Sunday: Hili dialogue

It’s Sunday, and the Lord decrees that ye shall not pick up sticks this day on pain of death. It’s May 19, 2019, and and National Devil’s Food Cake Day. (If that is what Satan eats, let me go to Hell!) It’s also Hepatitis Testing Day (I’m clean).

On this day in 1536, Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife, was beheaded for adultery, treason, and incest. Just 35, she faced death bravely. This report came from William Kingston, the Constable of the Tower of London:

This morning she sent for me, that I might be with her at such time as she received the good Lord, to the intent I should hear her speak as touching her innocency alway to be clear. And in the writing of this she sent for me, and at my coming she said, ‘Mr. Kingston, I hear I shall not die afore noon, and I am very sorry therefore, for I thought to be dead by this time and past my pain.’ I told her it should be no pain, it was so little. And then she said, ‘I heard say the executioner was very good, and I have a little neck,’ and then put her hands about it, laughing heartily. I have seen many men and also women executed, and that they have been in great sorrow, and to my knowledge this lady has much joy in death. Sir, her almoner is continually with her, and had been since two o’clock after midnight.

On this day in 1568, Elizabeth I of England ordered the arrest of Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary was beheaded 19 years later.  On May 19, 1743, the French polymath Jean-Pierre Christin developed the Centigrade temperature scale. I can use it without converting in from about 12-30° C—the range a Drosophila person uses, but I have to do the mental conversion outside that range (F = [C X  1.8] + 32).  On this day in 1780, a weird event occurred in the U.S.: New England’s Dark Dark Day, in which the skies got very dark over New England and parts of Canada. It was probably due to smoke from forests fires.

On May 19, 1919, Kemal Atatürk landed at Samsun on the coast of the Black Sea, launching the Turkish War of Independence.  And on this day in 1962, there was a birthday tribute to President John F. Kennedy in New York City’s Madison Square Garden, during which Marilyn Monroe sang her salacious version of “Happy Birthday” to JFK. I’ve put the famous rendition below.  Monroe died less than three months after she sang this. (She was, of course, one of the many women bedded by JFK as President and before.)

On May 19, 1963, the New York Post published Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous Letter from Birmingham Jail (you can find it here). Finally, it was one year ago today that Prince Harry wed Meghan Markle at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor; the pair has now produced a son who is about sixth in line for the throne. I couldn’t care less.

Notables born on this day include Johns Hopkins (1795), Nellie Melba (1861), Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881), Ho Chi Minh (1890), Max Perutz (1914, Nobel Laureate), Abraham Pais (1918), Pol Pot and Malcolm X (both 1925), Nora Ephron (1941), Pete Townshend (1945), and Joey Ramone (1951).

Those who shuffled off this mortal coil on May 19 include Anne Boleyn (1536; see above), José Martí (1895), T. E. Lawrence (1935), Ogden Nash (1971), Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1994), and Happy Rockefeller (2015).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the beasts are bored:

Hili: We are all waiting.
A: What for?
Hili: Any entertainment.
In Polish:
Hili: Wszyscy oczekujemy.
Ja: Na co?
Hili: Na jakąś atrakcję.

Cat of the Day from Reader James, who explains:

I was just in São Paulo, Brazil, for a week for work and went to an exhibit at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) where there was an exhibit on Tarsila do Amaral, an important figure in early 20th century Modernism.

In one of her paintings, The Family (1925), there is a rather bemused looking cat who is clearly part of the family. Attached is a pic I took of the painting and a focus on the feline family member.

A great Kliban cartoon, especially appropriate as we’re predicted to have severe storms today (h/t: Stash Krod):

And a cat shrink:

Something I tweeted (h/t: Greg Mayer):

A tweet from Nilou. Most of these merganserlings are probably stolen from another mom or were orphans. I feel sorry for the mom!

Tweets from Grania. I don’t understand this first one but I guess most people do. Perhaps a reader can explain it to me:

Heather Hastie, Huge Hedgehog Fan, will like this one:

I once befriended an echidna named Francis at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. You couldn’t pet it on the topside very well, but it loved a belly rub. And one time inserted its tongue between my finger and my ring!


Tweets from Matthew.  This hen beat Katie by three!

