Sunday: Hili dialogue

It’s Sunday, February 10, 2019, and a positively tropical day in Chicago, with temperatures soaring to 25°F (-4°C). (Snow is predicted for later today.) It’s National “Have a Brownie” Day (again, why the scare quotes? Are they just messing with us and we don’t really get brownies?). In Italy it’s National Memorial Day of the Exiles and Foibe, and if you don’t know what a foibe is, look it up.

On to the day in history. On February 10, 1840, Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, who died 21 years after the marriage, leaving Victoria bereft.  Moving to 1933, it was on this day that, in round 13 of a boxing match at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Primo Carnero knocked out Ernie Schaaf, who died four days later (Schaaf had influenza and brain damage from a previous match).

On this day in 1940, the characters Tom and Jerry first appeared in the cartoon Puss Gets the Boot. Talk about racist tropes: watch “Mammy” in this one. A stereotype of a black maid, Mammy appears at 2:27.

On February 10, 1962, the captured U2 spy-plane pilot Gary Powers, shot down two years earlier, was repatriated in exchange for the captured Russian spy Rudolf Abel. Powers later became a helicopter pilot for a radio station and died in a crash. On this day in 1967, the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, clarifying that the Vice-President would become President should the latter die or become incapacitated (earlier it was not clear whether the VP would assume the powers of the President without becoming President.  On February 10, 1996, the IBM computer Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov in chess.  But that was just one game, and Kasparov went on to win the match. However, the computer won the rematch.

Finally, it was on this day 12 years ago that Barack Obama announced his candidacy for President.

Notables born on this day include John Suckling (1609), Charles Lamb (1775), Boris Pasternak (1890), Jimmy Durante (1893), Bertolt Brecht (1898), Leontyne Price (1927), Jim and Lou Whittaker (twin climbers, 1929, both alive and 90 today), Mark Spitz (1950), and Laura Dern (1967).

The movie “Rambling Rose” (1991),starring Laura Dern as a housekeeper and nanny for a Southern family headed by Robert Duvall (Diane Ladd, Dern’s real mother, plays Duvall’s wife), is a fantastic film, and you should see it if you haven’t. (It has a 100% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes.)

Here’s a scene in which the promiscuous Dern is caught in the house with her boyfriend:

Those who bought the farm on February 10 include Montesquieu (1755), Honoré Daumier (1879), Joseph Lister (1912), Wilhelm Röntgen (1923, Nobel Laureate), Laura Ingalls Wilder (1957), Alex Haley (1992), Dave Van Ronk (2002), Arthur Miller (2005), and Shirley Temple (2014).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is dispirited with the world, like Henri the existentialist cat (I am told that Hili reads Polish, English, and Swedish but neither Yiddish nor Hebrew, even though she’s a Jewish cat.)

Hili: I can’t watch all this news from the wide world.
Malgorzata: So go to the sofa.
Hili: No, it’s enough just to turn away.
In Polish:
Hili: Nie mogę patrzeć na te wszystkie wiadomości ze świata.
Małgorzata: To idź na sofę.
Hili: Nie, wystarczy się odwrócić.

And something I found on Facebook:

Tweets from Heather Hastie. I wonder what kind of smoke is in that bubble.

I once found a beaver skull and extracted the incisors like this. Watch and learn a biology lesson:

Literal dogsledding. Heather says this:

This is the sort of thing our Labrador Hiram used to do – if we were doing stuff, he found a way to join in and do the same. We don’t have snow, so he never did this exact thing, but he did copy us sliding down mudslides and waterfalls.

Tweets from Grania, the first with a strange Japanese gif:

Why didn’t the photographer rescue the puppy?

Cat rescue! (I may have posted this before):

From reader Nilou: a rare kakapo chick, which, with care, will grow up into another specimen of the world’s only flightless parrot:

Tweets from Matthew. What fun this would have been, but of course you have to be a brave person to get there in the first place.

I haven’t read this, but I’m VERY curious to know how they know which animals are conscious.

This is undoubtedly part of the “Unscience an Animal” thread.



  1. Christopher
    Posted February 10, 2019 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Tom and Jerry May have originated way back in 1940 but those mammy cartoons as well as some unfortunate one by Looney Tunes, were still being shown when I was a child, between 35 and 40 years ago. That doesn’t mean that African-Americans young and old were not offended at the time, it doesn’t mean I approve of them now even though I watched and loved them as a child, but it does show how much our society has changed for the better in the intervening years. We would all do well to remember that.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted February 10, 2019 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      I remember those cartoons back in the 1950s and of course on black and white television. I also have a vague recollection of seeing a live minstrel show performed at the local movie theater in the mid 1950s. As kids we use to go to the theater to movies all the time but this old theater had a stage and balcony as well. How and why I happened to see this performance, I have no idea but I certainly remember it even today.

      • Christopher
        Posted February 10, 2019 at 9:12 am | Permalink

        There were a lot of really questionable things in cartoons back then, and maybe we will feel like that in the future about stuff kids watch today. I recall Tom hand rolling cigarettes in one cartoon, there was drinking, implied alcoholism, the Pink Panther with his cigarette in a long thin holder, not to mention a fair bit of implied drug use, and of course the sex stuff like Pepe Le Pue, I would love to ask the cartoonists just what the hell were you thinking?!

        • BJ
          Posted February 10, 2019 at 10:41 am | Permalink

          Cartoons weren’t just for kids back then. There was a lot of adult content by design, and there was even a lot of really dark (no pun intended) material. They can’t really be compared to more contemporary Looney Tunes, which was aimed solely at children and made to be as inoffensive as possible.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted February 10, 2019 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

            “Cartoons weren’t just for kids back then.”

            Or now. Try watching Cool World or even Rango. Definitely aimed at a mature audience. (And by ‘mature’ I don’t mean old, I just mean adult. But not ‘adult’ as in porn. Sheesh doesn’t the euphemisation process of hijacking perfectly innocent words screw us all up when we want to express something clearly?)


        • Posted February 10, 2019 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

          I have to say “so what” to the cigarette smoking. I remember watching those cartoons as a child and not thinking anything of it because a lot of the real adults I saw every day were smokers.

          What I do remember about Tom and Jerry was lots of debate about whether people like me (i.e. children) should be allowed to watch it because of all the violence. I remember thinking “don’t these grown ups realise these are cartoons? They’re not real.”

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted February 10, 2019 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        The Black and White Minstrel Show was shown on primetime BBC TV from 1958 to 1978. It continued for another 10 years as a stage show. I remember watching it with the family in the mid-60s. My Mum loved it. Unthinkable these days!

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted February 10, 2019 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

          My mother loved it too. I found it eminently watchable, even though it wasn’t quite ‘my’ music, because it was so well produced and with excellent singers.


  2. W.T. Effingham
    Posted February 10, 2019 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    The young man with the bubble-control/smoke(dry-ice vapor?) talents is now being recruited by tRump’s staff to assist in their smokescreen/bubble department.\s Huckasands is nervous about this.

  3. pablo
    Posted February 10, 2019 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    I thought that Hallucigenia turned out to a body part of a larger animal fossil.

    • Posted February 10, 2019 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      That was various bits of Anomalocaris.

  4. Merilee
    Posted February 10, 2019 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Why is Mammy calling Tom “Jasper”?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 10, 2019 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      “Puss gets the boot” starred Jasper & Jinx & didn’t have the familiar “Tom & Jerry” as part of the title. It was meant to be a one-off , but it was so well liked by the public that it became the first of a series. The names were Tom & Jerry from the second cartoon onwards, but I don’t know why they changed the names.

      The MAMMY TWO SHOES Wiki is interesting – as attitudes changes fat, black Mammy was edited out of Tom & Jerry & replaced by a thin, white woman. This was done retroactively so there’s a “Puss gets the boot” out there with a revoiced Mammy [& perhaps new scenes drawn]. Whoopi Goldberg was all for the restoration of the originals as it was part of race relations history.

      • Merilee
        Posted February 10, 2019 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        Interesting! Never heard of Jasper. I like that possibly it was Mammy’s own house after all.

  5. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted February 10, 2019 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I used to do the ‘ol smoke in a bubble trick quite a lot in college, but never to this scale. The smoke is likely from an e-cigarrete device, which makes a very white vapor.

  6. BJ
    Posted February 10, 2019 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Wow, I really am disappointed by the content of that book about ducks. I thought it would be either about how to make them pay for their crimes, or how to make them give you money.

