It’s Saturday, August 17, 2019, National Vanilla Custard Day. This is the harbinger of a bland and unappealing day. On the bright side, it’s International Homeless Animals’ Day (adopt one now, please) and World Honeybee Day.
It’s also National Black Cat Appreciation Day, and to help you appreciate it are the black cats of two readers, with Alcestic Jerry (recumbent) and Octavia Sadie (sitting up). Their staff is Gethyn and Laurie, and the sisters were rescued as kittens from a market and adopted out by Feline Friends London, our Official Website Charity®. In fact, they were adopted exactly six months ago today. At first they were wild and fearful, but now they’re part of the family, even rolling upside down for tummy rubs.
Stuff that happened on August 17 includes:
- 1498 – Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI, becomes the first person in history to resign the cardinalate; later that same day, King Louis XII of France names him Duke of Valentinois.
- 1585 – A first group of colonists sent by Sir Walter Raleigh under the charge of Ralph Lane lands in the New World to create Roanoke Colony on Roanoke Island, off the coast of present-day North Carolina.
- 1798 – The Vietnamese Catholics report a Marian apparition in Quảng Trị, an event which is called Our Lady of La Vang.
A Marian apparition is, of course, a vision of the Virgin Mary, like Bernadette’s vision at Lourdes or the one in Fatima, Portugal. But why is it always Mary and never Jesus?
- 1862 – American Civil War: Major General J. E. B. Stuart is assigned command of all the cavalry of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.
- 1896 – Bridget Driscoll became the first recorded case of a pedestrian killed in a collision with a motor car in the United Kingdom.
The car that struck Driscoll, doing a demonstration on the grounds of the Crystal Palace in London, was going only 4 miles per hour. Nevertheless, she died. Here she is (circled):
And, for your delectation, here’s the short Fantasmagorie, in which a character in pantaloons has many adventures.
- 1915 – Jewish American Leo Frank is lynched in Marietta, Georgia after a 13-year-old girl is murdered.
Lynching of white men in the South (Frank owned a pencil factory in Atlanta) was a rarity, and Frank appears to be the only Jew in American history ever lynched. If you want to see a photo of his hanging body, there’s one at the link. Most later analyses exculpated Frank and concluded that the likely murderer was the factory’s janitor, but of course Frank was Jewish. Here’s his photo:
Other stuff that happened on this day:
- 1943 – World War II: The Royal Air Force begins Operation Hydra, the first air raid of the Operation Crossbow strategic bombing campaign against Germany’s V-weapon program.
- 1945 – Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta proclaim the independence of Indonesia, igniting the Indonesian National Revolution against the Dutch Empire.
- 1945 – The novella Animal Farm by George Orwell is first published.
- 1998 – Lewinsky scandal: US President Bill Clinton admits in taped testimony that he had an “improper physical relationship” with White House intern Monica Lewinsky; later that same day he admits before the nation that he “misled people” about the relationship.
Of course, a few months earlier he had denied it, as shown in this video:
- 2005 – The first forced evacuation of settlers, as part of Israeli disengagement from Gaza, starts.
- 2008 – American swimmer Michael Phelps becomes the first person to win eight gold medals at one Olympic Games.
- 2017 – Barcelona attacks: A van is driven into pedestrians in La Rambla, killing 14 and injuring at least 100.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1887 – Marcus Garvey, Jamaican journalist and activist, founded Black Star Line (d. 1940)
The Line, intended to transport African-Americans, was plagued by mismanagement and bad ships. Garvey wound up being convicted for mail fraud and, deported to Jamaica, died in 1940.
- 1893 – Mae West, American actress, playwright, and screenwriter (d. 1980)
- 1913 – Mark Felt, American lawyer and agent, 2nd Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (d. 2008)
Felt, of course, turned out to be “Deep Throat” in the Watergate affair, helping bring down Richard Nixon. I see him as a hero.
- 1929 – Francis Gary Powers, American captain and pilot (d. 1977)
- 1932 – V. S. Naipaul, Trinidadian-English novelist and essayist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2018)
- 1943 – Robert De Niro, American actor, entrepreneur, director, and producer
- 1960 – Sean Penn, American actor, director, and political activist
Notables who expired on August 17 were few; they include:
- 1786 – Frederick the Great, Prussian king (b. 1712)
- 1850 – José de San Martín, Argentinian general and politician, 1st President of Peru (b. 1778)
- 1973 – Conrad Aiken, American novelist, short story writer, critic, and poet (b. 1889)
- 1987 – Rudolf Hess, German soldier and politician (b. 1894)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has more science questions:
Hili: How do spiders select a place for a spiderweb?A: You will have to talk to a spider about it.
Hili: Jak pająki wybierają miejsce na pajęczynę?
Ja: O tym musisz porozmawiać z pająkiem.
Reader Keira McKenzie sent a great cat meme:
Su sent this wonderful artwork from You Need More ART in Your Life: “A mother wrench feeding her young.”
Also from Su:
Here’s a tweet Grania sent me on January 3 of this year, saying “Here: you will enjoy this.” It’s from the fake DPRK News site. And yes, I did enjoy it:
Story of homeless woman receiving first paycheck captivates millions across United States. pic.twitter.com/tqSjl5Xs1z
— DPRK News Service (@DPRK_News) January 3, 2019
Reader Thomas sent this tweet with a poignant conversation between Anderson Cooper and Steven Colbert. You may know that Colbert lost his dad and two brothers in a plane crash when he as ten: that’s the incident to which he refers. Although he’s a Catholic (which mystifies me in a man so smart and thoughtful), at the beginning he sounds like a Buddhist.
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) August 16, 2019
Nilou once again demonstrates how wicked and sly birds can be:
— 🦦Marie-Caroline🦥 🏴☠️ (@NoWay7790) August 13, 2019
Two cat tweets from Heather Hastie, who got them from Ann German. I believe that’s John Lennon in the photo:
'"Cats don't have names,' it said.
'No?' said Coraline.
'No,' said the cat. 'Now you people have names. That's because you don't know who you are. We know who we are, so we don't need names.”'
– Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself)#InternationalCatDay pic.twitter.com/7m29rmpE2o
— Royal Society of Literature (@RSLiterature) August 8, 2019
I love this ad:
Today's Vintage Ad With Bizarrely Out-Of-Place Cats is going for a spin! pic.twitter.com/So56sCfsZq
— Undine (@HorribleSanity) August 8, 2019
And two tweets from Matthew Cobb, who has the weight of the world (Brexit, Trump, global warming, etc.) on his shoulders. This tweet has apparently added to it.
But here’s something that cheered him up:
Kitten having a bit of trouble being cat-shaped today. pic.twitter.com/dUitXvD8Xa
— Simon Spanton (@SimonGuy64) August 15, 2019