In honor of yesterday’s Eruption Anniversary. The new glacier is only 20 years old, and I had a hard time spotting it in the photo:

This is spectacular:

I saw this in Costa Rica as a second-year graduate student taking a Tropical Ecology course. These fluffy white bats are among the world’s cutest mammals:




  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted May 19, 2019 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    0 : 32
    10 : 50
    20 : 68
    30 : 86

    To navigate between, use 1.8

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      I don’t know which news item that refers to but I guess that’s Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion?


    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      “To navigate between, use 1.8”

      To go from Celsius to Fahrenheit you multiply by 1.8 then add 32.

      To go from Fahrenheit to Celius you subtract 32 then multiply by 0.55555.

      • merilee
        Posted May 19, 2019 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        Or 9/5 or 5/9. Much easier to do in your head. Or double and take away 10%. I’ve lived in Canada long enough now to do it by instinct. We have an F thermometer in the house and C in the car.

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted May 19, 2019 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

          9/5 and 5/9 are the same day as the last day of February

    • grasshopper
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      I have not seen that equivalence guide before. 🙂
      Here is a palindromic equivalence guide, too.
      16 : 61
      28 : 82

      • merilee
        Posted May 19, 2019 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        Love the palindromes!
        I always remember 25C=77F from STP in chemistry.

  2. Serendipitydawg
    Posted May 19, 2019 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Deleting a live table would certainly concentrate the mind better than any input of caffeine… the interval between pressing enter and realising is generally measured in ohnoseconds, there is usually one onosecond before the heart starts to race.

    • Christopher
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 7:16 am | Permalink

      And what, may I ask, is a “live table”?

      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted May 19, 2019 at 7:23 am | Permalink

        Databases use tables to navigate the vast quantities of data that they store as quickly as possible. A live table would be somewhat important to the operation of anything using the database (a website, for example).

      • rickflick
        Posted May 19, 2019 at 7:59 am | Permalink

        This video explains in very clear language exactly what a live table is and how to delete from it:

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted May 19, 2019 at 9:15 am | Permalink

          I like how the video author (?) processed their voice as ( I figure) a measure to prevent wackos from storing their voice in a database and using it to make fake phone calls to, likely, high value targets – credit cards company, landlords, … take out pizza….

          • rickflick
            Posted May 19, 2019 at 11:41 am | Permalink

            There must be some irony in that.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted May 19, 2019 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

            It’s a text to speech conversion program of which there are many available online. The YouTube channel author “Weblesson” isn’t using a bot to protect their natural voice from being ripped, but because they speak English not at all, or ungrammatically or with a heavy accent. Sample of their writing: “In Video we have learn how to fetch data from database and Insert data to database using stored procedure in Mysql and PHP.”

            A lot of techy ‘how to’ YouTube channels are out of India & other advancing nations where English is widely spoken, but with a regional dialect [rather like how Scots English is difficult for many non-Scots to grok]. Sometimes it’s tech students putting up their class notes to assist other students.

            The other main reason you’ll find robot English on the YouTubes involves pirate monetized automated channels which rip text content from the front page of online news sites & then the bot make a short video about each news item. These YT channels can put up dozens of videos a day – each as soon as possible after harvesting the story from a legit source. The object is to garner clicks when someone searches for that air crash or new royal baby. YT profits from this & does nothing to stop it.

            It’s a race to the bottom.

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted May 19, 2019 at 10:33 am | Permalink

          I must watch that one… deleting from a table is one thing, deleting the entire table is another… and surprisingly easy to do 😀

          My worst moment was subsequently finding that the staff where I did it had a procedure each morning that involved clicking OK to continue on the dialogue that indicated that the backup had failed the previous night. Furthermore they had instituted this procedure more than six months earlier instead of mentioning to anyone that the backups weren’t happening. That was the point my heart started to race and the two hour countdown to opening time commenced.

          • rickflick
            Posted May 19, 2019 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

            As with many organizational panics, “What we have here, is a failure to communicate.”

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      Perhaps Little Bobby Tables can explain it in words of one biologist length or shorter.

    • GBJames
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      Oh, yeah. Big time.

