Wednesday: Hili dialogue

It’s Hump Day again: Wednesday, April 24, 2019, and it’s National Pigs-in-a-Blanket day. If you don’t know this passé American snack, here’s what it is. It’s okay, but just.


It’s also World Day for Laboratory Animals, honoring those creatures who gave their lives and still do—often unnecessarily—in scientific research. Here’s a monument at the University in St. Petersburg to the many cats who died as research animals; I photographed it in July of 2011, but shouldn’t have been smiling.

On this day in 1704, the first regularly issued newspaper in America (still a British colony) was published: The Boston News-Letter. On April 24, 1800, the U.S. Library of Congress was established by a bill signed by President John Adams; it began as a resource for Congress but now is a repository for all books—probably the largest library in the world.

On April 24, 1913, the lovely Woolworth Building in New York City was opened. 792 feet (241 m) high, it was the world’s tallest building from 1913 to 1930:

This is above my pay grade, so I’ll just quote Wikipedia. On this day in 1914, “The Franck–Hertz experiment, a pillar of quantum mechanics, is presented to the German Physical Society.” Perhaps readers can explain. And just two years later, the Worst Journey in the World began as Ernest Shackleton and five of his men, surviving a wrecked ship on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, launched a lifeboat from Elephant Island, where the rest of the Endurance‘s crew remained, on a trip to seek rescue. On May 20 the six men made it to safety (a whaling station) on South Georgia Island, and returned to Elephant Island to rescue the men (all of whom survived) on August 30. It was truly an endeavor at the limits of human endurance.

On this day in 1932, and I’ll quote Wikipedia again as the incident isn’t well known, “Benny Rothman leads the mass trespass of Kinder Scout, leading to substantial legal reforms in the United Kingdom.” As Wikipedia adds:

According to the Hayfield Kinder Trespass Group website, this act of civil disobedience was one of the most successful in British history. It arguably led to the passage of the National Parks legislation in 1949. The Pennine Way and other long-distance footpaths were established. Walkers’ rights to travel through common land and open country were protected by the CROW Act of 2000. Though controversial when it occurred, it has been interpreted as the embodiment of “working class struggle for the right to roam versus the rights of the wealthy to have exclusive use of moorlands for grouse shooting.”

On this day in 1953, Queen Elizabeth II knighted Winston Churchill, and in 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope was launched from the Space Shuttle Discovery. 

Notables born on April 24 include John Graunt (1620), Anthony Trollope (1815), Justin Wilson (1914, I gare-un-tee!), Shirley MacLaine (1934; 85 today), and Richard M. Daley and Barbra Steisand (both 1942).

Those who died on April 24 include Daniel Defoe (1731), Willa Cather (1947), Bud Abbott (1974), Estée Lauder (2004), and Robert Pirsig (2017). Pirsig is of course famous for writing Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (1974), a book I read at the time but didn’t find engrossing. But it was wildly popular, and almost a philosophical handbook for many of my generation. I wonder how it would fare if I reread it. Probably even worse!

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is celebrating the warmer weather by staying out all night, but she’s not quite convinced that Spring is here to stay:

Hili: Let’s hope there won’t be another frost.
A: Keep your paws crossed.
In Polish:
Hili: Żeby tylko nie przyszedł mróz.
Ja: Skrzyżuj łapki.

A meme posted by reader Gayle Ferguson. WORD!

A tweet from reader Barry (also sent by Matthew). This is big time cat failure:

Tweets from Grania: The origin of the frowny-face emoticon:

Epic flatulence battles in Japanese art? Well, live and learn:

Unbelievable: a cat cited repeatedly for TRESPASSING!

And First-Amendment attorney Ken White’s lawyerly response to Miska’s malfeasance:

Sam Harris takes the mickey out of Twitter. “Jack” is Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

This is apparently true, and I’m glad I shaved my beard off in about 1984:

Tweets from Matthew. The first shows a gigantic Auckland tree weta (cricket) from New Zealand. I saw two of these monsters when I visited there two years ago:

Matthew calls this a “fun factoid,” which it is:

What the bloody hell is this instrument? It’s real, and there are four playable ones still in existence. I’ve put the video linked to this tweet at the bottom; be sure to watch it.

Are there any octobasse players left on the planet?




  1. Alan Clark
    Posted April 24, 2019 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    In the UK Pigs in Blankets are wrapped in bacon, not pastry.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted April 24, 2019 at 7:13 am | Permalink

      If you throw away the sausage filling and just eat the (bacon) wrapping, they’re quite edible…


    • Dominic
      Posted April 24, 2019 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      yes – & proper sausages not red-skinned yuckiness…! 😉

    • chrism
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:25 am | Permalink

      These would seem to be sausage rolls with aspirations. Reminds me of some of the weird dishes once served in the now-endangered savory course, like devils on horseback, or indeed, angels on horseback.

  2. Terry Sheldon
    Posted April 24, 2019 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Back in the day, my mother always referred to stuffed cabbage as “pigs in a blanket” despite the fact that there was no pork involved in their making. Haven’t come across anyone else who calls them that.

    On a semi-related note, I always loved watching Justin Wilson’s cooking show! He was a funny guy and the food was damn good, too!

  3. David Evans
    Posted April 24, 2019 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    The night – eight linkage occurs also in Latin as nox (plural noctes) – octo. Most European language were influenced to a greater or lesser extent by Latin, so this in not surprising.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 24, 2019 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    … it’s National Pigs-in-a-Blanket day.

    Neighborhood I grew up in, “pigs-in-a-blanket” meant stuffed cabbages. First time I learned they meant this other thing, I was in college, and had gone back to my kinda WASP-y girlfriend’s hometown, to spend the weekend meeting her even more kinda WASP-y parents.

    They threw a “cocktail party” so some neighbors and friends could come meet their daughter’s college boyfriend. (In my old neighborhood, we didn’t have “cocktail parties”; people would stop by in the summer to have a beer with my folks sitting on the stoop.) Anyway, at the party, the girlfriend’s mom (who was always very sweet to me) walked by with a platter and asked me would I like to try some “pigs-in-a-blanket.”

    I looked down at the platter, and it was full of little wienies wrapped in Pillsbury dough. Took me a beat or two to figure out what was what, but then I smiled, said sure and thanks, grabbed one, and tossed it down my gullet. It was ok, but stuffed cabbages, they ain’t.

  5. UK-Sceptic
    Posted April 24, 2019 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Actually the largest library in the world is the British Library

  6. Jeff Chamberlain
    Posted April 24, 2019 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    The Montreal Symphony has an octobass and uses it occasionally.

    • rickflick
      Posted April 24, 2019 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      I think the octobass is a fascinating idea. I wonder if music is written for it, or if it is simply added in to existing music.

      • Glenda Palmer
        Posted April 24, 2019 at 12:13 pm | Permalink


      • Minus
        Posted April 24, 2019 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        Richard Strauss wrote it into some pieces but he used everything. As a (retired) bass player myself I’ve always felt the octobass was a massive waste of good wood.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted April 24, 2019 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        It is useless as a lone instrument because you can’t do a run of notes on it nor ‘hammer’ nor ‘chop’ a note [rapidly start or kill a note], thus melodies are completely out of the picture. Also it’s so damn slowwwwwwwwwww

        I’d not heard of this beast before today, but I found an interesting video of it [below] being used as part of an orchestra to add an impressive amount of ‘bottom’ to existing pieces that would benefit from it [Hector Berlioz & his era]. I think of it as like that immense gong used in some orchestral pieces to introduce a ‘rumble’ beneath the other instruments. Lovely.

        It is now a permanent part of the OSM roster of instruments:

        • BJ
          Posted April 24, 2019 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

          As I was scrolling and saw “World Premier – Permanent…” as the title of a Youtube video with a thumbnail of classical musicians, I was hoping it was a video of the album Permanent Waves by Rush. I’m disappointed now 😦

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted April 24, 2019 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

            Great band. Almost as good as Welsh metal rockers Budgie [big influence on Geddy Lee – no Lee as we know him without the almighty Budgie]

            • BJ
              Posted April 24, 2019 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

              I don’t know if you’re a Phish fan, but I got to see Trey Anastasio perform a bunch of Phish songs with the NY Philharmonic a few years ago. One of the most amazing experiences of my life.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted April 24, 2019 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

                We take different roads re Phish then I’m afraid, though there’s no denying the tightness & musicianship. I prefer a garage band approach to Rock with Budgie or Rush being the sophisticated, extended metal end of that spectrum. Within rock I’m averse to extended noodling [eg Cream more than half the time were crap], weak lyrics [eg Cream have three songs they should have done as instrumentals or not at all] & the genre spanning that’s not adding something new.

