It’s Tuesday, May 21, and I leave for Boston tomorrow. But don’t worry: duck tending is all arranged. You’ll be pleased to know that all ten ducklings are still alive and thriving.
It’s National Strawberries and Cream Day, an estimable dish, and World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.
It’s not a banner day in history. On May 21, 1881, the American Red Cross was established in Washington, D.C. by Clara Barton. In 1904, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was founded in Paris.
And in 1924, just a few blocks from where I sit, University of Chicago students Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, Jr. kidnapped and murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks (a resident of Kenwood, immediately north of Hyde Park), just to see if they could do it. (Franks’s body was dumped in Hammond, Indiana.) Unfortunately, they slipped up: Leopold left his glasses at the scene of the crime, and they had an unusual hinge bought by only three customers in Chicago. Loeb confessed, and they were tried for and convicted or murder. In a 12-hour-long impassioned plea, with overtones of determinism, their lawyer, Clarence Darrow, pleaded for them to escape execution. He prevailed with the judge, and the pair were sent to jail. Loeb was murdered in prison in 1936. Leopold was released in 1958, moved to Puerto Rico, and died in 1971. This is still a fairly big deal in Chicago and around the University.
Here is Bobby Franks:
and Nathan Leopold, Jr.:
Their jail mug shots:
On this day in 1927, Charles Lindbergh, completing the world’s first transatlantic solo and nonstop flight, touched down at Le Bourget Field in Paris. He instantly became an international hero, though later he became a white supremacist and a Nazi sympathizer. Exactly five years later, Amelia Earhart touched down in a pasture in Derry, Northern Ireland, completing the first nonstop flight by a woman across the Atlantic.
If you’ve seen the movie “In the Realm of the Senses” (1976), one of the first art-house semi-pornographic films, you’ll know about the geisha/prostitute Sada Abe, who killed her lover in an erotic asyphyxiation episode and cut off his penis. On this day in 1936, she was arrested after having wandered the streets of Tokyo for days with the severed penis in her purse. This scandalized Japan, but she spent only five years in prison. Here she is:
On this day in 1946, in a sad episode, physicist Louis Slotin was fatally irradiated at Los Alamos National Laboratory when a plutonium core he was manipulating slipped, rising above critical mass and emitting deadly radiation everywhere. He died an agonizing death on May 30. On May 21, 1972, a deranged Hungarian geologist, Laszlo Toth, vandalized Michelangelo’s Pietà in St. Peters Basilica in Rome. With his geologist’s hammer, he knocked off Mary’s arm,and damaged her nose and eyelid. Here he is apprehended after the attack:
On May 21, 1991, former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a female suicide bomber near Chennai (25 others were also killed). Finally (and I didn’t know this), Wikipedia reports that on this date in 2011, “Radio broadcaster Harold Camping predicted that the world would end on this date.”
Notables born on this day include Mary Anning (1799), Louis Renault (1843, Nobel Laureate), Henri Rousseau (1844), Fats Waller (1904), Andrei Sakharov (1921, Nobel Laureate), Günter Blobel (1936, Nobel Laureate), Al Franken (1951), Jeffrey Dahmer (1960), and The Notorious B.I.G. (1972). Here is “The Tiger Cat” by Rousseau, which looks for all the world like a B. Kliban cat! I wonder if Kliban got inspiration from the first painting below (specimen by Kliban for comparison):
Those who croaked on May 21 include Hernando de Soto (1542), Jane Addams (1935), James Franck (1954, Nobel Laureate), Kenneth Clark (1983), and John Gielgud (2000).
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s dialogue is interpreted by Malgorzata: “She wants to be a famous author of a solid theory. The subject doesn’t matter; the fame does.”
Hili: We should develop a solid theory.A: What about?Hili: Does it matter?
Hili: Powinniśmy zbudować solidną teorię.
Ja: O czym?
Hili: A czy to ważne?
A tweet called to my attention by reader Su. If I’m not mistaken, the caracal can jump higher in relation to its size than any other species of cat: sometimes ten feet off the ground.
A goose-stepping parade from reader Barry. I hope they’re not being led to the slaughter! Sound up, please.
And now for something completely different… pic.twitter.com/CLDKfyR6wo
— Lawd Cheesy Crust (@LawdCheesyCrust) May 19, 2019
Nilou calls our attention to the fact that face-slapping contests are really a sport in Russia. My money is on the big guy in this one (who may be the champion shown in this video).
Tweets from Matthew, who says he’s seen a mole once, and so have I:
AS PROMISED: here is a video of the velvety mole eating half of a worm it had ejected from the soil with its pile-driver snoot and JCB digger paws: pic.twitter.com/8dlJeqYFVc
— Melissa Harrison (@M_Z_Harrison) May 20, 2019
Extra credit if you know where the title of the tweet comes from:
I was just on the outskirts of Barstow when the drug legalization kicked in pic.twitter.com/ggaX8VnumS
— Mary Branscombe (@marypcbuk) May 20, 2019
The best library return ever:
It is high time that this terrific library sign goes the rounds once more… pic.twitter.com/yL4YR8GnLq
— Dick King-Smith HQ (@DickKingSmith) May 20, 2019
Butterfly sex: maybe this behavior is a kink?
— Dom Greves (@domgreves) May 20, 2019
Matthew labeled this “NSFL”: not safe for lunch:
— Laura Keeney 🔮🖖🏀 (@LauraKeeney) May 19, 2019
Tweets from Grania. She says this about the one below: “What happens to naughty Goats (if you read the responses, this appears to be a common solution)”. It’s the caprid equivalent of a dunce cap.
Artist Jonty Hurwitz creates captibvating anamorphic sculptures that can only be seen in their own reflections or along a precise line of sight. He scans a three-dimensional object, then uses computational software to come up with new physical forms https://t.co/DxPgna30Sf pic.twitter.com/rjim2eRwVz
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) May 16, 2019
I wonder if any woman who wore these was injured or killed:
A deadly parade of Paris Green dresses, thick with arsenic.“Well may the fascinating wearer of it be called a killing creature. She actually carries in her skirts poison enough to slay the whole of the admirers she may meet with in half a dozen ball-rooms,” wrote the BMJ in 1862. pic.twitter.com/gVTzoBCPNi
— Anne Louise Avery (@AnneLouiseAvery) May 10, 2019