It’s Wednesday, January 29, 2020, with only two more days left in this wretched month. It’s National Corn Chip Day, and the first ones made, Fritos, have been with us for nearly a century. One of the dishes I’d much like to try is Frito Pie, preferably served in the bag. A culinary product of the American Southwest, it was even tried and approved by Anthony Bourdain! (The video below shows what a Frito Pie is.)
News of the day: Reader Bruce Lyon and a colleague have a new paper published in Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. describing their research on why the chicks of the American coot are so colorful (see his latest pictures here, including one of a coot chick). And he got the cover of the journal! Click on the link above to see their explanation for this weird coloration. He’s described this research in four “readers’ wildlife posts” (see here).
Stuff that happened on January 29 includes:
- 1834 – US President Andrew Jackson orders first use of federal soldiers to suppress a labor dispute.
- 1845 – “The Raven” is published in The Evening Mirror in New York, the first publication with the name of the author, Edgar Allan Poe.
- 1886 – Karl Benz patents the first successful gasoline-driven automobile.
- 1891 – Liliuokalani is proclaimed the last monarch and only queen regnant of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
Here is Hawaii’s only queen. She ruled for only two years until she was deposed in 1893 with the advent of the Republic of Hawai’i:
- 1936 – The first inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame are announced.
Can you name them? They were Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, and Honus Wagner: a formidable batch!
- 1963 – The first inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame are announced. [Not a repeat of the above]
- 1967 – The “ultimate high” of the hippie era, the Mantra-Rock Dance, takes place in San Francisco and features Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead, and Allen Ginsberg.
Ahh. . . I remember those days. Here’s the poster for that event, created by Harvey Cohen. If you weren’t alive when all of us youngsters thought we’d change the worlds with music and drugs (it didn’t work), I pity you:
- 1980 – The Rubik’s Cube makes its international debut at the Ideal Toy Corp. in Earl’s Court, London.
- 2002 – In his State of the Union address, President George W. Bush describes “regimes that sponsor terror” as an Axis of evil, in which he includes Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
- 2009 – Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich is removed from office following his conviction of several corruption charges, including the alleged solicitation of personal benefit in exchange for an appointment to the United States Senate as a replacement for then-U.S. president-elect Barack Obama.
Those who found quietus on January 29 include:
- 1888 – Edward Lear, English poet and illustrator (b. 1812)
- 1899 – Alfred Sisley, French-English painter (b. 1839)
- 1934 – Fritz Haber, Polish-German chemist and engineer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1868)
- 1956 – H. L. Mencken, American journalist and critic (b. 1880)
- 1962 – Fritz Kreisler, Austrian-American violinist and composer (b. 1875)
- 1963 – Robert Frost, American poet and playwright (b. 1874)
- 1980 – Jimmy Durante, American entertainer (b. 1893)
- 2015 – Rod McKuen, American singer-songwriter and poet (b. 1933)
Here’s Sisley’s drawing, “The Cat”, from 1870:
And did you know that Lear, besides being an author and poet, was also a painter. Here’s his “Masada on the Dead Sea” from 1858:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is puzzling over physics:
Hili: Although string theory is mathematically coherent, I still don’t understand it.A: I’m afraid you are not alone.
Hili: Aczkolwiek teoria strun jest matematycznie spójna, ja jej nadal nie rozumiem.
Ja: Obawiam się, że nie jesteś w tym osamotniona.
From Cole and Marmalade:
From Jesus of the Day:
Titania highlights (and comments on) the most ridiculous “advice” question I’ve ever seen:
There in no such thing as a heterosexual woman.
You can be a lesbian or you can be an internalised misogynist.
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) January 28, 2020
I haven’t read this paper yet, but I’ve printed it out for reading. It bears on innate sex differences in behavior (toy preference), and this difference is apparently shown by other primates as well:
Sex differences in children's toy preferences are among the largest sex differences known to psychology – and the size of the differences hasn't changed in 50 years, despite increasingly gendered toy advertising. https://t.co/tUxC14IOQq pic.twitter.com/U14Q1n8Dud
— Steve Stewart-Williams (@SteveStuWill) January 28, 2020
Also from Steve Stewart-Williams—artistry with chocolate: a confectionary birdcage!
— Steve Stewart-Williams (@SteveStuWill) January 28, 2020
Reader Barry was intrigued by a strange Japanese species, one that Maru used to be obsessed with. Yes, raccoon dogs are in the family Canidae, not in the family Procyonidae, which includes raccoons. The resemblance is an example of evolutionary convergence.
Neither a raccoon nor a dog, but it does belong to the canid family, which is a lineage that includes dogs, wolves, and foxes. Five subspecies of raccoon dogs exist, including a Japanese species called Tanuki#DogsOfTwitter #Cute pic.twitter.com/PE6A8mZTUr
— Nature Inc. (@Nature_Incorp) January 26, 2020
Tweets sent by Matthew. There’s some cognitive dissonance in this one:
Large boulder the size of a small boulder is completely blocking east-bound lane Highway 145 mm78 at Silverpick Rd. Please use caution and watch for emergency vehicles in the area. pic.twitter.com/EVMmDf0IJu
— San Miguel Sheriff (@SheriffAlert) January 27, 2020
Wombats are among the world’s cutest mammals. Here’s a baby exploring outside its den for the first time:
— Tasmania Today (@today_tasmania) January 28, 2020
I’ve shown this sign before, but perhaps the goose has returned. I love the humor of those who make the Underground announcements:
it has started pic.twitter.com/2hzUR3yWLy
— Tim V (@Ajediday) January 28, 2020
OMG! I’m flummoxed! Make sure the sound is up! I thought koalas would make a cute noise, not a noise like a cat vomiting a hairball:
I don’t know what I thought Koalas sounded like but this wasn’t it pic.twitter.com/gTNE4OJCI4
— Lance 🇱🇨 (@Lancerg_) January 27, 2020