It’s Wednesday, August 14, 2019, and National Creamsicle Day, a quiescently frozen confection that I loved in my youth. It’s also National Wiffleball Day and National Navajo Code Talkers Day. The latter celebrates a fascinating practice in World War II: the use of Navajo language as a means of communication that couldn’t be deciphered by the enemy. Do read the section about it in Wikipedia. (Navajo was one of several languages used as a form of code, including Comanchee, Cree, Mohawk, and even Basque.) Here’s a photo of Comanche soldiers who were code-talkers during WWII:
Stuff that happened on August 14 includes:
- 1040 – King Duncan I is killed in battle against his first cousin and rival Macbeth. The latter succeeds him as King of Scotland.
- 1457 – Publication of the Mainz Psalter, the first book to feature a printed date of publication and printed colophon.
What’s a colophon, you ask? The answer is here. The Mainz Psalter was the second book printed in movable type, and you know the first one.
- 1592 – The first sighting of the Falkland Islands by John Davis.
The first sighting of the Falkland Islands by Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus) will be in November of this year.
- 1816 – The United Kingdom formally annexes the Tristan da Cunha archipelago, administering the islands from the Cape Colony in South Africa.
- 1888 – An audio recording of English composer Arthur Sullivan’s “The Lost Chord”, one of the first recordings of music ever made, is played during a press conference introducing Thomas Edison’s phonograph in London, England.
Here’s that recording:
- 1935 – Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act, creating a government pension system for the retired.
- 1936 – Rainey Bethea is hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky in the last known public execution in the United States.
- 1945 – Japan accepts the Allied terms of surrender in World War II and the Emperor records the Imperial Rescript on Surrender (August 15 in Japan Standard Time).
- 1947 – Pakistan gains Independence from the British Empire and joins the Commonwealth of Nations.
- 1975 – The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the longest-running release in film history, opens in London.
I shamefully admit that I never saw this movie (and I never saw any of the Star Wars movies or hardly any adventure movie, even though I know TRHPS isn’t an adventure movie.
- 1980 – Lech Wałęsa leads strikes at the Gdańsk, Poland shipyards.
- 2015 – The US Embassy in Havana, Cuba re-opens after 54 years of being closed when Cuba–United States relations were broken off
Notables born on this day include:
- 1851 – Doc Holliday, American dentist and gambler (d. 1887) [JAC: they forgot “gunfighter”; after all, he was in the gunfight at the OK Corral.
- 1928 – Lina Wertmüller, Italian director and screenwriter
- 1941 – David Crosby, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
- 1950 – Gary Larson, American cartoonist
- 1959 – Magic Johnson, American basketball player and coach
- 1966 – Halle Berry, American model, actress, and producer, Miss World United States 1986
- 1987 – Tim Tebow, American football and baseball player, television personality and sportscaster
And how could I mark Gary Larson’s birthday without one of his cartoons? This is my favorite of all:
Those who went to the Great Beyond (or Great Below) on August 14 include:
- 1870 – David Farragut, American admiral (b. 1801)
- 1951 – William Randolph Hearst, American publisher and politician, founded the Hearst Corporation (b. 1863)
- 1958 – Frédéric Joliot-Curie, French physicist and chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1900)
- 1992 – John Sirica, American lawyer and judge (b. 1904)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili sees that the grass is cooler on the other side of the line:
Hili: Behind the line of shade is a different world.A: What kind of different?Hili: A cooler one.
Hili: Za linią cienia jest inny świat.
Reader Mark sent a working cat photo with an explanation:
While in Medellin, Colombia visiting family and friends, we updated our mobile SIM card at a corner tienda, supervised by a very inquisitive cat. Thought you might appreciate this.
From Stephen Barnard, who found it on Facebook. Mom doesn’t look too pleased. . . .
Grania sent me this tweet on February 4 of this year, showing one of many great Gary Larson cartoons (appropriate for today). Be sure to click on the tweet to see the caption.
The genius of Gary Larson pic.twitter.com/8cGRCEtoXN— The Ice Age ❄️🌞 (@Jamie_Woodward_) February 2, 2019
Two tweets from Nilou. This is a terrific invention, but it needs some improvement if it’s to be applied to fish like salmon, for the hand-insertion of fish into the tube is onerous.
This system helps native fish pass over dams in seconds rather than day pic.twitter.com/aAmhHArjPg— Dr. Kash Sirinanda (@kashthefuturist) August 8, 2019
This is amazing: the parsite turns the snail into a flashing neon sign saying: “Here I am! Eat me!” How a parasite does this I do not know, but it’s a marvel of adaptation and natural selection on a parasite to manipulate its host:
This zombie snail. A parasitic worm Leucochloridium has taken over its motor functions and eye stalks, making them into caterpillar mimics so birds will eat them. The worm can then reproduce in the bird's GI tract, eventually transmitting via its faeces 🤯 https://t.co/mP8IrGh21L pic.twitter.com/C2xc83oU54— Mike Inouye (@minouye271) August 12, 2019
From reader Barry: a very tidy elephant. Look how it uses its foot to help put litter in its trunk:
Two tweets from Heather Hastie. The first one shows a newborn red panda, which Heather deems “one of her top ten favorite animals.” (h/t: Ann German)
Heather’s note: “This is tweet is from a thread, and the thread is pages from a book by Marianne Williamson. She’s even wooier than I thought!” Read and weep: this woman is a Presidential candidate!
There are seven pages of letters to cancer and AIDS, and cancer and AIDS’ responses pic.twitter.com/zmnebes13K— Gillian Brockell (@gbrockell) June 24, 2019
Three tweets from Matthew, who’s taking a social-media break. But I have a backlog from him, and here’s a good one:
This lacewing is supposed to be a spider mimic (a form of Batesian mimicry), what with the “leg” markings and all. But I’m dubious:
Mimicry of a saliticid spider by a lacewing.— Ian McMillan (@icmcmi) August 12, 2019
Psychopsis mimica Newman, 1842.
Imbil, Queensland, November 2018. pic.twitter.com/vmAXTJd9xR
An untimely snowstorm in Oz has produced these “snow kangaroos,” which are, as they say, “trending”: