Thursday: Hili dialogue

It’s Thursday April 25, 2019. Posting may be light today as I have to hie downtown to the “Apple Genius Bar’ (who’s supposed to be the genius there?) to get the battery on my old—but perfectly serviceable—iPhone 5s replaced. It’s a lot cheaper than a new iPhone, and the new ones are too big to put in my pocket.

It’s National Zucchini Bread Day, a comestible I detest. Isn’t it ironic that the world’s worst vegetable is also the one that grows most prolifically? People are even forced to use it up by putting into cakes and breads! It’s also DNA Day by proclamation of Congress, celebrating the publication of Watson and Crick’s structure of “the molecule of life’ (see below).

On this day in 1792, the robber Nicolas J. Pelletier became the first person to be executed by the guillotine. Wikipedia adds to his biography, “The crowd, however, was dissatisfied with the guillotine. They felt it was too swift and ‘clinically effective’ to provide proper entertainment, as compared to previous execution methods, such as hanging, death-by-sword, or breaking at the wheel. The public even called out “Bring back our wooden gallows!” On that very same day, April 25, 1792 the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise”, was composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle.

On this day in 1859, ground was broken for the Suez Canal by engineers from France and Britain.  In 1898, the U.S. declared war on Spain, formally beginning the Spanish-American War. On April 25, 1915, the Battle of Gallipoli began, with the Gallipoli peninsula invaded by troops from Britain, France, India, Newfoundland, Australia, and New Zealand.  After 8 months of failure and slaughter (the latter on both sides), the Allied troops withdrew. The death toll was around 100,000.

It was on this day in 1953 that Watson and Crick published their groundbreaking paper in Nature suggesting the correct structure of DNA, “Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid“.  The paper, the most influential in biology of the 20th century, was only a bit more than a page long. Here is most of the text:


In 1954, it was on this day that the first practical solar-energy cell was demonstrated by Bell Labs. And, on April 25, 2007, Boris Yeltsin was buried in the first Russian Orthodox funeral of a leader since that of Emperor Alexander III in 1894.

Notables born on this day include Oliver Cromwell (1599), Walter de la Mare (1873), Wolfgang Pauli (1900), Edward R. Murrow (1908), Ella Fitzgerald (1917), Al Pacino (1940), Johan Cruyff (1947), and Dinesh D’Souza, (1961).

One of the greatest soccer players of our time, Cruyff perfected the famous “Cruyff Turn,” which you can see in the highlight video below (or here), and played for Ajax and Barcelona. A heavy smoker when young (I have no idea how you can play soccer so well with that habit), he died of lung cancer at 68.  You can get an idea of how good he was by watching this short video:

Those who took the Big Nap on April 25 include David Teniers the Younger (1690), William Cowper (1800), George Herriman (1944), Dexter Gordon (1990), Ginger Rogers (1995), and Bea Arthur (2009).

Herriman’s Ignatz and Krazy Kat

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Editor Hili refuses to do menial chores:

A: Come and help with the cleaning.
Hili: What were you smoking?
In Polish:
Ja: Chodź, pomożesz sprzątać.
Hili: Chyba coś ci zaszkodziło.
Here’s something I found on Facebook:

A tweet from reader Barry. What has this bipedal cat realized?

Tweets from Grania. This first one is fricking amazing: synthesizing speech from signals coming from brain neurons. Immensely useful, I’d say, and it works well. Have a look at the linked article, and be sure to put the sound on.

Who doesn’t love tiny black kittens?

Speaking of moggies, this is a very bizarre photo:

I knew vampire bats could amble, but didn’t realize that they could lope!

Bird knees are always above where you think they are:

Tweets from Matthew: a bee is born.

Twenty-five mice a day! (Does anybody know the species of owl?)

A spider mimicking an ant. Count the legs!

I retweeted the tweet above, and Outis sent a response: more ant mimics:

Three days of unnecessary deaths leading up to April 6:

And a first: reader Tim Anderson has supplied today’s black dog, whose name is Angus:


  1. Roger
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    “You’re all out of order!” Okay so that’s a misquote but that’s a better line so if there is no objection we shall proceed de lege ferenda.

  2. Dominic
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Also #Worldpenguinday!

    • Dominic
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:56 am | Permalink

      Argh! Yesterday… 😦

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    In honor of French National Anthem Day:

    Vive La France!

    • rickflick
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      Doesn’t Ilsa look terrific?

