Good morning on Saturday, December 14, 2019, on a balmy morning in Chicago (36º F, 2° C). It’s National Biscuits and Gravy Day, and I feel sorry for those of you who haven’t had a chance to sample this wonderful Southern breakfast dish. It’s also National Bouillaisse Day (a no-no: cultural appropriation), Roast Chestnuts Day, Gingerbread Decorating Day, and Monkey Day, an international holiday that celebrates all simians, including apes.
NEWS OF THE DAY: As everyone expected, the House Judiciary Committee, voting strictly along party lines, recommended to the full House an impeachment of Donald Trump on two counts: abuse of power and and obstruction of Congress. This recommendation will also pass the full House, also along party lines, as the House has a majority of Democrats. And, also as expected, the Senate will refuse to remove Trump from office. What this does to his prospects for reelection is above my pay grade.
Matthew sent me a tweet from his friend Robin Ince, with a poem expressing his reaction to yesterday’s Conservative victory:
On the way to tonight's show, I thought I better address the mixed emotions many are feeling. Here is a sort of poem on those multiple feelings pic.twitter.com/O8AzTytwsT
— Robin Ince (@robinince) December 13, 2019
Stuff that happened on December 14 includes:
- 1287 – St. Lucia’s flood: The Zuiderzee sea wall in the Netherlands collapses, killing over 50,000 people.
- 1542 – Princess Mary Stuart becomes Queen of Scots at the age of one week on the death of her father, James V of Scotland.
- 1782 – The Montgolfier brothers first test fly an unmanned hot air balloon in France; it floats nearly 2 km (1.2 mi).
- 1900 – Quantum mechanics: Max Planck presents a theoretical derivation of his black-body radiation law.
This is his formula E = hγ, where E is the energy emitted, h is Planck’s constant, and γ is the frequency of the radiation. In other words, the energy emitted by a body could only occur in discrete units. And that was the birth of quantum mechanics.
- 1903 – The Wright brothers make their first attempt to fly with the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
This wasn’t too successful, but three days later the real First Airplane Flight occurred. And there’s a picture of that first flight on December 17, 1903: Orville’s at the control while Wilbur runs alongside:
- 1911 – Roald Amundsen’s team, comprising himself, Olav Bjaaland, Helmer Hanssen, Sverre Hassel, and Oscar Wisting, becomes the first to reach the South Pole.
Of course I had to note that. Here are four of the five men (one took the picture) at the Pole with a tent and the Norwegian flag. There were also 16 d*gs in the party; I’m not sure whether any cats have ever reached the South Pole, but why would they want to?
- 1918 – The 1918 United Kingdom general election occurs, the first where women were permitted to vote.
- 1940 – Plutonium (specifically Pu-238) is first isolated at Berkeley, California.
- 1964 – American Civil Rights Movement: Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States: The Supreme Court of the United States rules that Congress can use the Constitution’s Commerce Clause to fight discrimination.
- 1972 – Apollo program: Eugene Cernan is the last person to walk on the moon, after he and Harrison Schmitt complete the third and final extravehicular activity (EVA) of the Apollo 17 mission.
- 2012 – Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting: Twenty-eight people, including the gunman, are killed in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1896 – Jimmy Doolittle, American general and pilot, Medal of Honor recipient (d. 1993)
- 1911 – Spike Jones, American singer and bandleader (d. 1965)
- 1916 – Shirley Jackson, American novelist and short story writer (d. 1965)
- 1922 – Don Hewitt, American journalist and producer, created 60 Minutes (d. 2009)
- 1946 – Jane Birkin, English-French actress and singer
- 1960 – James Comey, 7th Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Those who began pushing up daisies on December 14 include:
- 1799 – George Washington, American general and politician, 1st President of the United States (b. 1732)
- 1873 – Louis Agassiz, Swiss-American zoologist and geologist (b. 1807)
- 1920 – George Gipp, American football player (b. 1895)
- 1944 – Lupe Vélez, Mexican actress (b. 1908)
- 1953 – Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, American author and academic (b. 1896)
- 1989 – Andrei Sakharov, Russian physicist and activist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1921)
- 1994 – Orval Faubus, American soldier and politician, 36th Governor of Arkansas (b. 1910)
- 2001 – W. G. Sebald, German novelist, essayist, and poet (b. 1944)
- 2013 – Peter O’Toole, British-Irish actor (b. 1932)
- 2014 – Bess Myerson, American model, activist, game show panelist and television personality; Miss America 1945 (b. 1924). [JAC: She was the first Jewish Miss America, a big deal at the time. Now nobody cares who wins that title.]
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is puzzled by the cutting of an onion for the staff’s dinner:
Hili: I can’t stop being surprised.Małgorzata: By what?Hili: What strange things humans have to eat.
Hili: Nie mogę przestać się dziwić.
Hili: Jakie dziwne rzeczy ludzie muszą jeść.
And in rainy Wloclawek, little Mietek is tired:
Mietek: It’s rainy and sleepy today.
A tee shirt from Jesus of the Day (better in black):
Reader Kurt sent two snow-sculpture photos, one in a tweet and one I made into a tweet. If you’re a fan of the productions of Studio Ghibli, as I am, you’ll recognize these characters. There’s even the Cat Bus!
And. . . . here’s Charlie!
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) December 13, 2019
Tweets from Matthew. First, the quotidian egress of the fowl from the Marsh Farm Barn:
— caenhillcc (@caenhillcc) December 14, 2019
A hairless cat’s first encounter with snow—with the expected result.
Hairless cat's first snow day 🙀❄️
— The Dodo (@dodo) December 13, 2019
Sexual selection in action, with the male showing off both his resplendent tail and his vigor:
Pin-tailed Whydah (Vidua macroura) 🐦🦜🎵❤️🎵🦜🐦 pic.twitter.com/EJe3qWPGa1
— World birds (@worldbirds32) December 13, 2019
Heather Hastie found a tweet showing a possessive moggie:
— Ann 🇬🇧🐱🌹🌹🌹🐱 (@Annrile123456) October 6, 2019
You simply must read the thread following this tweet as it explains everything. Such a heartwarmer, and so bittersweet.
It is election season. The world is busy and rubbish.
But it is also Christmas.
So take a breather and let me tell you a story about London, trains, love and loss, and how small acts of kindness matter.
I'm going to tell you about the voice at Embankment Tube station.
— John Bull (@garius) December 11, 2019
Want another heartwarmer? Have a look at this tweet sent by reader Barry (sound up). You will tear up for sure.
This little monkey was injured & nursed back to health by a Veterinary Centre in South Africa.
When he was rescued, his family followed him to the centre & waited on the roof for weeks.
Checkout their reactions…❤️😭
— FierceWarriorNStilettos (@InactionNever) November 28, 2019