Good morning on a chilly Wednesday, December 18 (temperature in Chicago: 23° F or -5° C). It’s one week till Christmas and seven shopping days until the beginning of Coynezaa.
The big news, of course, is that it’s Impeachment Day in Congress, as the House of Representatives votes today on the impeachment of Donald Trump, and he will be impeached, becoming only the third U.S. President to suffer that fate. It was a day later, on December 19, 1998, that Bill Clinton became the second President to be impeached (do you know the first one?) As we noted yesterday, Trump responded “vigorously” with a 5+-page letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi comparing his impeachment to the Salem Witch Trials (in fact, he said the witches got more of a hearing than he did).
Today is one of those weird food days with quotes: National “I Love Honey” Day. Is that supposed to be a wink-wink declaration by someone who hates honey? But in my own case, of course, it’s literally true when referring to my beloved mallard hen. Will she return next Spring for the fourth year running?
It’s also International Migrants Day, National Ham Salad Day (not kosher), Bake Cookies Day, National Roast Suckling Pig Day (also not kosher), Snowflake Appreciation Day, and, oddly, National Wear a Plunger on Your Head Day, a holiday apparently celebrated by just two creatures:
. . . a day that ex-bounty hunter Vern Halsey and his beloved Komodo Dragon, Felix, continue to celebrate almost entirely by themselves:
Stuff that happened on December 18 includes:
- 1271 – Kublai Khan renames his empire “Yuan” (元 yuán), officially marking the start of the Yuan dynasty of Mongolia and China.
- 1777 – The United States celebrates its first Thanksgiving, marking the recent victory by the American rebels over British General John Burgoyne at Saratoga in October.
- 1865 – US Secretary of State William Seward proclaims the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment, prohibiting slavery throughout the USA.
- 1898 – Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat sets the first officially recognized land speed record of 39.245 mph (63.159 km/h) in a Jeantaud electric car.
- 1917 – The resolution containing the language of the Eighteenth Amendment to enact Prohibition is passed by the United States Congress.
- 1932 – The Chicago Bears defeat the Portsmouth Spartans in the first NFL playoff game to win the NFL Championship.
Here are some big-time Bears fans: Bill Swerski’s “Superfans” celebrating Thanksgiving. These are, of course, parodies of how Chicago sport fans are supposed to talk and act. This is from 1991’s Saturday Night Live; Chris Farley, the big dude on the left, died from drug use and atherosclerosis six years later (he was 33). And, as you see below, Farley died on this day: December 18. Remember Farley’s turn as motivational speaker Matt Foley, who lived in a van down by the river? (See a video here with David Spade, who can’t control his laughter, and Christina Applegate as the wayward kids.)
- 2015 – Kellingley Colliery, the last deep coal mine in Great Britain, closes.
- 2018 – List of bolides: A meteor exploded over the Bering Sea with a force over 10 times greater than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. On December 18, 2018 at 23:55 GMT
Notables born on this day include:
- 1800 – James Watney, English brewer and businessman (d. 1884)
- 1856 – J. J. Thomson, English physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1940)
- 1878 – Joseph Stalin, Georgian-Russian marshal and politician, 4th Premier of the Soviet Union (d. 1953)
- 1879 – Paul Klee, Swiss-German painter and educator (d. 1940)
- 1886 – Ty Cobb, American baseball player and manager (d. 1961)
- 1888 – Robert Moses, American urban planner (d. 1981)
The biography of Robert Moses by Robert Caro, The Power Broker, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction in 1974, is one of the finest biographies I’ve ever read.
- 1916 – Betty Grable, American actress, singer, and dancer (d. 1973)
- 1939 – Harold E. Varmus, American biologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate
- 1943 – Keith Richards, English singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer
- 1946 – Steve Biko, South African activist, founded the Black Consciousness Movement (d. 1977)
- 1946 – Steven Spielberg, American director, producer, and screenwriter, co-founded DreamWorks
- 1963 – Brad Pitt, American actor and producer
- 1978 – Katie Holmes, American actress
- 1980 – Christina Aguilera, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actress
Here’s Klee’s Cat and Bird from 1928:
Those who kicked off on December 18 include:
- 1829 – Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, French soldier, biologist, and academic (b. 1744)
- 1971 – Bobby Jones, American golfer and lawyer (b. 1902)
- 1975 – Theodosius Dobzhansky, Ukrainian geneticist and biologist (b. 1900)
- 1997 – Chris Farley, American comedian and actor (b. 1964)
- 2011 – Václav Havel, Czech poet, playwright, and politician, 1st President of the Czech Republic (b. 1936)
- 2014 – Mandy Rice-Davies, English model and actress (b. 1944)
- 2016 – Zsa Zsa Gabor, Hungarian-American actress and socialite (b. 1917)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is pining for Spring already, even though it’s only December.
Hili: Sometimes the light creates an illusion.A: And what you think you can see?Hili: Spring flowers.
Hili: Czasem gra świateł tworzy iluzję.
Ja: A co ci się wydaje, że widzisz?
Hili: Wiosenne kwiaty.
Reader Paul sent this cartoon that, he says, is “making the rounds.” You can figure out its meaning yourself:
A stolen kiss from Cat Lovers Community:
From Jesus of the Day: unromantic cats:
Two tweets from reader Barry. Of the first he says, “What are these bugs, and what’s with the choreographed movement?” I have no answer to either question, but Matthew did. I’ll let you guess.
. . . and a cat treating a mouse like a kitten!
You are so fucking fired! pic.twitter.com/o9MjyBf1sF
— jamie (@gnuman1979) November 4, 2019
Two cat tweets from Heather Hastie. This beautiful moggie responds well to a simple call:
Okay, what are these cats doing?
Matthew wants us to start the day right with the quotidian egress of fowl from the Marsh Farm Barn. As the nice man says, “A nice sunrise is the best medicine ever.” But why does Caspar always get a special greeting?
— caenhillcc (@caenhillcc) December 18, 2019
More tweets from Dr. Cobb: The Far Side cartoons are coming back in 2020 on a new website. Stay tuned! Here’s a preliminary sketch from Larson:
— Greg Priest (@greg_m_priest) December 17, 2019
I LOVE this cat cartoon from 1906. Enlarge it so you can read it. Scared by a turnip!
Doing 10 mins research on Xmas Tree supply chains c.1900 (prepare yourself) and found this moralistic little Christmas tale from the Shipley Times of 21 Dec 1906. Lesson: if your scare your parents, they will get their own back by scaring the living crap out of you. And: kittens. pic.twitter.com/pJVuMVf4KW
— Dr David Turner (@TurnipRail) December 17, 2019
Now this is really cool, and I hope the explanation is correct. But perhaps it’s just a pleiotropic effect of the male expressing genes that are adaptive in the female:
Male wasps cannot sting, but they still pretend they can. It can be a pretty effective scare tactic! Most people aren’t crazy enough to hold onto an animal that looks like it can sting. Male wasps, bees, and ants don’t have stingers because that tool evolved from an ovipositor. pic.twitter.com/PbmWDuWedO
— Megan “Wasp Lady” Asche (@MCAsche) December 16, 2019
And a surprise tweet (click on the photo):
open for a surprise pic.twitter.com/mNHFxOEPgz
— zoe ann (@zaonen) December 16, 2019