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted April 25, 2019 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        The moist look she gives Victor Laszlo as he marches forth to command the band play “La Marseilles” is priceless, isn’t it?

  4. TJR
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Also bear in mind that the stuff Cruyff did was much harder in his day.

    The lighter balls introduced from the 1994 world cup onwards mean that long-range shooting is much easier now, and the clampdown on hacking in the last 20-30 years means that running with the ball is much easier now.

    • Eddie Janssen
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      I agree. Just a slight correction. His name is Johan Cruijff with “ij” in stead of “y”.

  5. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    One wonders why iphone batteries aren’t easily removable. Then one could just buy a new battery on Ebay and just replace it oneself. One might even be able to buy cheaper third-party batteries for, say, $15. Or even keep one handy as a spare.

    I’m surprised Apple, with their mastery of technology, never thought of this.

    (I too have an ancient phone – Samsung S2. It does what I need, why change.)


    • DrBrydon
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      The phone manufacturers would prefer that people not be able to extend the life of their phones, but buy new ones. If a cell phone lasted ten years, the market would be much smaller.

      • Posted April 25, 2019 at 8:49 am | Permalink


      • rickflick
        Posted April 25, 2019 at 9:29 am | Permalink

        I was going to say much the same thing: The phone manufacturers are a bunch of avaricious and despicable human beings. They spend much of their time in conference rooms sitting around a table concocting schemes to rip you off.

    • Posted April 25, 2019 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      The phone would have to be very much more bulky if the battery was removable. The phone would have to accommodate the battery the plastic case of the battery and a bulkhead inside the phone to stop all the delicate internals from being exposed when the battery is not in place.

      Furthermore, it would be difficult to make such a phone water resistant.

      Jerry is a bit of an outlier as far as mobile phones are concerned. The 5s was superseded nearly five years ago by the 6 so most people will have upgraded at least once by now and not because the battery is dead, but because they want the new whizzy thing.

      Apple is actually better than a lot of manufacturers in terms of supporting old mobile phones. For example, when they release new versions of iOS, they do what they can to make sure older phones are supported (hardware allowing). Some manufacturers that use Android drop software support for phones after about a year.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted April 25, 2019 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

        Hmm, in my Samsung S2 the battery lifts out as easily as the SIM card and the microSD card. But it’s doubtless not water resistant.


        • Posted April 26, 2019 at 7:14 am | Permalink

          Plus the phone is bigger than it needs to be (or the battery is smaller than it could be) if the battery was not removable.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted April 26, 2019 at 7:57 am | Permalink

            Well the smartphone size is dictated by the screen size, I think. There’s a limit to how small it can be before it starts to get difficult to ‘type’ on the screen.

            In fact I usually carry a $25 ZTE as my regular phone. I only carry the Samsung if I’m going to want its extra facilities like apps, or I’m travelling with a second ‘global’ SIM card.

            For photos I use a proper camera (Panasonic TZ70) – with four spare batteries. (The ZTE will take photos in emergency, and they’re, umm, quite good for a $25 phone 🙂

            For ‘proper’ browsing I use a small laptop, when I can.

            My ideal portable device would be the size of a Samsung S2 (near enough to an iphone 5, I guess) but the screen would magically unfold to 10″ or so and a keyboard would magically unfold to a proper laptop-style keyboard. This is of course physically impossible. Anything less is a compromise, of course. Different people have different ideas of which compromise suits them best.


    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      I was looking on Amazon for the battery I mentioned in my other comment but since you said eBay, I checked and there it was. $9.95.

  6. Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    The chicks are, I think great horned owl – Bubo virginianus.

    • Paul Techsupport
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      Yes. Great Horned Owl chicks. Magnificent Owls

      Paul Peed

      • Paul Matthews
        Posted April 25, 2019 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

        I (rather belatedly) concur.

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    The “Cruyff Turn” strikes me as analogous to the “cross-over dribble” in basketball. Here’s Allen Iverson executing that move on Michael Jordan (at the time the NBA’s best defender), leaving MJ wondering where his sneakers went:

  8. DrBrydon
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Don’t like zucchini, but like zucchini bread. I think that cat realized that it could walk backwards on two legs, but didn’t know how to walk forwards. Like kids when they first learn to crawl.

  9. mrclaw69
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Not sure about the owlets but they look like Eurasian Eagle Owlets (Bubo bubo).