    I hate when publishers use misleading titles…

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted February 10, 2019 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      ‘hold accountable’ (as in that tweet) deserves to be the subject of utter derision. It’s a mealy-mouthed phrase that often equates directly to revenge, scapegoating or witch-hunts.

      ‘[Something bad] has happened, *somebody* must be held accountable.’

      My usual reaction is ‘shit happens, get over it.’


  7. Posted February 10, 2019 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Re ‘consciousness evolving once’

    I’m no biologist, but I do know a thing or two about woo-based crypto-pseudo-science, which is what that abstract reads like — assertions presented as fact, glued together with loopy reasoning.

  8. Posted February 10, 2019 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    It always amazed me that NASA let the Apollo dune buggy go so fast. It is not as if they could call AAA if something went wrong. I guess they figured the risk of an accident was low compared to that of getting there and back.

    • Posted February 10, 2019 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      And in much lower gravity (a sixth that on Earth) you don’t come down with nearly as big a bump.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted February 10, 2019 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      It would never be permitted here on Earth. Where is the roll-over protection? The impact-absorbing crumple zones? Seat belts? Air bags? Reversing camera? Traction control? ABS?

      (As a side issue, just think how much performance they could get out of the thing with modern batteries. Last week I was trudging up the hill from Waitakere Dam – a 400-foot climb – and a guy and a kid went past me on an electric skateboard. That’s some battery power!)


    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted February 10, 2019 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      I wouldn’t judge the velocity from a processed movie. Their speed record seems to have been shy of 20 km/h [ ], but the cruise speed was perhaps half that or slow running speed.

      • Posted February 10, 2019 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        Actually, I thought the point of the processing was to make a more accurate rendition. I would think that the speed we see here is its true speed. Do you think otherwise?

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted February 10, 2019 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

          I wish I had the time to look into this more. Ideally we would have to look at the original film roll that went to the Moon to see what the true speed of the LRV looked like to the observers on the moon. And we’d need the specs of the camera of course.

          HERE is the original 16 mm film copied on Earth to a “B roll”* copy & then transferred to digital video. It is un-stabilised & there’s no times on the frames we’re looking at. The LVR looks half or 2/3 the speed of the stabilised version at 60 fps** link HERE

          I suspect the fancy stabilised version is too fast, but I don’t know for sure!

          * for day to day use – I assume the original film that went to the Moon is kept locked up somewhere very secure] for film transferred to video.
          ** I assume frames were computer interpolated to get it up to 60fps

          • Posted February 10, 2019 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

            The fact that it kicks up so much lunar dirt tells me it is going pretty fast, even accounting for the reduced gravity. I’ve always been surprised at the speed, even when it was initially broadcast. Of course, my expectations don’t matter.

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted February 10, 2019 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

              I put up two videos – did you compare them?

              We are watching John Young driving LRV 002 on Ap16. Ap17 LRV 003 achieved the record speed of around 11 mph. I think Young hit 5 or 6 mph [guess] & the max permitted for safety was around 8 mph.

              I don’t think your dust observation is valid. The LRV has open woven wire wheels [you could I think for fun use one of them in a giant food mixer] ploughing through lunar dust far finer than talcum powder in 1/6 gravity with no air resistance. We can expect a lot of wheel slippage as the LRV bounces along with wheels losing ground contact. Also those wheels spin up rapidly [lots of torque] – electric motor 80/1 ratio stepping down from 10,000 rpm [I think – haven’t checked recently & my memory is old]. I think the front wheels have decoupled separate motors to assist with turning/grip too [again – from memory]

              All in all a lot of dust for not much speed

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted February 10, 2019 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

              I’ve found out that the Apollo 16 battery operated movie camera used 16mm colour print film magazines that could be swapped out by spacesuited hand. Magazine run time versus frame rate is from 87 minutes at one fps to 3.6 minutes at 24 fps. It needs to be 24 fps for audio to be included i.e. slower = no audio.

              To go from 24 fps > to interpolated 60 fps with stabilisation is easy to do on home computer today with Adobe etc, but I’m wondering if the editor [not NASA BTW] just doubled the frames thus faster on playback on the 60 fps version. I’ll have to time the same segment in both to see. The two look different speeds, but maybe an illusion.

              • Posted February 11, 2019 at 1:14 am | Permalink

                You are nothing but thorough! Thanks for the info.

