Good morning on a chilly morning in Boston (currently 17° C or -8° C). It’s Tuesday, January 21, 2020, and my last full day in Cambridge. I’ll be sad to leave, but it’s been fun to return to my old stomping grounds (I lived in Boston for two years and across the river in Cambridge for four more).
It’s National New England Clam Chowder Day (or as they say here, “Clam Chowdah”), as well as National Granola Bar Day. It’s also Squirrel Appreciation Day, International Sweatpants Day, National Hugging Day (also observed in many other countries) and “Grandma’s Day” in Poland.
I had a dream: I slept soundly last night, but had a weird dream. I was wandering by a lake, and all the Democratic candidates for President were sitting on a wharf with their fishing lines in the water. I got tangled in them, and Bernie Sanders yelled at me to get out of the way. Then, taking a boat across the lake, I passed a number of souvenir stands selling items like hats and buttons that accused Bernie of being a pedophile, having abducted an underaged girl named “Peanut”. What does this mean? Does it mean that I have a deep but hidden animus towards The Bern?
Stuff that happened on January 21 includes:
- 1789 – The first American novel, The Power of Sympathy or the Triumph of Nature Founded in Truth by William Hill Brown, is printed in Boston.
Wikipedia gives a summary of this “sentimental novel written in an epistolary form”, and it doesn’t inspire me to read it:
The Power of Sympathy was Brown’s first novel. The characters’ struggles illustrate the dangers of seduction and the pitfalls of giving in to one’s passions, while advocating the moral education of women and the use of rational thinking as ways to prevent the consequences of such actions.
I’m guessing that among all those reading this, none has ever read that novel.
- 1793 – After being found guilty of treason by the French National Convention, Louis XVI of France is executed by guillotine.
- 1908 – New York City passes the Sullivan Ordinance, making it illegal for women to smoke in public, only to have the measure vetoed by the mayor.
- 1950 – American lawyer and government official Alger Hiss is convicted of perjury.
- 1954 – The first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus, is launched in Groton, Connecticut by Mamie Eisenhower, the First Lady of the United States.
- 1976 – Commercial service of Concorde begins with the London-Bahrain and Paris-Rio routes.
- 1981 – Production of the iconic DeLorean sports car begins in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom.
The DeLorean was made only from 1981-1983, and was famous for its distinctive gull-wing doors, stainless steel body, and fiberglass frame (below: a 1981 model). I suspect they are expensive collector’s items now:
- 1997 – The U.S. House of Representatives votes 395–28 to reprimand Newt Gingrich for ethics violations, making him the first Speaker of the House to be so disciplined.
- 2009 – Israel withdraws from the Gaza Strip, officially ending a three-week war it had with Hamas. However, intermittent fire by both sides continues in the weeks to follow.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1738 – Ethan Allen, American general (d. 1789)
- 1813 – John C. Frémont, American general, explorer, and politician, 5th Territorial Governor of Arizona (d. 1890)
- 1869 – Grigori Rasputin, Russian Mystic (d. 1916)
Rasputin (I was once compared to him in my hairy hippie days by a horrified old dowager whom I walked down the aisle as a groomsman at a friend’s wedding):
- 1905 – Karl Wallenda, German-American acrobat and tightrope walker, founded The Flying Wallendas (d. 1978)
Wallenda, still performing at 73, fell to his death from a high wire in Puerto Rico in 1978.
- 1924 – Benny Hill, English actor, singer, and screenwriter (d. 1992)
Hill was famous for his sketches with lovely and semi-clad women. I found his humor bawdy and not nearly as funny as that of Monty Python. If you watched it (it was on American t.v.), you probably remember scenes like these:
- 1938 – Wolfman Jack, American radio host (d. 1995)
- 1940 – Jack Nicklaus, American golfer and sportscaster
- 1941 – Plácido Domingo, Spanish tenor and conductor
- 1941 – Richie Havens, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2013)
- 1951 – Eric Holder, American lawyer, judge, and politician, 82nd United States Attorney General
Those who experienced their demise on January 21 include:
Lenin was a cat lover, which doesn’t mitigate his crimes:
- 1926 – Camillo Golgi, Italian physician and pathologist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1843)
- 1932 – Lytton Strachey, English writer and critic (b. 1880)
- 1959 – Cecil B. DeMille, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1881)
- 2002 – Peggy Lee, American singer (b. 1920)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is afraid of the eagles—probably white-tailed eagles—that regularly appear near her house:
Hili: The eagles are back.A: They were here yesterday.Hili: Yesterday there were three of them and today there are four.
Hili: Orły wróciły.
Ja: Były już wczoraj.
Hili: Wczoraj były trzy, a dziś są cztery.
From Jesus of the Day:
Also from Jesus of the Day:
From The Purrfect Feline Facebook page:
A tweet from me: see the photo and read the story:
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) January 20, 2020
From reader j.j.: Is the cat here looking for the prettiest pig, or the most comfortable one?
Each pig has its merits, but only one can be the chosen pig. pic.twitter.com/gU2FUtjaSo
— Dick King-Smith HQ (@DickKingSmith) January 19, 2020
Two tweets from Heather Hastie, the second sent to her by Ann German:
"sorry I'm late for work, i got mugged by an ostrich again"
📹: Imgur user ARussianAndHisBike pic.twitter.com/khN91i0J80
— Paul Bronks (@SlenderSherbet) January 13, 2020
Trump, who has been an environmental disaster, says he’s reading a book to learn about climate change.
Turns out the book is called “Donald J. Trump: An Environmental Hero.”
Honestly cannot make this stuff up.https://t.co/OPBVD1OvBW
— Mike Levin (@MikeLevin) January 12, 2020
Tweets from Matthew. The first one is TRUEFACT:
One can’t be angry when one looks at a Penguin.
— Maria Konnikova (@mkonnikova) January 20, 2020
I once had a baby skunk, and yes, from its early youth it tried to squirt (it was “de-scented”):
Baby skunks are born knowing how to do the cutest thing 🖤 pic.twitter.com/UekLlR4RU8
— The Dodo (@dodo) January 20, 2020
An intrepid cheetah fights—and vanquishes—the rapids:
— Kicheche Camps (@KichecheCamps) January 19, 2020
Ducks en masse!
I’ll try that piece of video again, as it came out rubbish!
Feeding frenzy at Martin Mere….. pic.twitter.com/Pm7LSqSBTR
— Glen Maddison (@GlenOrioleglen) January 19, 2020