    Food intake suggests they’re a big owl species. And Eagle owls are massive.

    Not sure though as I’m only a bird fan rather than an expert.

    • mrclaw69
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      No – on balance I think @Graham is right. They’re Great horned owlets.

      The two babies look *very* similar at that age, but I didn’t pay attention to the eyes. Great horned have yellow eyes; Eagles have orange eyes.

      (Yellow eyed owls are day hunters; orange-eyed ones are crepuscular).

  10. rickflick
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    “These findings advance the clinical viability of using speech neuroprosthetic technology to restore spoken communication”. Doesn’t that sound promising?

  11. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I can vouch for iPhone ruggedness : I found a $10.00 battery for my 3GS with uncracked glass, instructions on the Internet, and one hour of absolutely undivided attention, and that was about six years ago. Phone works, battery is worn out though, and I cannot find the 3GS batteries last time I looked. I have an iPhone 6 opening tool – reverse clamps with suction cups, but not sure about opening it – screen is cracked.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

      I found instructions for the iphone battery on the Internet too. And yes, I’m brave (or stupid) enough to rip into a piece of consumer electronics (laptop or camera) with screwdrivers etc, though usually my gadgets are old enough that the cost of paying someone to fix them is equal to their value, so I’m not risking that much. But Apple products seem to be designed to discourage owners from taking them apart.

      On the other hand, my Samsung takes two minutes to replace the battery, no bravery or special tools needed.

      You could call it a matter of philosophy.


  12. Roger
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Tried some ratatouille once. Thought it would be fantastic since they made a whole movie for it. Bleh, a squash is a squash. You can’t put lipstick on a squash.

  13. Posted April 25, 2019 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    I like courgettes. I’m sceptical about the idea of making bread out of them since they are mostly water.

  14. Michael Fisher
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    1910 Paris Garden, Woman, Cat & Cannabis plant: I call bullshit [see image below of what the plant probably really is].

    The cannabis attribution is on zillions of cannabis sites utterly uncredited. The most likely truth is it’s simply a Japanese Maple – the Frogs went mental for all things Japanese because of Japan-themed pavilions at the 1900 Universal Exhibition, Paris. There were Japanese-themed parks & gardens springing up everywhere. The Garden looks Japanese themed to my eyes [no idea why I think think that other than bird cage shape & lacy tree] & the ‘cannabis’ plant is something like a Japanese Maple. Here is an example:


    I found the original internet version of the vintage postcard displayed on flickr by “Postaletrice” which is the flickr identity of Ana and Esteban, a couple of vintage postcard collectors from Spain. They own what they call the “Casas-Rodríguez Collection” of postcards.


    The particular postcard is by René Guilleminot, Boespflug et Cie, Paris, France – the Guilleminot family line were manufacturers of photographic plates and papers 1852 to 1994.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

      Hmm, I’m not sure if it’s Japanese maple. The maple is much more ‘bushy’ in shape. I’m not sure the plant in the photo looks like cannabis though, its leaves don’t look all that close to cannabis (resolution isn’t good enough to see if they’re saw-edged).

      I think the maple and cannabis leaves look more like each other, than either does to the plant in the photo.


  15. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    On April 25, 1915, the Battle of Gallipoli began, with the Gallipoli peninsula invaded by troops from Britain, France, India, Newfoundland, Australia, and New Zealand.

    An Australian colleague when we were working in Turkey took one of his leave periods to vacation in Turkey over the period of the centenary. He was rather surprised to find that the Turks celebrate it as a national celebration of a great victory over the invaders.
    Which it was.

  16. rickflick
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Decoding (EEG) brain signals to synthesize speech.

    It occurs to me that Stephen Hawking could have probably benefited from this kind of technology. Doubtless there are many others who could as well. And what next? Artificial vision?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted April 26, 2019 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      It always baffled me how Stephen Hawking could ever get out responses in any reasonable amount of time. Were all the video clips edited to cut out long pauses while he laboriously tapped out an answer on his keyboard? Was there some software assistance whereby he could select pre-recorded phrases? I just don’t know.


      • Michael Fisher
        Posted April 26, 2019 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        Hawking employed a library of pre-recorded stock phrases inputted by his post-docs. I imagine he had memorized a series of ‘bingo card’ tables – one for quips perhaps, another with his own quotes etc.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted April 26, 2019 at 9:46 am | Permalink

          Thanks, that explains a lot.


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