Monday: Hili dialogue

Yes, it’s Monday again: August 27, 2018, and National Burger Day. I’d have one, too, if I weren’t fasting. It also happens to be National Pots De Creme Day and National Banana Lovers Day.  I walked by the pond when it was still dark this morning, and there was no sign of Honey the duck. She may be gone for good.

On this day in 1859, crude oil was discovered in Titusville, Pennsylvania, leading to the construction of the world’s first commercially successful oil well. Here’s what it looked like—a far cry from today’s wells:

On this day in 1883, the volcano Krakatoa finally blew up in what is now Indonesia. The death toll was over 36,000 and the global climate didn’t return to normal until 1888, with abnormal rainfall and a cooling of the climate by more than a degree.  On August 27, 1896, the world’s shortest war took place: the Anglo-Zanzibar war. It lasted from 9 a.m. until 9:45: less than an hour, and, after some shelling, Zanzibar surrendered to England.

On August 27, 1939, the world’s first jet aircraft made its first flight: the turbojet-powered Heinkel He 178, commissioned by the Nazis. Here’s a short video of it flying (it could remain airborne for only 10 minutes because of the high fuel consumption. Hitler invaded Poland four days later, and no further progress on jets was made.

On this day in 1942 began the Sarny Massacre, in which the Germans and their minions killed between 14,000 and 18,000 (mostly Jews) in two days.  On this day in 1956, the first nuclear power plant to generate electricity on an industrial scale went on the grid: it was the station at Calder Hall in the UK.  Finally, on August 27, 1979, the Provisional IRA set a bomb that killed retired admiral (and former Viceroy of India) Lord Mountbatten, as well as three others, at Sligo in Ireland. A subsequent ambush killed 18 British Army soldiers. Here’s a short video documenting the assassination (another video with footage of the funeral is here).

Notables born on August 27 include Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770), Theodore Dreiser (1871), Carl Bosch (1874; Nobel Laureate), Man Ray (1890), C. S. Forester (1899), Lester Young (1909), and Barbara Bach (1947). Those who died on this day include Titian (1576), Frank Harris (1931), Ernest Lawrence (1958, Nobel Laureate), W. E. B. Du Bois (1963), Gracie Allen (1964), Le Corbusier (1965), Brian Epstein (1967), and Margaret Bourke-White (1971). Here’s one of Bourke-White’s photos, taken during the Depression:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the warm nights have lured Hili out on the tiles:

Hili: I’m going out for some night hunting.
A: When will you be back?
Hili: Probably at dawn.

In Polish:

Hili: Idę na nocne łowy.
Ja: Kiedy wrócisz?
Hili: Pewnie o świcie.

A tweet found by reader Gethyn. Look at that lovely drawing!!!! I’d love to have it on my wall.

Some tweets found by Matthew. In this first one, he’s asked me to “post this and ask readers”. So I will:

This mallard is a scalawag:

And the video:

A scuttling cuttlefish:

The Times of India has the better headline:

A clarinetist lures up a bollard:

Typical field work:

This is all too true:

From actor and director David Schneider (also via Matthew). Be sure to watch the video:

The lazy dog sat on the white sheep’s back:



  1. kieran
    Posted August 27, 2018 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    The three also killed where Timothy Knatchbull(14), Paul Maxwell(15) Fisherboy from Fermanagh and the next day Doreen Knatchbull (83).
    What makes this even worse is Mountbatten was trying to help secure peace by offering to act as an intermediary in the North.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted August 27, 2018 at 7:42 am | Permalink

      The last part reminiscent of the Israeli assassination of Folke Bernadotte.

  2. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 27, 2018 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    The Germans deployed Messerschmitt jets near the end of WW2, but it was too little, too late for them.

    When I was first starting to practice, I knew a lawyer in Miami who was wounded by strafing fire from one during the breakout from Normandy after D-Day.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 27, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      The Me262 was far the most advanced wartime jet aircraft. It would have been very formidable indeed if (a) production hadn’t been crippled at that stage of the war by shortages of materials and (b) Hitler hadn’t insisted on trying to turn it into a bomber.


      • David Evans
        Posted August 27, 2018 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

        It could be argued that the de Havilland Vampire was as good as the Me262. It flew in wartime but was just too late to see service, partly because its first flight was delayed by sending an engine to the US!

      • harrync
        Posted August 27, 2018 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        Good points, infiniteimprobabilit. And then there was also the problem of the high rate of fuel consumption. The ME262 could stay in the air less than 90 minutes, [which meant more takeoffs and landings, where the ME262 was most vulnerable]. Compare this with the over 4 1/2 hours endurance for the P51. And when your only source is synthetic fuel made from coal, fuel consumption becomes an even bigger problem.

  3. Barbara Radcliffe
    Posted August 27, 2018 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Funeral footage very moving. The Brits certainly know how to do ceremony be it funeral, wedding or coronation. (Whatever one thinks of Royals)…

  4. Linda Calhoun
    Posted August 27, 2018 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    May I add one to the birthday list?