  9. Posted February 10, 2019 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    The woo surrounding consciousness never ends! Just this morning I read the abstract of a new paper: “The Mind-Object Identity: A Solution to the Hard Problem of Consciousness” by Riccardo Manzotti. Its thesis: “One’s experience of an object is identical with the object itself.” I haven’t read the paper but I’m very, very skeptical. I just don’t get why so many feel the need to resort to crazy ideas to explain consciousness.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted February 10, 2019 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      That can’t be right. Different people will have entirely different experiences of the same object depending on their circumstances. So they can’t be identical.

      (Unless there’s fuzzing of the definition of ‘identical’ going on).


      • Posted February 10, 2019 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        I agree but this is a common element to some of these theories. They are somehow mystified how a blue object causes us to experience a “blue” sensation. Of course, sometimes it doesn’t, as in the famous “Blue/Black White/Gold Dress” controversy. I wonder how they explain that away — but not enough to waste time reading their paper.

        • Torbjörn Larsson
          Posted February 10, 2019 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

          Is this the philosophic “qualia” question? I thought the experiment where they add genes for new opsins to rats and they learn to see the new colors tested well that such experiences are plastic. (And how else could they be?)

          • Posted February 10, 2019 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

            Yes. “Qualia” is just the fancy name they give to perceptual experiences. I have no problem with the word and its definition but some explanations of why we have qualia and where they come from are silly, IMHO. The source of the problem is the self-reference inherent in any consciousness theory that seeks to explain qualia. It is difficult for a brain to explain its own processing. On the other hand, it is easy to understand that rats can (or cannot) see color but it is impossible to know what they really experience when doing so.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted February 10, 2019 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      From the abstract:

      “Because all life is based on cells, any evolutionary theory of the emergence of sentience and consciousness must be grounded in mechanisms that take place in prokaryotes, the simplest unicellular species.”

      So I want to respond that multicellularity does not take place in unicellular species, but I guess their point is that some of the mechanisms that glue multicellular membranes together evolved in ancestral unicellular lineages. To wit, “three cellular structures and mechanisms that likely play critical roles here …”. It is Penrose et al molecular hypotheses all over again, except here they conclude the opposite to human exceptionality.

      I just don’t have the energy for these loose hypotheses.

      • Posted February 10, 2019 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

        Agreed. Furthemore, I don’t even have energy for the problem they think they are solving. Consciousness is an interesting subject that contains a lot of mystery but not as much as they seem to think.

    • Posted February 11, 2019 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      That’s just subjective idealism.

      • Posted February 11, 2019 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        Sure, I suppose it is. What’s your point? Are you a believer?

  10. Posted February 10, 2019 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    How do you think, why is boxing still a mainstream sport?

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 10, 2019 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      I do not consider boxing a sport. (And I will not defend my position to anyone decides to hate me for this comment. That’s their problem, not mine.)

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted February 10, 2019 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

        Why not a sport? It’s pervaded by ridiculous hype and publicity of the most vulgar sort, huge sums of money change hands, the participants all (probably) take performance-enhancing drugs and say they don’t, many of them end up seriously injured or brain damaged…
        ticks all the boxes, how is it not a sport?
        [/extreme cynicism]


  11. rickflick
    Posted February 10, 2019 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    The Apollo footage has a constantly shifting black frame. This is likely due to processing to reduce the effects of vibration and hold the image steady. In some applications, the perimeter is simply cropped off so you just see the steady image. In this case they must have decided to leave the shifting frame in so none of the actual image is lost.

  12. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted February 10, 2019 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    “Why didn’t the photographer rescue the puppy?”

    You know what geese are like.

    I suspect the necessary steps would be
    1. Shoot goose
    2. Rescue puppy

    Okay, seriously, how would one ‘rescue’ the puppy and remain undamaged?


    • Nobody Special
      Posted February 10, 2019 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      Pick the pup up. It’s a goose, not a T-Rex. Yes, geese are aggressive but they’re all noise with nothing that could really harm a person.
      There’s a common belief that geese and swans have the strength in their wings to break a person’s arm or leg, but bird bones are nothing like as strong as human bones and so the bird will always come off worse.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted February 10, 2019 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

        Okay. I will take comfort from that next time I am confronted by a goose. 🙂


  13. Posted February 11, 2019 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    More than bravery to get to the moon. I have that, but not the inner ears, as I discovered to my disappointment as a kid.

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