    • Tim Anderson
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Codd’s Rule Number 7 seems pertinent in this context. But just because a thing is possible doesn’t make it desirable.

  3. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted May 19, 2019 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    I worked the list of numbers to memorize for each interval of 10

    0 0
    1 1.8
    2 3.6
    3 5.4
    4 7.2
    5 9 <-for mnemonic purposes no decimal
    6 10.8
    7 12.6
    8 14.4
    9 16.4

    … been meaning to do that for a while!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      Misprint I think, the last number should be 16.2. 🙂


      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted May 19, 2019 at 7:54 am | Permalink

        I was checking if anyone was paying attention

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted May 19, 2019 at 8:42 am | Permalink

          “Spot the deliberate error.”
          Or, as a friend who used to type people’s manuscripts for them would put it, “I’ve inserted 4 ‘Judas pages’ for you to find in the proof reading.”
          When there were 3.

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      9 degrees celsius is not 16.2 degrees Fahrenheit. If that is what you are suggesting.

      16.2 degrees Fahrenheit is well below the freezing point of water 9 degrees Celsius is well above it. 9 degrees Celsius is 48.2 Fahrenheit.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 19, 2019 at 9:17 am | Permalink

        No, he was just giving the intervals between 32, 50, 68 degrees F (or 0, 10, 20 degrees C)

        I do it mentally, take the degrees C, divide by 5, multiply by 9, add 32.


    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      The idea is on the spot, you say

      “It’s 5 out, that’s 41”

      “it’s 15 out, that’s 59.” <- easiest one

      “It’s 25 out, that’s 77”

      “It’s 35 out, that’s global warming”

      • Jonathan Wallace
        Posted May 20, 2019 at 11:30 am | Permalink

        My apologies – I completely misunderstood what you were doing there.

  4. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted May 19, 2019 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    The crashed lorry with ‘brakes’ written on it is a genuine example of irony, so it probably wouldn’t have come up in Alanis Morissette’s song of the same name, since her definition of ‘irony’ includes ‘rain on your wedding day’.
    Which as many stand up routines have pointed out, isn’t ironic, it’s just just bad luck.

    “It’s like snow-e-ow / when they promised sleet / it’s like brand new shoes / when you have no feet / etc.”

    • davidintoronto
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      Apparently, the usage is debatable; and Alanis may not have been wrong.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted May 19, 2019 at 10:21 am | Permalink

        Yes, I remember looking it up when I was a kid and discovering that the dictionary definition of ‘irony’ was actually pretty broad. Broad to the point of unhelpful – it was something like ‘an unexpected, surprising event’. Nothing any more specific than that.

        But even so, her definition of ‘ironic’ changes throughout the song; sometimes she uses it in the normal sense, and sometimes it’s just a euphemism for shit luck.

    • drew
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      You want irony? Think about this:

      In a song called Ironic, none of the examples of irony are actually ironic. Isn’t that ironic?

    • Terry Sheldon
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      I guess it’s a symptom of my advancing age that the first thing I thought of wasn’t the Alanis Morissette song. It was “Thirty thousand pounds of bananas…”

      • drew
        Posted May 19, 2019 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

        When I was kid I wore out my parents’ LP of Verities and Balderdash listing to that song.

  5. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted May 19, 2019 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    I’m always a bit surprised when I watch that Marilyn Monroe performance, just because it was so obviously, overtly sexual, and the president was a married man, and this was the early sixties…I would’ve thought it would’ve scandalised the nation(of course maybe it did, but if so that part has been forgotten by history).

    I cannot imagine the reaction of the GOP if, say, Beyonce, had sung something similarly overt for Barack Obama during his presidency.

    Maybe it tells us that American conservatism was actually _less_ extreme and more reasonable in terms of behaviour, dialogue, openness, back then than it is now – even though plenty of the things they openly believed and campaigned for were frankly horrifying. They believed in segregation, but also made their repulsive, hypocritical arguments in something like a normal fashion, on media that were not so hysterically polarised as they are today. They had a certain worshipful(apologies) respect for law and order, for not embarrassing American politics, they hadn’t quite started leaning into the anti-intellectual populism that would later dominate and their equivalents of Alex Jones weren’t allowed anywhere near the media.