                Sonically they’re an ideal lie back & listen-and-get-high-in-a-dark-room band just like say the Alan Parsons Project was, but it wouldn’t matter if they never existed.

                Within ‘crossover’ music: it has to bust walls & make new structures a la Miles Davis who was perhaps the prime genius at fusion, but Phish don’t innovate when they do it IMO, to me it’s “Oh that bit is the Doors style reinterpreted” etc. It’s not going anywhere – like a bad Wings track or a lot of second era Pink Floyd. 🙂

                I know how personal music is, so I hope you take my music opinions as merely my opinions & they aren’t entirely rational of course.

              • BJ
                Posted April 24, 2019 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

                Oh, don’t worry, I’m not one of those Phish fans who thinks everybody must like Phish, although I do think you may not have heard some of the right songs from what you’ve said. A lot of their more popular songs are not the songs Phish fans see them for. If you want incredibly innovative instrumentals, check this out:

                Notice at 4:45 that the guitar and piano play the same progression in sync, and then they do it again with the guitar playing it one step behind the piano. After that part, the jam begins. I think it’s one of their best, but you may want to skip it.

                You’ll have to turn your volume way up for this one, but the guitar and piano interplay is beautiful. It’s their strange reimagining of the theme song to NPR’s All Things Considered:

                These are just their “softer” compositions, but I can give you some really hard rocking creative ones as well, if your interest is piqued.

              • BJ
                Posted April 24, 2019 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

                The reason I posted those is because it’s not “lie back & listen-and-get-high-in-a-dark-room” music, but stand-at-attention-and-listen-to-every-note-and-instrument music. The first one also involves some crazy changes and time signatures. But, like I said, those are two of their softer compositions, and I can give you some more hard rock-oriented creativity if you want it.

      • rickflick
        Posted April 24, 2019 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

        Not being a “person of music”, I like the addition of the octobass in the examples presented here. I suspect it will bounce around at the periphery of serious music until it is accepted or rejected, as I suppose, most other instruments have been. I’m hoping for full acceptance, which means all composers will begin to include it into the repertoire. Music is alive and growing, not static.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted April 25, 2019 at 3:48 am | Permalink

          Octobass: I agree! I hope the instrument sticks around like a bald lie.

          The problem is that something like 99% of listening devices today don’t emit enough energy at the bottom of the bottom end [especially sound to the trunk & face] & recording studios don’t record or mix it correctly anyway & Spotify [I’m guessing now about streaming] might strip it away or dull it. Double bass players already complain they are under-recorded [as in under-mixed into the ensemble sound] & they say it’s mostly studio equipment & techniques.

          In an age of digital wonders we’ve thrown out the low end because file size thinking, it’s expensive to have the mass required & ear devices [the buying public] can’t handle it anyway – leeeetle speakers look so cute sitting there on the shelf.

          • rickflick
            Posted April 25, 2019 at 5:54 am | Permalink

            In light of all that, I’m for octobass for live performances and something else (didgeridoo?) for the studio. 😎

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted April 24, 2019 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately, listening to the video, it seems to me that transients resulting from the dragging action of the bow on the strings predominate in the sound, giving it a stuttering quality. It would sound much more mellow if it was nearer to a true sine wave.


      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted April 24, 2019 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

        That’s what I was thinking.

        I wonder if proper training (from who?) for some potential octo virtuoso may result in better playing.

        Maybe a good player could dampen the transients until the bow hit the right velocity or feel or whatever and the ‘note’ became more pure?

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted April 24, 2019 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

          Did you listen/watch Eric Chappell, of the OSM playing octobass proficiently in the video I embedded just above your comment? He seems to manage just fine – any dissonant transients are buried in the ensemble sound. He plays close to the bridge in a mostly continuous contact style [sawing] so there’s no buzzes as would occur if he lowered the bow onto a still vibrating meaty lowest string [which has a very long decay time]. By playing closish to the bridge he avoids bow contact with the peak wobble of the heftiest string I think.

          HERE IS “Amazing Grace” instrumental duet for double bass & octobass. The octobass is used to produce an underlying drone that changes note at each bar of the double bass’ melody. It’s a bit like the left hand making long sustained bass triplet chords on a piano while the right hand is making the tune. Again, there are no detectable transient sounds. Notice how he uses his left hand to directly deaden the lowest string at the chorus or key change.

