It’s hump day: August 28, 2019, and National Cherry Turnover Day (I prefer strawberry). It’s also Red Wine Day (I’ll be having a Patricia Green pinot noir tonight), as well as International Read Comics in Public Day (I’d prefer International Read James Joyce in Public Day), and National Bow Tie Day (I must admit that I can’t abide those ties).
Today’s big news is that Boris Johnson has shut down Parliament in a weaselly move to get the Brexit initiative (which he favors) through. This development hasn’t yet made the headlines in the U.S., so I asked Matthew Cobb to give us a brief summary of what’s going on in London. His report:
The Johnson government has announced it will suspend parliament until the middle of October, thereby removing its actions from parliamentary scrutiny. This is widely described as a coup or a constitutional outrage. The aim is to enable the government to drive through its policy of No Deal Brexit (opposed by the majority of MPs in a series of votes).This is a major constitutional crisis, and if the government does not back down the consequences could be dramatic and hard to predict, but at the very least would lead to the break-up of the UK as Scotland would undoubtedly secede, through a vote or who knows what. Here is a statement from the Speaker so you can see I am not exaggerating
There is a live feed of political developments at The Guardian.
Stuff that happened on August 28 includes:
- 632 – Fatimah, daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad dies, with her cause of death being a controversial topic among the Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims.
The sects differ about her death, but of course also about the rightful heirs of Muhammad. Fatimah’s husband, and Muhammad’s son in law, was Ali ibn Abi Talib, regarded as the heir of Muhammad by Shia Muslims. In contrast, Sunni Muslims regard Muhammad’s father in law, Abu Bakr, as the Caliph that would succeed him. On such differences the world spills oceans of blood.
- 1789 – William Herschel discovers a new moon of Saturn: Enceladus.
As the Cassini Project showed, Enceladus is unusual among moons because it has “geysers”, described by Wikipedia this way:
. . . . plumes venting from the south polar region. Cryovolcanoes near the south pole shoot geyser-like jets of water vapor, molecular hydrogen, other volatiles, and solid material, including sodium chloride crystals and ice particles, into space, totaling about 200 kg (440 lb) per second. Over 100 geysers have been identified. Some of the water vapor falls back as “snow”; the rest escapes, and supplies most of the material making up Saturn’s E ring. According to NASA scientists, the plumes are similar in composition to comets. In 2014, NASA reported that Cassini found evidence for a large south polar subsurface ocean of liquid water with a thickness of around 10 km (6 mi).
Here are two photos of the plumes:
- 1845 – The first issue of Scientific American magazine is published.
- 1898 – Caleb Bradham’s beverage “Brad’s Drink” is renamed “Pepsi-Cola”.
- 1955 – Black teenager Emmett Till is brutally murdered in Mississippi, galvanizing the nascent civil rights movement.
Till’s mother, of course, insisted on an open-casket funeral in Chicago, and the local black paper, the Chicago Defender, published a photo of his brutally beaten body. This helped galvanize support for the nascent civil rights movement (you can see the photo here, but be warned that the photo is gruesome). Here’s Emmett’s mother at the funeral, looking at the carnage (you can read more about the funeral here). His eye was missing, his teeth were gone, and his ear was severed. All that identified him was his ring.
Speaking of segregationists,
- 1957 – U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond begins a filibuster to prevent the Senate from voting on Civil Rights Act of 1957; he stopped speaking 24 hours and 18 minutes later, the longest filibuster ever conducted by a single Senator.
- 1968 – The police rioted during the Democratic National Convention, beating up anti-war protesters, peaceful demonstrators, innocent bystanders, and members of the press.
- 1990 – Iraq declares Kuwait to be its newest province.
- 2003 – In “one of the most complicated and bizarre crimes in the annals of the FBI”, Brian Wells dies after becoming involved in a complex plot involving a bank robbery, a scavenger hunt, and a homemade explosive device.
Read the story at the link; it truly is one of the most bizarre crimes ever committed. Wells died when an explosive collar put around his neck by his fellow robbers was detonated.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1749 – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German novelist, poet, playwright, and diplomat (d. 1832)
- 1833 – Edward Burne-Jones, English artist of the Pre-Raphaelite movement (d. 1898)
- 1903 – Bruno Bettelheim, Austrian-American psychologist and author (d. 1990)
- 1908 – Roger Tory Peterson, American ornithologist and author (d. 1996)
- 1925 – Donald O’Connor, American actor, singer, and dancer (d. 2003)
- 1954 – George M. Church, American geneticist, chemist, and engineer
- 1965 – Shania Twain, Canadian singer-songwriter
- 1969 – Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and Founder of Leanin.org
- 1982 – LeAnn Rimes, American singer-songwriter and actress
Burne-Jones was perhaps the most famous of the pre-Raphaelite artists; here’s one of his paintings, “Love Among the Ruins”:
- 632 – Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad (b. 605)
- 1784 – Junípero Serra, Spanish priest and missionary (b. 1713)
- 1903 – Frederick Law Olmsted, American journalist and architect, co-designed Central Park (b. 1822)
- 1955 – Emmett Till, American murder victim (b. 1941)
- 1987 – John Huston, Irish actor, director, and screenwriter (b. 1906)
- 2012 – Shulamith Firestone, Canadian-American activist and author (b. 1945)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is confused. Malgorzata explains: “There is an old mattress on the floor upstairs with a strange pattern. Hili doesn’t understand this pattern.”
Hili: There are things which are difficult to explain.A: Yes, sometimes we have too little data and sometimes we have a wrong method to analyze the data.
Hili: Są rzeczy trudne do wyjaśnienia.
Ja: Tak, czasami mamy zbyt mało danych, a czasami złą metodę analizy dostępnych danych.
A cat meme from Stephen Muth:
Two from Mark Sturtevant. The first show obscene cruelty to ducks!
A tweet sent to me by Grania on January 22 of this year with her comment, “cool effect.”
Lenticular imagery, a very cool thing. pic.twitter.com/qgJTJdzf3I
— Daniel Holland (@DannyDutch) March 19, 2019
I found this and at first was going to say: “At last, a useful cat!”, but it turns out the cat isn’t doing any work at all.
And when I found this one, I thought, “But how’s he gonna land?” It turns out that that isn’t a problem.
Looks like fun… pic.twitter.com/TDv82SjT1v
— Steve Stewart-Williams (@SteveStuWill) August 25, 2019
From Orli. What do you make of this map?
National anthems that mention God.
(Because you didn't know you cared until now)
— Bryan Druzin (@BryanDruzin) August 27, 2019
From Nilou: The Tower of London’s Ravenmaster makes fun of the current “Rabbit or raven” conundrum:
— Ravenmaster (@ravenmaster1) August 25, 2019
From gravelinspector: Synchronized cat attention:
From Heather Hastie (via Ann German), a great idea:
you've seen those pictures of harvest mice falling asleep in tulips
today I learned that conservationists recycle Wimbledon tennis balls as predator-proof shelters for them pic.twitter.com/GsnQYBsX6H
— isi litke (@isilitke) August 21, 2019
From Matthew: this is about as viral as a video tweet gets, and I may have posted it before (but wait until you see the camels tomorrow!):
TIL: millipedes prance. pic.twitter.com/PBifC3CooP
— Dick King-Smith HQ (@DickKingSmith) August 22, 2019