    I know this is far too idealised a picture, but…what went wrong on the right?

    • rickflick
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      what went wrong on the right?

      Demographics? The baby boomers aged from pot smoking hippies to opioid junkies.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      Maybe it tells us that the hypocrisy was as strong in those days as today. After all, they were humans then too, and in barely a generation there is unlikely to have been any significant change.
      Besides, having a “mistress” then was as unacceptable in a politician as Stormy Daniels was to new father Trump while he was trying to get his pecker up for running for President.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      What went wrong with the right?

      I can tell you what went wrong with the Republican Party: Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” brought the racists disaffected by passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into the Party. Ronald Reagan kicked off his first presidential campaign in Neshoba County, Mississippi, site of the murder of three civil-rights workers, and brought in the evangelicals. Poppy Bush ran the “Willie Horton” ad. The Tea Party arose after the election of the nation’s first black president. And Donald Trump polished off the project by bringing his “Birtherism” followers into the Grand Old Party.

      There’s a lot more, but that’s the hard nut of it for anyone with a diminished attention span.

      E.J. Dionne recently wrote a book answering your question, Why the Right Went Wrong.

      • GBJames
        Posted May 19, 2019 at 9:11 am | Permalink

        Indeed. Today’s Republican Party is the inevitable consequence of a conscious decision to appeal to racism and religious fervor. Evangelicals are trained from birth to rely on “alternative facts” while relentlessly pushing others to conform to faith doctrine. Eventually, if you let it go on long enough, they take over. Home-grown Christian Taliban.

      • Historian
        Posted May 19, 2019 at 10:01 am | Permalink

        For an enlightening and in-depth discussion of the role of evangelicals in politics, I recommend this article by four scholars. One of them, Lerone A. Martin, notes:

        “The political expressions of modern white evangelicalism have shifted on a few issues, including foreign policy approaches to Russia. However, there are themes among modern white evangelicals today that harken back to yesteryear, including the utilization of the traditional jeremiad in religious and political discourse, belief in a worldwide religious conspiracy, abortion and sexuality, the courting of white supremacist ideas and support, and the overwhelming support of laisse faire/free market capitalism.”

        John Fea states:

        “Fear, the pursuit of power, and an approach to public policy built on an unhealthy dose of nostalgia have plagued evangelical politics for a long time. Since the 1970s, the Christian Right has followed a well-known political playbook. Its members want to elect the right president of the United States who will appoint the right Supreme Court justices who will then overturn decisions that the Christian Right believes have undermined the republic’s Christian foundations. In the past, this playbook was inseparable from the moral character of the candidate. In 2016, however, the Christian Right executed the playbook in support of a candidate known for his sexual escapades, nativism, deceit, xenophobia, racism, and misogyny. This is a new development. The playbook survived despite the candidate. This is a testimony to the playbook’s power and the role that Christian Right leaders such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Roberston played in reshaping American political culture.”

        The Republican Party has captured the evangelicals (or maybe it’s the reverse) in response to the Brown and Roe decisions. Through Trump and his Supreme Court picks, evangelicals believe now is their last chance to return to an age of white Christian domination of American society. Reluctantly, the evangelicals have had to make an alliance with Catholics, but such things happen when you get involved in politics – you need allies. It is hard to believe that atheists and skeptics could vote for the Republican Party, the party of religion, but maybe some of them have more important priorities than the institution of religious values as part of public policy.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted May 19, 2019 at 10:57 am | Permalink

        That’s the most frequently recurring and convincing narrative. Tricky’s got a lot to answer for.
        As a non-American looking in, another moment that seems significant was when the law that enshrined at least a modicum of political balance in US radio was junked, and the Rush Limbaughs and Alex Joneses immediately started infiltrating the airwaves and colonising it for the right.

        That seemed to destroy the myth that the public actually want to listen to the truth – just corner your audience and beat them like a drum with the same outrage-inducing reactionary talking points and they actually _prefer it_ to all those shows with sane hosts and fact checkers. Then the same approach migrated onto TV with Fox News.

        By now, the right-wing media and the GOP are coiled around one another like those weird, codependent tree-pairs you sometimes see, where their trunks have been suffocatingly intertwined from the moment their roots crossed underground.