          Finally HERE IS the Norwegian Guro Skumsnes Moe playing a solo “short piece for octobass” [if that’s the title] wielding two bows with one bow dedicated to the lowest string & the other to the highest string – the middle string is untouched by bows & left to resonate. An interesting result where she adds loads of texture, to what are basically drones, by allowing her bows to ‘catch’ on the strings at times, varying bow pressure & playing both above & below the bridge. In a way she has harnessed the difficulties of playing the beast & made it part of the sound. She’s a noise artist & she’s a fan of the Velvets I say! 🙂

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted April 25, 2019 at 2:53 am | Permalink

            ‘Amazing Grace’ is indeed free of stuttering sounds. “It doesn’t have to always sound like a gigantic farting crocodile” – Youtube comment.

            They’re all there in the Guro Moe piece though, as the Youtube comments highlight.

            Need sub-woofers to listen to it!

            I wonder if a big pipe organ can get lower.


            • Michael Fisher
              Posted April 25, 2019 at 8:30 am | Permalink

              I looked it up. A pipe organ can go down to CCCC or 8Hz below human hearing.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted April 26, 2019 at 2:09 am | Permalink

                I guess you’re down into the frequency range of heavy diesel engines there 🙂


              • rickflick
                Posted April 26, 2019 at 6:15 am | Permalink

                …and thus it came to be, that the dieselphone was invented.

              • ThyroidPlanet
                Posted April 26, 2019 at 6:32 am | Permalink

                Below hearing and probably conventional audio support equipment but I’d guess not below feeling (I don’t know about this). I’d love to experience a pipe organ or these ultra-low instruments live, without sound support.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted April 26, 2019 at 7:35 am | Permalink

                Obviously the 8hz below-human-hearing organ pipe is designed to be felt or it wouldn’t exist as an organ pipe.

                GO HERE to ‘feel’ a 64 foot pipe or Sydney, Australia.

                Your wish to hear it without “sound support”? I’m having to guess what you mean… I suppose you mean you wish to hear it on its own & you’re expecting it to be silent to the ear, but felt by your body? That cannot be, because an organ pipe doesn’t just have the unhearable 8Hz fundamental tone, it also has the higher harmonics in the sound too. On the 64 foot long CCCC pipe those are:

                Unhearable 1st Harmonic, Octocontra, 64 feet, 8Hz, CCCC

                Unhearable to most people?. 2nd Harmonic, Subcontra, 32 feet, 16Hz, CCC

                3rd Harmonic, 21 feet ish, 24Hz, less than A, just below the lowest key on a piano

                4th Harmonic, Contra, 16 feet, 32Hz, CC

                etc, etc

                The above are just theoretical, there’s also the real life ‘partials’ sprinkled in between & then there’s squeaks & groans from the mechanicals.

              • ThyroidPlanet
                Posted April 26, 2019 at 8:01 am | Permalink

                I haven’t sat at a pipe organ and played it, or listed live to an ensemble with these types of instruments, but I again wonder if not only the individual ultra low instruments can be felt, but blend and resonate with everything in the room, including the conventional instruments and their music, and of that total music has some special sound character.

                But perhaps that too is obvious.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted April 26, 2019 at 8:30 am | Permalink

                Yes that’s mostly pretty obvious too – I hope my info was of interest all the same.

                The ultra low notes [infrasound] do resonate with stiff objects of a suitable large span, thus the tyre rumble of a heavy truck will do so with large panes of glass or roof rafters & floor beams. But orchestral infrasound doesn’t resonate with other instruments much & for the same reason it isn’t absorbed & dampened by other concert objects such as chairs & people.

                If you ever get the chance to listen to an unamplified chamber orchestra or an acoustic band of any description, you’ll see that the energy of the bass sounds fills the entire room & lessens hardly at all with distance [on the scale of a room or hall] while the higher notes get quieter quickly the further away you are from the group.

              • ThyroidPlanet
                Posted April 26, 2019 at 8:50 am | Permalink

                Any sound wave will interfere with another sound wave. I do not know the effect ultra low instrument sound waves have on the total music sound perceived by the ear.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted April 26, 2019 at 9:30 am | Permalink

                Perceptually [the human ear] there’s no interference at all between infrasound & the human hearing spectrum.

