comparable to the casualties suffered by the British in the whole of the Battle of the Somme which lasted five months. The reason being that the soldiers were not in trenches.

        With my 20/20 hindsight, it is obvious that the Germans were finished after Amiens and it would have been better to do a peace deal at that point instead of grinding Germany down for several more months and then imposing eye watering terms that lead to the Second World War.

  9. David Harper
    Posted August 8, 2018 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Apropos the waggle dance, this is also the name of a rather good beer produced by the Charles Wells brewery here in England. It’s a light golden beer flavoured with honey.

  10. jaxkayaker
    Posted August 8, 2018 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    I’ve never read “The Yearling” but I have visited Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ house in Cross Creek, Florida. That probably doesn’t count as an acceptable substitute, though.

  11. drew
    Posted August 8, 2018 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    That goalkeeper was not nearly as embarrassed as the opposition player who shot quite wide of a completely open goal, with no defenders, straight on, from within the goalie box.

    • drew
      Posted August 8, 2018 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Re-watching, I guess he wasn’t within the goalie box, just out side of it. But he was in the penalty area, and only about one step outside the goal box.

      • mikeyc
        Posted August 8, 2018 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        I felt bad for him. The ball took a bad bounce just as he was kicking. It’s happened to Renaldo and Messi too.

    • pierluigi Ballabeni
      Posted August 8, 2018 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      Maybe they were celebrating altruism day in Algeria.

  12. Historian
    Posted August 8, 2018 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    The article by Sam Stein that Rick Wilson cited in his tweet is quite depressing. While Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to be quite anti-free press, a more than insignificant number of the latter and independents share this attitude. The corrosive effects of Trump’s war on the First Amendment is extraordinarily dangerous, much more than the rantings of the 100 leading “regressives” combined. Even Bret Stephens, conservative columnist at the NYT, considers Trump inciting violence against journalists.

    • mikeyc
      Posted August 8, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      I AM worried about this. Some of the footage I’ve seen of Trump rally mobs shouting obscenities at reporters is very frightening.

  13. jaxkayaker
    Posted August 8, 2018 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    On further reflection (pun intended) am I the only one to question the plausibility of Mars being bright enough to show a reflection on the ocean, or at least a reflection of that brightness?

    • David Harper
      Posted August 8, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      The orbit of Mars is somewhat eccentric, so its distance from the Earth at opposition can vary quite widely. This year sees one of the close oppositions, when Mars is near perihelion and therefore unusually close to the Earth. As a result, it is also unusually bright. The photograph may actually be genuine.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted August 8, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      Here’s another MARS REFLECTION ON WATER

      [Abdul Dremali, Rhode Island, Mars rising above the horizon on 13th of July at 10 p.m]

    • jaxkayaker
      Posted August 8, 2018 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, David and Michael.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted August 8, 2018 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      Nope, but you voiced it, I only wondered it on seeing it.

    • Diane G
      Posted August 8, 2018 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

      I’d wondered, too. Thank you, Michael, for the additional evidence.

      Been watching Mars most of the summer, but sadly I’m not near a lake or ocean.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted August 9, 2018 at 12:06 am | Permalink

        @Diane G. Also the eye sees a LOT less than that camera with a slow shutter – perhaps the unaided eye wouldn’t see a Mars trail in the water so easily

        Where I live I can see 50 [yes FIFTY] lights in the sky at night & some of ’em are 747s landing three miles away – even Rhode Island is only good for 5,000 sky objects or so

        Ignoring airplanes, meteor showers & artificial satellites the unaided human eye in perfect conditions can see around 5,000 objects: i.e. comets in our solar system [usually 0], planets in our solar system [5?], moons [1 or maybe 3 if you have exceptional sight] , individual stars, all of them being in our galaxy [5k to 9k?], extra-galactic star clusters of at least thousands of stars & galaxies [a dozen or two dozen?]. Of the 400,000,000,000 stars in our galaxy we can see only 0.0000002% of them, give a take a zero or two, & nearly all the visible ones are less than 1,000 light years away.

        I read somewhere that if you were randomly repositioned in the cosmos with our terrible seeing abilities you’d always [effectively] end up outside galaxies in intergalactic space with no light visible to you at all. Black.

  14. busterggi
    Posted August 8, 2018 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Gustave Whitehead didn’t need any launching apparatus.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted August 8, 2018 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Nor did Clément Ader, he used steam engines to make his 50m flight in 1890. Still the first powered manned flight, well preceding the Wright brothers.

  15. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted August 8, 2018 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Mars is just incredible right now. You shoudl not miss it. This sight happens every 15 to 17 years.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted August 8, 2018 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      Mars opposition: We are still in the risk window so keep an eye out for cylinders – perhaps the first one arrives in three weeks if it’s like last time [1938 being a hoax of course]: June 28-July 20 of 1907

      • busterggi
        Posted August 8, 2018 at 9:19 am | Permalink

        “[1938 being a hoax of course]”

        I blame John Bigboote for that.

        • mikeyc
          Posted August 8, 2018 at 11:02 am | Permalink

          Not so fast, monkey boy; that’s “Big Boo-TEH”.

      • busterggi
        Posted August 8, 2018 at 9:19 am | Permalink

        “[1938 being a hoax of course]”

        I blame John Bigboote for that.

      • Christopher
        Posted August 8, 2018 at 11:36 am | Permalink

        For the uninitiated, would you care to elaborate?

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted August 8, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

          HG Wells War of the Worlds was serialised in 1897 by Pearson’s Magazine – there’s no specific dates in it, but we know it’s set early in the next century. Nerd astronomers have concluded the story covers mid-1907 from various indications in the story about it being a Mars opposition etc. Ten cylinders full of merciless menace were launched by cannon from Mars over a period of a few weeks & each took about a month to journey over to us.

          Other sources say 1902, but I don’t think so!

          • Christopher
            Posted August 8, 2018 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

            Ooooh! Duh. Ive honestly never read any HG Wells, although I have certainly seen movie adaptations. I ought to remedy this deficiency in my literary education.

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted August 8, 2018 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

              He wrote & wrote & wrote. Ridiculously prolific in fact, opinion & fiction. He was a socialist who liked giving the establishment a regular good, solid kicking.

              War of The Worlds is nowt without Well’s excellent prose so do read the book. His early fiction is best, although I didn’t like The Time Machine because his political bias & general negativity towards the future ‘human’ shines through – depressing.

  16. Ruthann L. Richards
    Posted August 8, 2018 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    For cat lovers who read German: today is International Cat Day. This from Deutsche Welle:

  17. Posted August 8, 2018 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    That a large percentage of Republicans are for really bad stuff is just not news anymore.

  18. Posted August 8, 2018 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    a b a b
    c d c d
    e f e f
    g g

  19. Posted August 8, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    It bugs me a little every time one of these “AI creates X” articles comes out. I don’t know the details on this particular one as the article appears to be behind a paywall. They really don’t show much intelligence. The computer “author” doesn’t know what the words mean. The generated poetry is just the output of a sophisticated statistics function applied to Shakespeare’s body of work with an “AI” label slapped onto it.

  20. Posted August 8, 2018 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    The Left criticizing the Right about not upholding free speech is the pot calling the kettle black. Indeed, polls show Dems are more likely to favor curtailment of free speech than independents or republicans.

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