        • Posted May 19, 2019 at 11:18 am | Permalink

          That’s a good recap of how we got where we are today. It still amazes me that such a large group of people find the fake news and conspiracy theories offered by right-wing media so attractive. Do they all really believe it or is it like reality TV and just entertainment? Perhaps the election of Trump answered that question, assuming it ever was worth asking.

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted May 19, 2019 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

            I’d love to find out whether people really believe the conspirational or supernatural stuff they say, but I don’t know how you’d really start because belief is such a strange, diffuse thing. Religious people say they believe in heaven like they believe in Paris or McDonalds or a house made of bricks. But at the same time they’re just as terrified as the rest of us when death comes around. They say they believe in the power of prayer, but if you give them large financial stakes and ask them to gamble on the results of a double blind, randomised trial on the efficacy of prayer and they’d bet against their own claimed beliefs.

            It’s a minefield. I don’t think we’re anywhere near knowing what people believe, because people themselves often don’t know themselves.
            Those aforementioned theists gambling on the results of the prayer trials would say they believe totally in prayer. If you ask them why there’s a contradiction in their behaviour they’d rationalise it somehow.
            They literally don’t know that they don’t believe in prayer. The way we usually talk about belief that sentence just doesn’t make sense.

            It’s strange. One part of them is lying to another part of them. Everyone does this to varying degrees, especially Trump supporters and people like that, where the contradictions in their beliefs are so numerous and enormous. Different parts of the brain are all working to put out little fires of cognitive dissonance that spring up all the time, to rationalise them away.
            It sounds like madness, but really it’s what keeps us from going mad in the first place. Living with the true reality of existence is too much bandwidth for human beings to deal with – there has to be at least some self-deception all the time.

            • Posted May 19, 2019 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

              Strap them down and connect them to the instruments!

              • merilee
                Posted May 19, 2019 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

                Oh not the comfy chair🙀

              • Saul Sorrell-Till
                Posted May 19, 2019 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

                I reckon that’s your solution for everything.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted May 19, 2019 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

          Yes, Fox News and talk radio midwifed the birth of today’s GOP.

      • rickflick
        Posted May 19, 2019 at 11:32 am | Permalink

        In other words, we can blame DT on the roll of cotton and tobacco in the European economy, and the importation of slaves into the South resulting in the Civil War. If we could only roll back that little bit of history.

      • Posted May 19, 2019 at 11:34 am | Permalink

        Actually, it was the 1964 election between LBJ and Goldwater that turned the South Republican. It was because of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which LBJ had championed and Goldwater had opposed. Johnson admitted that he had turned the South Republican for generations.

        • Nicolaas Stempels
          Posted May 19, 2019 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

          Mr Goldwater warned us about evangelicals though.

          • Posted May 19, 2019 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

            Goldwater was a pretty decent guy actually, particularly in the latter part of his life, but he pandered to the racists in 1964 under the guise of “states’ rights.”

            • Posted May 19, 2019 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

              I thought that the “states’ rights” excuse for such things had been worn out a century earlier.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted May 19, 2019 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

          Yes, it was in 1864 that the South first went Republican. But it was Nixon’s strategy to pander to that vote after he saw that George Wallace carried the states of the Deep South in 1968.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted May 19, 2019 at 6:21 pm | Permalink


  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 19, 2019 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    … one of the many women bedded by JFK as President …

    My favorite story there is about the two White House interns — code-named “Fiddle” and “Faddle” by the Secret Service — that JFK would take skinny-dipping in the White House swimming pool when Jackie was out of town. Nora Ephron was a White House intern during the Kennedy administration, and she said JFK never hit on her. Of course, Nora also wrote a famous piece for Esquite entitled “A Few Words About Breasts”, in which she bemoaned her own lack of any.

    The prudish, uptight Richard Nixon had JFK’s swimming pool paved over as soon as he took occupancy of the White House. It now sits below the press briefing room in the West Colonnade, a room that Donald Trump (who has appeared there but twice, and whose press secretary hasn’t held a briefing in nearly 70 days) has less use for than Richard Nixon had for swimming pools.

