Wednesday: Hili dialogue

It’s Wednesday: December 26, 2018, and the second day of The Six Days of Coynezaa. I hope everyone got some good presents and nice noms. It’s National Candy Cane Day in the U.S. and St. Stephen’s Day—a public holiday in Alsace, Austria, Catalonia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland. In the UK it’s Boxing Day, and I still don’t know how it got that name. It’s also a Bank Holiday, which also is a bit mysterious. Are banks government institutions in the UK? Those are Big Questions, and so I’ll leave them to Templeton. But Boxing Day is of importance to one special group:

Not much happened in history today. On Boxing Day of 1860, the first “inter-club English association football match” took place, with Hallam playing Sheffield in Sheffield. Curiously, the Association Football page of Wikipedia doesn’t mention this.  Exactly two years later, the biggest mass execution in U.S. history took place in Manakoto, Minnesota, where 38 Native Americans of the Dakota tribe were hung. Wikipedia reports, “The mass execution was performed publicly on a single scaffold platform. After regimental surgeons pronounced the prisoners dead, they were buried en masse in a trench in the sand of the riverbank. Before they were buried, an unknown person nicknamed “Dr. Sheardown” possibly removed some of the prisoners’ skin. Small boxes purportedly containing the skin later were sold in Mankato.”

On this day in 1898, Marie and Pierre Curie announced the isolation of radium.  Both won the Nobel Prize in Physics for this and related work in 1903.  Marie Curie is the only woman to have won the Nobel Prize twice, and one of only two people to have won it twice in different fields (hers was physics and chemistry). Can you name the other two-field winner? On this day in 1919, Babe Ruth, playing for the Boston Red sox, was sold to the New York Yankees; this produced the “Curse of the Bambino” legend, which supposedly blames this ill-advised trade on the fact that the Red Sox did not win a World Series until 2004.

Here’s Marie Curie in her lab. She was born in Poland but moved to France at age 24. The element “polonium,” which she discovered, is named after her native country.

On December 26, 1963, the two Beatles songs “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “I Saw Her Standing There” were released in the U.S.; it was the beginning of the worldwide frenzy of Beatlemania, vestiges of which still remain in folks like me. Finally, on this day in 1991, the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union dissolved the Soviet Union, bringing an end to the Cold War (it seems to have revived a bit).

Notables born on this day include Mary Somerville (1780), Charles Babbage (1791), Henry Miller (1891), Mao Zedong (1893), Steve Allen (1921), Abdul “Duke Fakir of the Four Tops (1935), Phil Spector (1939, in a prison hospital for murder, and in very bad health) and David Sedaris (1956).

Those who died on this day include Frederic Remington (1909), Gorgeous George (1963), Harry S. Truman (1972), Jack Benny (1996), and JonBenét Ramsey (1996, murdered at age 6; crime still unsolved).

Here’s one of Remington’s paintings of the Old West: “The Scout: Friends or Enemies”:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, I’m told that “Hili just wants to talk and she doesn’t know what about. She doesn’t want to admit to it, either, so she is subtly throwing the ball to Cyrus.”

Hili: All this has to be discussed.
Cyrus: What?
Hili: Everything.
In Polish:
Hili: Trzeba to wszystko przedyskutować.
Cyrus: Co?
Hili: Wszystko.

A cat cartoon from reader Laurie:

And a d*g cartoon (sort of) from Diana MacPherson:

Tweets from Matthew:

This is stupendous! Ah, technology!

Adam Calhoun has posted tweets showing that animals have emotions and weird cognitive abilities. Here are two:

This dude was nearly lunch! Notice how the orca follows as he’s being towed—like a fish following bait!

DO NOT DO THIS! The guy is a jerk.

Tweets from Grania. How can you not smile at this one!

If I showed this one before, well, here it is again:

Another one to make you grin (though I hear koalas can bite):

Orchestra mishap!

Blue penguin rehab:


  1. David Duncan
    Posted December 26, 2018 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    “Another one to make you grin (though I hear koalas can bite)”

    They can also pee on you.

  2. Derec Avery
    Posted December 26, 2018 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Is it bad of me that I laughed at the video of the drummer nailing his colleague with his drumstick? In any case, hope the bruises on her face weren’t too bad and that she didn’t get a concussion.

    And also . . Red Panda eating grapes . . . Awwww, how cute. 🙂

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted December 26, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      Drummer mishap fits the series “You had one job!”

  3. Richard Jones
    Posted December 26, 2018 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    It’s Boxing Day in Canada too. I have heard that it was the day when the servants got their Christmas presents (boxes). Sounds a bit dubious.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted December 26, 2018 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      I think all the Commonwealth is having Boxing Day. I’ve already partaken in online sales. Now that we also have Black Friday in Canada because of the need to stem the flow of shoppers to the US, it’s a total sales glut from November to January!