    I found out this morning from Heather’s Homilies that mathematician Katherine Johnson is 100 years old today. Wow.


  5. darrelle
    Posted August 27, 2018 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    The fallacy is that the lines represent the arc length. They don’t. Which ever line the wheel is rolling on the other line would have to be elastic. What the model does demonstrate is that the rate of angular change must be the same at any distance from the center of a solid wheel.

    • Posted August 27, 2018 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      Yes. It is not an illusion, it is a cheat. The wheel center travels the same distance and turns once as well.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 27, 2018 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        Yes, the diagram doesn’t show that there is slippage between the wheel and the straight lines – for at least one of the lines.


    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted August 27, 2018 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      Or on hard surfaces, most likely the outer wheel surface would slip. (The outer surface would tend to have the lower surface pressure so lower dynamic friction. But I am fairly sure the result would depend on material, et cetera.)

      • Torbjörn Larsson
        Posted August 27, 2018 at 10:29 am | Permalink

        Oops, I was assuming a real construction; the initial comment was right of course, the idealized model would cheat in that way. (The real construction tells us that too of course. Potato, potatoe.)

      • Torbjörn Larsson
        Posted August 27, 2018 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        I am reminded of the train wheel curve effect and the need for conical wheels that was mentioned here some weeks ago. Same problem in different setting.

    • Jeff Lewis
      Posted August 27, 2018 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Well, I looked at this as an illusion, not a paradox. I mean, it’s obvious that if this is supposed to represent some type of spool or pulley and non-elastic ‘ropes’, it just doesn’t work. One of the ropes has to be stretching or shrinking to make it work out. Circumference = 2*π*R.

      So, when I watch the video, it really does look to me like the blue rope is non-elastic, and the red rope is getting stretched like a rubber band. To test if this was right, I took a screen capture, threw the image into a drafting program and measured everything. It turns out that it was an illusion. The red rope was non-elastic, and the blue rope was shrinking. If it were a physical analogy, the blue rope would be starting out the animation already stretched.

  6. Terry Sheldon
    Posted August 27, 2018 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    I was living in London at the time of Lord Mountbatten’s assassination. In a decision that I regret to this day, I chose to not attend the funeral procession.

  7. Jenny Haniver
    Posted August 27, 2018 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Beautiful stick insect. Though I rarely see them, for some reason, I’m quite partial to them.

    That sheep dog sure knows how to herd in style.

    Toward the end of the video of the duck crossing the wet concrete, my question was answered in the affirmative: Yep, it “pooped” along the way.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted August 27, 2018 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      Off topic, but I just learned that the White House flag is back at full staff. What a fit of pique, but typical.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted August 27, 2018 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        And the Balkans are on course to fragment again and re-Balkanize, playing musical chairs with various ethnic enclaves (if so, with predictable ethnic-based violence).

        • Posted October 13, 2018 at 7:08 am | Permalink

          To me, empires are the problem, not their fragmentation.

  8. Posted August 27, 2018 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    The falling tiles as analogy to the Meuller investigation would have been better if the last, largest tile to fall was orange.

  9. Claudia Baker
    Posted August 27, 2018 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    OT but, jesus h., another shooting in Florida! And Dana Loesch (who is as unhinged as Trump), twitters on about how there should have been good guys with guns there to take out the shooter. Yup, Dana, put guns fucking everywhere. That’ll solve the problem.

    • grasshopper
      Posted August 27, 2018 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      … put guns fucking everywhere. That’ll solve the problem.

      “This is a municipally funded AK-47. Break glass in case of mass shooting. The next nearest safety gun is across the road. Look both ways before crossing.”

      • Claudia Baker
        Posted August 27, 2018 at 3:21 pm | Permalink


      • Diane G
        Posted August 27, 2018 at 4:17 pm | Permalink


    • Posted August 27, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      This shooting seems like a perfect example of how putting guns everywhere leads to more deaths. It appears that one of the contestants in a video game contest at a pizza parlor was unhappy that he lost. Perhaps the winners taunted him. Who knows? He went and got his guns from his car, came back, and got his revenge. This is bound to happen more and more often until the laws are changed.

      • Claudia Baker
        Posted August 27, 2018 at 3:21 pm | Permalink



  10. SusanD
    Posted August 27, 2018 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    I think that the failure of the Nazis to proceed with jet development was an awesome turning point in history. What might have happened had they devoted their efforts towards jet flight at the start of the war instead of towards the buzz bombs at the end? Awesome!

  11. Posted August 27, 2018 at 8:42 pm | Permalink


  12. Kevin
    Posted August 29, 2018 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Professor Coyne,

    You’ve mentioned fasting in a number of your posts but, to my knowledge, you haven’t said much about why you’re doing it.

    Can you please share your philosophy behind your fasting?

    I think a bit on this would make a great article to your website! I suspect it would stir some interesting conversation 🙂


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