    • Mark R.
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      Very similar to Reagan taking off the White House solar panels that Carter had installed. And Trump trying to dismantle anything Obama did, seemingly because Obama did it. Why such pettiness in Republican Presidents?

      • rickflick
        Posted May 19, 2019 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

        This foolish practice goes back a long way. In ancient Egypt, king Akhenaten tried to shift his culture from Egypt’s traditional religion, but the shifts were not widely accepted. After his death, his monuments were dismantled and hidden, his statues were destroyed, and his name excluded from the king lists.

  7. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted May 19, 2019 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    On this day in 1780, a weird event occurred in the U.S.: New England’s Dark Dark Day, in which the skies got very dark over New England and parts of Canada. It was probably due to smoke from forests fires.

    Interesting. The combination of soot and fogs is reminiscent of the infamous smogs of London in the 1950s.
    It sounds a little odd that there’s only one report of a phenomenon that you’d expect to recur at least occasionally. But apparrantly dendrochronology backs up the event.
    There was a lot of deforestation in New England at some point between the Invasion and, well, some time recently. Must have been a hell of a lot of deforestation!

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      There was more than one report of the effects of the May 1780 “Dark Day” – rivers coated in floating wood ash & the like.

      It seems to have been a series of semi-connected forest fires of great geographical extent, but of fairly low intensity, that originated a few hundred kilometres West of the coastal colonies. An atmospheric inland ‘low’ drove the smoke & ash eastwards over a period of days & it smacked into the line of north-south coastal colonies all on the same day.

      Researchers from UofM looked at tree rings & fire scars & found evidence for fire at the Algonquin Highlands of southern Ontario, western Maryland, western Virginia, the Missouri Ozark highlands, the Boston Mountains of Arkansas & the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of northern Minnesota.

  8. Posted May 19, 2019 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    A live table is one from which the data is actively being changed by the public (or whoever the clients are). Usually, it would be very poor form to access such a table in a way that would allow you to delete it. I suspect it is completely prohibited in any sane environment. One little mistake, like deleting the entire table rather than the intended row, and you are having a very bad day.

    Still, the most that will happen is you will lose the data in that table that has been added since the last backup. That may or may not be the end of the world. If you discover that your backup is missing or damaged, then that is the end of the world.

    You might lose your job if any of these things happen.

    • David Harper
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      I’m a database administrator in my day job, so I have to deal with this kind of scenario once in a while.

      Trust me, you don’t just make backups. You test them too, to make sure they really can be used in emergencies to recover lost data.

      Also, you don’t only make snapshot backups every 24 hours. You also make copies of the “redo log” files which record all the changes that happen to the database between the snapshots. With those, you can recover the database to just *before* the disaster happened, and earn the undying gratitude of the careless user whose job you just saved 🙂

      • Posted May 19, 2019 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        Yes, of course. I didn’t want to get into all those details. What you describe sounds like a properly run environment but, as I am sure you know, they aren’t all run that way. Not by a long shot.

        So what’s a good example where a DB Admin might modify a live table? Just curious.

        • David Harper
          Posted May 19, 2019 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

          “So what’s a good example where a DB Admin might modify a live table? Just curious.”

          I prefer to leave that to the owner of the database. When I’m wearing my DBA hat, I have unimaginable power over the database. I can do an *awful* lot of damage with just a single command. I prefer not to exercise that power, just in case 🙂

          But if the owner of the database really wants to make a major change, I tell them to test the change thoroughly on a copy of the production database, and to have a plan to reverse the change. I also arrange to make a one-off extra backup of the production database immediately before the change is rolled out.

          I’ve got most of my users properly trained. It’s rare that I have to don my superhero cape and rescue them from their own folly 🙂

  9. Posted May 19, 2019 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Perhaps merganser moms share babysitting tasks like peahens do. Experts?

    • Bruce E Lyon
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      I think in waterfowl the big broods are due to adoption and there is only one mother (sucker) that does all of the work. One idea is that having big broods benefits everybody but there is not clear evidence for that. In a study we did of adoption in goldeneyes, the foster mom would try and kill any ducklings that were different in size from her own (and perhaps easily detectable?).