                Infrasound – long wavelength sounds of 17 metres [55ft] or longer, i.e. frequencies of 20Hz or less, do not make an audible difference to shorter audible wavelengths. There is no interference that we can detect with our ears

                The human ear is very unresponsive to wavelengths greater than about 1/3 of a metre [1ft] i.e. frequencies below 1,000Hz. So there’s a large gap between infrasound & the range of sound the ear is truly responsive to. To hear the interference you’re thinking of we’d need much bigger ear ‘instrumentation’. We aren’t evolved to hear a wave clearly that’s longer than one foot.

                The ‘feel’ is something else – it induces nausea, disgust & even fear.

              • ThyroidPlanet
                Posted April 26, 2019 at 9:37 am | Permalink

                it is irrelevant whether a sound wave is perceptible to any given ear. A wave will interfere constructively and destructively with other waves. The sum of the waves will be different if one of the sound wave sources is removed. That means the entire sum of all perceptible and imperceptible waves.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted April 26, 2019 at 9:54 am | Permalink

                Nope. Sorry. in theory you are correct, but perceptually you are not. A longish ocean swell of 55 feet isn’t going to interfere with a pattern of one foot waves in such a way as for us to say – “oh look that one foot wave is wavelength 13 inches here & 11 inches there – that’s the effect of the 55 foot swell you know”.

                That big gap in wavelength magnitudes matters, the unresponsiveness of the ear above & below its peak response range matters too. We are not sound oscilloscopes! We are one inch tall sailors in tiny boats who notice the waves coming at them that are spaced by one foot, but not the 55 foot waves that the one foot waves ride on.

              • ThyroidPlanet
                Posted April 26, 2019 at 10:13 am | Permalink

                You’re saying “nope” as if you’ve listened to an ultra low instrument played live in an ensemble, which I have never done. So I don’t know how it sounds.

                Instruments aren’t played in a vacuum.

                play the keys on a real acoustic piano or guitar and listen to the whole thing. Upper register notes will sound slightly different when playing lower register notes simultaneously – for instance the resonance, timbre. What you propose is that a piano played next to a played octobass will sound as if the octobass isn’t there, because human ears don’t detect octobass frequencies but that is not the question – the question is how the ultra low frequencies change the perceptible notes, through resonance effects and wave combination.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted April 26, 2019 at 11:12 am | Permalink

                I’ve already addressed your question – the “ultra low frequencies” DO NOT “change the perceptible notes, through resonance effects and wave combination”

                AND the human ear DOES hear octobass frequencies, nearly all the acoustic energy is in the audio range. The thickest string has a fundamental of around 16Hz which most people can’t hear, but that string’s second harmonic of 32Hz is close to the lowest note on a piano [around 27Hz].

                I am telling you that deep notes in & around the infra scale have no perceptual effect at all on sounds over 1000Hz where the human ear starts to perform sensitively.

                And YES I have been there in real life. I used to go to CBSO concerts monthly until mid-2017 starting back in the glory days of conductor Simon Rattle, Evelyn Glennie – the deaf percussionist & Nigel Kennedy the ‘punk’ violinist. There’s a couple of regular instruments in that ensemble which step over into infrasound: a huge metal gong & the orchestral bass drum large enough to set up house in. These beasts DID NOT ‘interfere’ with the sounds produced by instruments more in the centre of the human hearing range.

                It is not just frequencies, it is also energy levels – the lowest string on an octobass has much more human ear detectable energy transmitted in the 2nd & higher harmonics.

                If you don’t get that now then go to a bloomin’ concert with relevant instruments, before you speak ‘oscilloscope think’ at me.

  7. FB
    Posted April 24, 2019 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    The cat failure made think about free will. Where’s the “control”? And we’re like them.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 24, 2019 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    The Woolworth Building is still sitting there on lower Broadway. The Woolworth five-and-dime stores are all gone now, I think, although I did get a chance to eat at one of their famously desegregated lunch counters in the South before they bit the dust.

  9. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted April 24, 2019 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    apologies – I’m just putting this here because I can’t find where I read it on WEIT :

    to whomever was talking about Richard Thompson’s 1000 years of popular music, thank you! I’m just starting to listen – very interesting! Witty guy too!

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted April 24, 2019 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      I found it on a closed thread on why pop music today is very poor. Reader David W. – if anyone knows David W., please extend my thanks for drawing attention to 1000 Years of Popular Music.

  10. Jeff J
    Posted April 24, 2019 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    The He-Gassen scroll has a scene of a cat caught in the crossfire!

