It’s the last Sunday of 2019: December 29, to be exact. It’s the penultimate day of Coynezaa and the Fifth Day of Christmas (Golden Rings). It’s “National Get on the Scales Day” (why the quotes?) so you can despair at the results of your holiday eating, but also National Pepper Pot Day, celebrating a soup of meat, tripe, and pepper that sustained George Washington’s troops when they were encamped at Valley Forge during the frigid winter of 1777-1778 .
Finally, it’s Still Need to Do Day, reminding you to finish those tasks you meant to accomplish in 2019.
The weather continues to be unseasonably warm in Chicago: though it’s drizzling right now, today’s high is predicted to be a steamy 62° F (17° C)! It will get cooler as the week progresses, but no snow is on the horizon.
Stuff that happened on December 29 include:
- 1170 – Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, is assassinated inside Canterbury Cathedral by followers of King Henry II; he subsequently becomes a saint and martyr in the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church.
Do you remember the 1964 movie Becket, starring Peter O’Toole and Richard Burton as the Archbishop? Here’s the scene in which Becket is told he is charged with crimes.
- 1845 – In accordance with International Boundary delimitation, the United States annexes the Republic of Texas, following the manifest destiny doctrine. The Republic of Texas, which had been independent since the Texas Revolution of 1836, is thereupon admitted as the 28th U.S. state.
- 1851 – The first American YMCA opens in Boston, Massachusetts.
- 1890 – Wounded Knee Massacre on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, 300 Lakota are killed by the United States 7th Cavalry Regiment.
- 1916 – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the first novel by James Joyce, was first published as a book by an American publishing house B. W. Huebschis after it had been serialized in The Egoist (1914–15).
A so-so copy of the first edition of that book will run you around $3800, but that’s not nearly as much as a first edition of Ulysses, which will cost you about $40,000 unsigned and $150,000 signed (only 1000 copies were printed).
- 1937 – The Irish Free State is replaced by a new state called Ireland with the adoption of a new constitution.
- 1989 – Czech writer, philosopher and dissident Václav Havel is elected the first post-communist President of Czechoslovakia.
- 1997 – Hong Kong begins to kill all the city’s 1.25 million chickens to stop the spread of a potentially deadly influenza strain.
- 2011 – Samoa and Tokelau skip straight to December 31 when moving from one side of the International Date Line to another.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1876 – Pablo Casals, Catalan cellist and conductor (d. 1973)
- 1936 – Mary Tyler Moore, American actress and producer (d. 2017)
- 1943 – Rick Danko, Canadian singer-songwriter, bass player, and producer (d. 1999)
- 1963 – Dave McKean, English illustrator, photographer, director, and pianist
McKean is a famous British artist, illustrator, writer, and polymath who illustrated many of Neil Gaiman’s books. He also did the illustrations for Dawkins’s The Magic of Reality. Here’s a cat in a phylogeny from that book:
And McKean’s cover illustration for the book Varjak Paw by S. F. Said, about a cat whose name is the title:
- 1972 – Jude Law, English actor
Those who crossed the Rainbow Bridge on December 29 include:
- 1894 – Christina Rossetti, English poet and hymn-writer (b. 1830)
- 1926 – Rainer Maria Rilke, Austrian poet and author (b. 1875)
- 1937 – Don Marquis, American journalist, author, and playwright (b. 1878)
- 1986 – Harold Macmillan, English captain and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1894)
- 2004 – Julius Axelrod, American biochemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1912)
If you know your onions (and books), you’ll know that Marquis was the author of the Archy and Mehitabel series, detailing the adventures of a typing cockroach and a beat-up alley cat:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is freaked out by the lodger’s footwear:
Hili: What monstrosity is that?Paulina: It’s my slipper.Hili: You have no mercy.(Photo: Paulina R.)
Hili: Co to za zmora?
Paulina: To mój pantofel.
Hili: Nie masz litości.(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)
From Jesus of the Day:
And a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon from reader Barry. Is math a religion?
Tweets from Matthew, beginning with the daily exodus of fowls from Marsh Farm Barn, which is led by a flying duck! Once again Cuthbert is given Goose Privilege by being named—again!
— caenhillcc (@caenhillcc) December 29, 2019
I had no idea that this happened at the University of Chicago, and I don’t know the details, but there you are:
Every year, the University of Chicago has an Italian Renaissance class that re-enacts the papal election of ~1492
Students are given goals and resources and are let loose.
— Adam J Calhoun (@neuroecology) December 28, 2019
Okay, how are these things moved around?
Looks like real
— Роман Федорцов (@rfedortsov) December 28, 2019
Have a gander at this beautiful fly:
Stop staring at this hammerhead fly’s shiny blue booty. It’s rude. pic.twitter.com/6nibWlr04e
— Alex Wild (@Myrmecos) December 27, 2019
A bad (and self-aggrandizing) screw-up by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
This Ebola vaccine was developed in Canada, by the PHAC in Winnipeg. It was researched & worked on for years.
— Amanda 🇨🇦🇺🇸 (@ShooguhLipz) December 26, 2019
I don’t know why, but it seems to me that a bristly pig would have an itchy back (sound up):
Many years of practice… 🤣🤣🐷🐷
Dudley's itching for an EPIG scratchy session 🐷 pic.twitter.com/EBpDpCU8FH
— Curly Tails (@curlytailspigs) December 27, 2019
Draw a kitten by New Year’s Day! I’ll put up a few examples I found at the #DrawAKitten hashtag.
DON’T FORGET! only just under 4 days left to #DrawAKitten! Sober up & get scribbling!
— Martin Rowson (@MartinRowson) December 28, 2019
— James Mellor (@JamesDFMellor) December 22, 2019
— Dan Segar (@mrdanielsegar) December 26, 2019
— Rob Bullen Cartoons (@robbybullen) December 22, 2019