      • Richard Jones
        Posted December 26, 2018 at 10:08 am | Permalink

        Fortunately we don’t need more stuff!

  4. Posted December 26, 2018 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    On Boxing Day, you give small boxed gifts to your servants, service folk, shop keepers, delivery persons, et al.

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 26, 2018 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Might say back in those days when buying the 45s was the cheapest way to get the music, the Beatles put both songs on the same 45. No one was doing that either.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 26, 2018 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      Yeah, unlike American bands, the Beatles didn’t do “B” sides. That’s how they dominated the US charts.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted December 26, 2018 at 8:27 am | Permalink

        I believe a 45 was close to a dollar, even then, so you got two hits for a dollar or less. Big money back then.

      • Posted December 26, 2018 at 9:25 am | Permalink

        I don’t believe the was the case. It’s just that even their B sides tended to be really good songs. Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane was explicitly a double A side for political reasons – Paul and John needed equal billing.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted December 26, 2018 at 9:37 am | Permalink

          Without debating the record business that much in the 50 and early 60 the trend was to put the good song on one side and a d*g on the other. Certainly the Beatles did not have many d*gs but putting good songs on both sides was kind of a new thing.

  6. Jim batterson
    Posted December 26, 2018 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    There is a very informative biography of babbage: charles babbage, pioneer of the computer by anthony hyman, princeton university press 1982. He was a tremendously inventive engineer just at the start of the industrial revolution in england. It has been years since i read it, but i recall discussions of his analytical engine computing machine and his data taking on train ride quality to help inform a political policy decision on whether to make all british railroads narrow gauge (north and miners) or wider gauge (south and bankers). Interesting science result and unsurprising political decision. Maybe in a used book store.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 26, 2018 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      The result of the ‘gauge wars’ was probably a foregone conclusion.

      Brunel devised his Broad Gauge for the Great Western Railway in 1835, ten years after mainline railway development began in Britain. Within ten years after that, the lines had extended to the point where ‘break of gauge’ was causing major problems at trans-shipment points. In 1846 a Parliamentary commission decided on ‘standard gauge’ and no more broad gauge lines were authorised except in Great Western Railway ‘territory’.

      Standard gauge mileage exceeded that of broad gauge by several times, and the costs per mile of converting standard gauge to broad would have been very substantial (most structures would have had to be rebuilt) whereas the cost per mile of converting broad to standard were small by comparison.

      So there was only ever going to be one result.

      Also of relevance to Babbage’s studies of ride quality, the quality of the ride depends far more on track construction and maintenance standards than gauge. Initially the Great Western had an appalling bumpy ride due to the rails being supported on piles at intervals; this was soon fixed by Brunel and (probably by the time of Babbage’s study) its track had the reputation of being one of the best in the country. But then, so did one of its chief rivals, the standard gauge London & North Western.

      What seems amazing now is the speed with which things happened. The first public railway (Stockton & Darlington) in 1825, the first main line (Liverpool & Manchester) in 1830, and by 1850 most of the main lines were in place.


  7. CAS
    Posted December 26, 2018 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Linus Pauling, my inspiration for going to Caltech, won prizes in Chemistry and a Peace Prize.

  8. Diana MacPherson
    Posted December 26, 2018 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Thanks to our own Ant Allan for finding the artist of the Satan puppy painting:

    I had no idea this was a contemporary artist. I figured it was something painted in the 1800s. You can even buy greeting cards on Etsy:

    • ploubere
      Posted December 26, 2018 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      Thanks for that info. Entertaining work.

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted December 26, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      He also appears to be able to paint cats! Examples here and here.

    • Diane G
      Posted December 26, 2018 at 9:11 pm | Permalink


  9. James Heard
    Posted December 26, 2018 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    With regard to the other person who won two individual Nobel prizes in different disciplines, wasn’t that Linus Pauling who won an individual prize in chemistry and then another individual prize for Peace?

  10. Michael Fisher
    Posted December 26, 2018 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    McCartney’s bass groove on I saw Her Standing There which I think he nicked from a Chuck Berry record – playing this while singing is some trick! It’s too far back in the normal mix [drowned out by drums & the vocals] for one to appreciate all the perfect embellishments McCartney threw at this. Brilliant:

    • Richard Bond
      Posted December 26, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      Interesting! I had no idea that bass guitar could be so intricate. My best friend at university was a classically trained guitarist who answered an advertisement for a bass guitarist in the university rock band, and thoroughly enjoyed his time with it. He ended up on the permanent staff at CERN. Who says that physics and culture do not mix?

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted December 26, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        Well there’s not many – Feynman of course. They’re too busy cooking up recipes that can’t be baked in todays ovens!