  11. darrelle
    Posted April 24, 2019 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    That Most Interesting Cat In The World “meme” gave me the best laugh I’ve had in a while.

    Crap. When my daughter sees this octobasse she’s going to harass me remorselessly to get one.

  12. BJ
    Posted April 24, 2019 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    So, here’s the original link to the news story about the “vicious” trespassing cat:

    This is utter insanity. The government official who runs the animal control facility is also a neighbor of the cat’s servant and, when he signed the order to have Miska locked up forever or euthanized, he was already writing up new infractions in case the order was vacated by a judge (which it was). Apparently, the official has a vendetta against this specific cat and even encouraged others to file complaints. He has been trying to prosecute the cat for years. He locked her up in a kennel for several months. This is insanity!

    This official should be removed from his job. Talk about a waste of government resources, overreaching bureaucracy, and abuse of power. He has assigned four different prosecutors to the case of a single cat because the cat sometimes annoys him and other people. The worst complaint the article lists is that the cat once bothered somebody else’s indoor cats by taunting them through the window.

    Meanwhile, Seattle is a sanctuary city in defiance of federal law. What the fuck is happening in this world?

    • Posted April 24, 2019 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      The official should be removed and get some much needed counselling.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted April 24, 2019 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

      It seems the animal ‘control’ geezer has issues.

      I would have thought there was conflict of interest at the very least if is is working on another complaint while the previous case is still being evaluated.

      He should be removed and charged with criminal cat not liking and locked up for 3 months, in solitary.

      • BJ
        Posted April 24, 2019 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

        “criminal cat not liking”

        I like this new law you’re proposing…

  13. W.Benson
    Posted April 24, 2019 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Re: Statue to cats giving their lives to science — Has any academician ever resigned in protest against cats being subjected to “cruel” experiments where he/she worked? I have at least one case. Around 1880 young German plant physiologist Andreas Franz Wilhelm Schimper joined Johns Hopkins University as a research fellow, but “resigned after a year due to his aversion to the use of cats as experimental animals” in a neighboring animal physiology lab (Eugene Cittadino, 1990, Nature as the Laboratory, p. 99). Schimper, among other accomplishments, was the first to recognize the similarity of cell organelles to bacteria, in his case chloroplasts to cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), and suggest that they originated through “endo-symbiosis”. The endosymbiosis concept was later championed by Lynn Margulis.

  14. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 24, 2019 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    … and in 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope was launched from the Space Shuttle Discovery.

    Damn, I think most of us have all but forgotten that the Hubble was a blurry bust — a punchline for comedians, even — right after its launch, until somebody went up there and fixed its mirror.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted April 24, 2019 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      They never fixed the mirror. They installed carefully crafted optics (the “COSTAR” module) which when deployed intersected the light path, applied the correction necessary, then passed the light back onto it’s original path.
      Of necessity, that meant a projection into the existing field of view of the instruments. Since all the corrections were done with front-surface mirrors, that meant at least three reflections to get the beam back onto it;s original path.
      And that is why imaged from the early Hubble instruments were square – the CCD shape – with a segment of three smaller squares cut out of one corner. Sometimes they “owned” it, and sometimes they obscured it by strategic positioning of captions.
      Later instruments had the correction built in and regained full use of the light beam.
      And the sad thing is, pretty much the same error had been made in the early years of the spy satellite programmes which had dictated the dimensions of the Space Shuttle, and thus of the Hubble. And the opticians who had seen that were not allowed to warn the Hubble opticians. Verily, there was a wailing and a gnashing of teeth.

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted April 24, 2019 at 9:09 pm | Permalink


  15. merilee
    Posted April 24, 2019 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Jerry, what’s with the lovely black dogs you’ve been posting at the bottom recently?

  16. Michael Fisher
    Posted April 24, 2019 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    …U.S. Library of Congress was established by a bill signed by President John Adams; it began as a resource for Congress but now is a repository for all books…

    It is not a repository for all books – far from it. Although it has millions of books, recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps & manuscripts it is a curated collection – I don’t know how it’s decided what books to preserve & I don’t know what % of ‘official’ books it represents. I suppose also nearly all, or all vanity publishing isn’t conserved. The vast majority of items are off site in ‘closed stacks’ – some portion of closed stack items are not available to the general public.

    For such an important institution the budget is pathetic & same for UK version.