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      This came up last year and the explanation is not ducknapping, rather, it’s “ducky day care”

      • Posted May 19, 2019 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        Right. I was talking about ducky day care as opposed to “adoption” which, I assume, are more permanent and may even be forced abduction. I’ve seen peahens first hand taking turns doing their daycare chores.

        • rickflick
          Posted May 19, 2019 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

          The transfer of offspring certainly would free up hens for laying another round of eggs, but how would they know who’s turn it was?

          • Posted May 19, 2019 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

            I was wondering this with the peahens but didn’t stick around long enough to formulate a theory. I did witness a changing of the guard but there was no saluting that I could see. One hen joined the group and a few minutes later the other hen wandered off. It would be interesting to know if some hens don’t do their part and, if so, are they punished in any way?

  10. Jenny Haniver
    Posted May 19, 2019 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    For Nora Ephron’s birthday, here’s her recipe for salad dressing from her book “Heartburn.”

    Mix 2 tablespoons Grey Poupon mustard with 2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar. Then, whisking constantly with a fork, slowly add 6 tablespoons olive oil, until the vinaigrette is thick and creamy; this makes a very strong vinaigrette that’s perfect for salad greens like arugula and watercress and endive.”

    What made this dressing special was the order of adding and combining the ingredients,particularly the way one adds the olive oil so that it emulsifies properly. It works perfectly and is marvelous.

    Perhaps a reader who knows about emulsification can explain. Just throwing the ingredients together and stirring or shaking doesn’t work at all.

    • Posted May 19, 2019 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      I don’t know about the particular proportions of this recipe but I find it a good combination, though I am thinking that it doesn’t need the extra vinegar as Grey Poupon has enough already. Still, it is making me hungry but lunch is still an hour or two away.

    • Gabrielle
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      From my colloid/surface chemistry days – Adding the oil to the vinegar/mustard mix, with vigorous stirring, forms an oil-in-water emulsion, with droplets of oil dispersed in the water-based vinegar/mustard. It is the vigorous stirring that supplies the mechanical energy to break up the oil into the droplets, and then likely something in the mustard that stabilizes the droplets, so they don’t break-up (technically called lowering the surface tension of the mixture). It is also helpful that the mustard increases the viscosity (thickness) of the vinegar/mustard mix, which also aids in stabilizing the oil droplets.

      If the mustard were absent, and one tried stirring 6 tablespoons of oil into 4 tablespoons of vinegar, only large oil droplets would form, and would almost immediately separate and rise to the top, forming an oil phase on top of the water-based vinegar. This is what happens in regular Italian dressing.

      I could go on, but I’ll stop here.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted May 20, 2019 at 2:43 am | Permalink

        Thank you.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted May 19, 2019 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      Add an egg yolk and you are making mayonnaise.

    • darrelle
      Posted May 20, 2019 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      Mustard is an excellent emulsifier. Including mustard in a vinaigrette makes it very easy to get and maintain a proper dressing. You can just add all of the ingredients together into a container, in any order, put a lid on and shake it.

      I love 3-4 Tbsp walnut oil, 1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, salt & pepper to taste. Goes great with all kinds of stuff. Very nice with Romaine, mixed greens, shaved onion, shaved apple, tomato and a nice blue or Gorgonzola cheese.

      An emulsion is a mixture of two different liquids that don’t like to stay mixed, for example oil and water. Water and vinegar are polar molecules and fats are non-polar. The two don’t like to stick together. Non-polar molecules actually repel water. To get a proper vinaigrette you have to mix them so that they are broken into tiny droplets. But even when you do that they won’t stay mixed together for very long. The tiny oil droplets will start to coalesce and soon you have a “broken” mess of oil and vinegar. To prevent that you add an emulsifier. Emulsifiers contain molecules that readily bond with both polar and non-polar molecules.

      When you mix the vinaigrette and break the fat and vinegar into tiny droplets the emulsifier molecules prevent the fat droplets from getting back together by bonding with them, which in turn prevents them from bonding with each other. The emulsifier molecules also mix well with water. Mustard is a great emulsifier. Or, rather, mucilage is and mustard seeds contain mucilage.

  11. merilee
    Posted May 19, 2019 at 11:46 am | Permalink


  12. jpetts
    Posted May 19, 2019 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Swimming Post-It notes!

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