        Back to bass: The Ox [AKA Thunderfingers] was better [in a free style way] than McCartney & then there’s Jack Bruce who did masterful work with a few quite well known bands – with Zappa on Apostrophe (‘) comes to mind, but it’s extreme niche so here’s a bit of The Ox isolated on Won’t Get Fooled Again:

    • rickflick
      Posted December 26, 2018 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      Amazing skill. I wish I was gifted like that. As they say, some people haz it and some don’t.

  11. rickflick
    Posted December 26, 2018 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    The cookie cutter making machine is pretty elaborate. I imagine the set up takes quite a bit of time for a product that will sell for a few pennies. Fun to watch.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 26, 2018 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      The complex stainless steel cookie cutters with one rolled edge [for safety] go for around $5 each. Not a great business model having to switch dies twice a day [or whatevs] so as to have a range of shapes. My mate Pat up the road from me has a retail shop called Icing World & she makes custom pink plastic Cookie Cutter shapes to order on a 3D printer. It’s on display working non-stop & it’s quite mesmerising. It looks like a microwave oven in shape & size with a glass door & internal lights.

      The cake/cookie/icing biz is very interesting – it’s economy proof, same as the funeral biz.

      • rickflick
        Posted December 26, 2018 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

        Can you film the 3D printer in action? Sounds like another “fun to watch”.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted December 26, 2018 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

          I will

          • rickflick
            Posted December 26, 2018 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

            Bless you. 😎

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 26, 2018 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      Well those will be standard pneumatic cylinders. The pressure required to bend the thin steel strip won’t be very great.

      The dies will have had to be carefully milled but only in one plane and extreme precision wouldn’t be required. There will have had to be some careful design to ensure the perimeter of the shape matches the circumference of the steel strip. And the mounting plate for the cylinders will need to have been carefully drilled but again, just a fairly simple medium-precision operation.

      So I guess we’d be talking about an initial cost in the thousands but not tens of thousands.

      Changing the setup for a different shape would, I guess, mean changing the mounting plate, bolting the cylinders to the new plate, and fitting new dies to the rods. Probably take a couple of hours.

      But fascinating to watch!


      • rickflick
        Posted December 26, 2018 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

        Yes, in some ways this is a simple setup. The trick is to take advantage of all the technological advances over the past 200 years or so. 😎
        I imagine the first version was to make them completely by hand.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted December 27, 2018 at 12:17 am | Permalink

          Yes. I would imagine the original apparatus would have consisted of the elaborate centre shape and the metal ring would have been tapped into shape by hand using a drift.


          • Michael Fisher
            Posted December 27, 2018 at 1:08 am | Permalink

            No – tapping does not work well on springy stainless steel. The original manual process was to take a strip of steel & make each bend sequentially in the same way as 3D lettering was engineered for signage: using a manual channel letter bending machine. It requires a flat outline shape to work to as a visual aid. Here is an example of one, though note the bars that come into contact with the strip can be of other diameters, or square cross section or triangle etc.

            Another route is the vintage cookie cutter which was made from a malleable sheet material such as tin or aluminium & the shape was pressed to make a tin dish like these with handles on the back:

            I’ve also seen old strip copper ones made simply with pliers I assume – they can be postage stamp sized.

            • rickflick
              Posted December 27, 2018 at 8:58 am | Permalink

              That’s the kind of knowledge that can be useful before homesteading for fun and profit or post-Armageddon. It’s a warm feeling to know you could start over from letter bending machines to the Large Hadron Collider.

  12. ploubere
    Posted December 26, 2018 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    There’s an excellent This American Life episode on the hanging of the 38 Dakotas in Minnesota. Episode 479: Little War on the Prairie.

  13. Posted December 26, 2018 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Nice videos!

  14. Posted December 26, 2018 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    You might have posted this other video of a swimmer in New Zealand who was surrounded by a pod of orcas, but here goes anyway:

  15. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted December 26, 2018 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    That dude was not nearly Orca lunch. Orca are quite well known for not eating people.

    If it’s the incident I’m thinking of, he was interviewed on TV and seemed more exhilarated than frightened by the encounter. The dude, not the orca, that is.

    It is illegal (in NZ) to approach closer than 100 metres to any marine mammal, but of course this doesn’t apply if the marine mammal is the one doing the approaching 😉


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 26, 2018 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      Googling ‘Youtube Orca NZ’ brings up a swag of close encounters with orcas.

      Generally the scariest thing about the encounters is the headlines.

      Although it’s illegal to harass any marine mammal, it’s apparent from most of the videos that it’s quite definitely the orcas that are in control of the situation.


  16. Dianna Scott
    Posted December 26, 2018 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    News from Henri.

  17. Barney
    Posted December 28, 2018 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    What makes a British bank holiday an ‘official’ holiday, from the OED:

    “The Bank Holidays Act of 1871 established the first statutory bank holidays (bills due on any of these days being payable on the following day)”

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