    I wonder how we’re doing at conserving the digital side of things. 1% or less?

  17. jpetts
    Posted April 24, 2019 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Jerry – isn’t “”Word!” one of your most hated, er, words?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted April 24, 2019 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      It’s spoofery or teasing for effect – that’s how I would describe it.

  18. Steve Pells
    Posted April 24, 2019 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    The Worst Journey In The World was a side trip of Captain Scott’s expedition to Antarctica, not Shackleton’s Endurance one. There was a theory going at the time that penguins are the most “primitive” bird group, and to try and answer this question Scott sent a team to collect penguin eggs. This entailed a ~150 km (?) walk pulling a sledge, camping and sleeping in reindeer-skin sleeping bags; it took a couple of weeks. In the Antarctic winter, so permanently dark and never getting warmer than about -50. It’s described in Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s book of the same name, and certainly read like it was the worst.


    • Posted April 24, 2019 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      I know that: I co-opted the title of Scott’s narrative because I think Shackleton had a worse time. But I do like the evolutionary biology aspect of Scott’s trip, and will talk about it when I lecture in Antarctica this fall. Also, as I wrote in WEIT, Scott’s team was hauling a sled full of Glossoptera fossils when they holed up and froze–more evolutionary biology research!

  19. jahigginbotham
    Posted April 24, 2019 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    What does Gene Mueller have to say about the 30 infractions? He doesn’t seem anti-animal.

    Dr. Gene Mueller was recently awarded the 2016 Extra Mile Award by Puget Sound Working Cats for his positive work rescuing and re-homing feral cats.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted April 24, 2019 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

      No he doesn’t, from that report.

      But if there is any truth in the previous report, and seeing as it an actual legal matter before a judge it probably does, he has dimmed his glowing light somewhat.

      He signed a euthanize or deport order, it seems.
      If that is true, and the cat hasn’t killed or bitten anyone, bitten anyone not attacking it, then he seems to be disingenuous at best.

      I am disturbed constantly by dogs barking.
      Barking in the night, barking in the day, barking at me as I walk past.
      Dogs coming at me when I am walking.
      Dogs pulling on leads and barking at me while I am walking.
      And more.

      I have ‘never’ been bothered by a cat, ever.

      So I wonder what heinous crime warrants the death penalty for this cat.

      What do you think?

      • jahigginbotham
        Posted April 25, 2019 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know what the deal is. The original story (as so many accounts do) certainly misrepresents the situation.
        I could speculate on no evidence that some mixture of
        a) Mueller is pro-cat but thinks they should be kept indoors to minimize predation
        b) is a very petty, spiteful person.

        But that is not a firmly held opinion.

      • jahigginbotham
        Posted April 25, 2019 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know what the deal is. The original story (as so many accounts do) certainly misrepresents the situation.
        I could speculate on no evidence that some mixture of
        a) Mueller is pro-cat but thinks they should be kept indoors to minimize predation
        b) is a very petty, spiteful person.

        But that is not a firmly held opinion.

  20. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted April 24, 2019 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    This is above my pay grade, so I’ll just quote Wikipedia. On this day in 1914, “The Franck–Hertz experiment, a pillar of quantum mechanics, is presented to the German Physical Society.” Perhaps readers can explain.

    Maybe there is a joke here I don’t get since no one attempted it? In any case, I thank you for reminding me of this long forgotten experiment, and FWIW here goes my current take:

    This was the early days of quantum physics. Franck and Hertz made a new discovery when studying electron currents passing through dilute gas in a previously evacuated gas tube. Their interpretation of the nonlinear voltage-to-current response was that the bound electrons of the gas atoms were excited in discrete amounts due to “quantum energy levels”.

    The modern Schrödinger dynamic model is that the discretely delineated atom electron shells, the probability positions of bound electrons, are formed by the squared amplitudes of their wave functions in the potential set by the atom.

    [ ]

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted April 24, 2019 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

      That’s probably correct.

    • jahigginbotham
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

      I don’t see why the experiment would be considered a pillar of quantum mechanics.

      It was consistent with quantized energy levels and the Bohr model of the atom (which is classically invalid) but it doesn’t invoke the Schrödinger dynamic model of quantum mechanics.

  21. Posted April 24, 2019 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, I’d like to call your attention to an excellent panel discussion of the Mueller Report, hosted by the Brookings Institute. It’s over an hour in length but well worth watching:

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