It’s Saturday, February 8, 2020, and “National Potato Lover’s Day”. Because of the apostrophe placement, I have to ask this: “Who is the one potato lover being celebrated today?”
It’s also National Molasses Bar Day, a confection I haven’t tried, National Boy Scouts Day, commemorating the day of that group’s American founding in 1910, Opera Day, and, importantly, Propose Day (the second day of “Valentine Week”, which I didn’t know existed), a day when you’re supposed to pop the question to your significant other.
Stuff that happened on February 8 includes:
- 1587 – Mary, Queen of Scots, is executed on suspicion of having been involved in the Babington Plot to murder her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I.
- 1693 – The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, is granted a charter by King William III and Queen Mary II. [JAC: After Harvard, W&M is the oldest college in America]
William & Mary, my undergraduate alma mater, is also the only college in the U.S. with a royal seal. I have that on my ring, which I’ve worn every day since 1971:
- 1915 – D. W. Griffith’s controversial film The Birth of a Nation premieres in Los Angeles.
- 1924 – Capital punishment: The first state execution in the United States by gas chamber takes place in Nevada.
This is a horrible way to execute somebody, and though I’m opposed to capital punishment, if you must do it they should use lethal injections (sadly, they can’t get the right drugs these days).
- 1946 – The first portion of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, the first serious challenge to the popularity of the Authorized King James Version, is published.
- 1960 – Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom issues an Order-in-Council, stating that she and her family would be known as the House of Windsor, and that her descendants will take the name Mountbatten-Windsor.
- 1963 – Travel, financial and commercial transactions by United States citizens to Cuba are made illegal by the John F. Kennedy administration.
This also outlawed the purchase of Cuban cigars by Americans, a ban that holds to this day. Since President Kennedy was a fan of a good Havana, he had Pierre Salinger, his press secretary, go out and buy him 1200 Petit Upmanns right before he signed the decree in 1962 making their purchase illegal. The story is here.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1577 – Robert Burton, English priest, physician, and scholar (d. 1640)
- 1819 – John Ruskin, English author, critic, and academic (d. 1900)
- 1828 – Jules Verne, French author, poet, and playwright (d. 1905)
- 1834 – Dmitri Mendeleev, Russian chemist and academic (d. 1907)
- 1878 – Martin Buber, Austrian-Israeli philosopher and academic (d. 1965)
- 1921 – Lana Turner, American actress (d. 1995)
- 1922 – Audrey Meadows, American actress and banker (d. 1996)
- 1925 – Jack Lemmon, American actor (d. 2001)
- 1926 – Neal Cassady, American author and poet (d. 1968)
- 1940 – Ted Koppel, English-American journalist. [Koppel is 80 today.]
- 1953 – Mary Steenburgen, American actress
Happy 86th birthday to Donna Stoneman. Here she is with the Stoneman Family in 1967 playing mandolin on “Cripple Creek,” accompanied by her sister Roni and brothers Jimmy and Van. pic.twitter.com/H8v4Ei9S5R
— Dust-to-Digital (@dusttodigital) February 7, 2020
Those who became corpses on February 8 include:
- 1587 – Mary, Queen of Scots (b. 1542)
- 1725 – Peter the Great, Russian emperor (b. 1672)
- 1921 – Peter Kropotkin, Russian zoologist, geographer, and philologist (b. 1842)
- 1999 – Iris Murdoch, Irish-born British novelist and philosopher (b. 1919)
- 2007 – Anna Nicole Smith, American model and actress (b. 1967)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is sick of winter—and quite chubby! As for the “no winter”, Malgorzata explains:
Normally, winter in Poland lasts from December to February. Neither in December nor in January was there was any winter (no snow, temperatures were above freezing). Hili is asking whether February will be winter-free as well.Hili: Do you think that there will be no winter this month either?A: I’m afraid not.
Hili: Czy myślisz, że w tym miesiącu też nie będzie zimy?
Ja: Obawiam się, że nie.
And in nearly Wloclawek, Mietek the Kitten, now fully healed, is growing up and doing monologues. Isn’t he cute?
Mietek: I’m trying to incorporate myself into this still life.
From Bad Cat Clothing:
From Jesus of the Day:
And, from GIPHY, Michelangelo for the next generation:
From Dom, a lovely weevil. He also sent a link to the species (here).
Another view of the New Zealand endemic black-spined weevil, Scolopterus penicillatus.
What's not to love? So round yet spiny, very shiny, little tufts of setae off the spines, a good weevil snoot. And check out those tarsal pads–beetle feet!
Karangahake Gorge, NZ pic.twitter.com/GTAhTIT15z
— Erin Powell, Ph.D. (@erincpow) February 6, 2020
From reader Barry. If ever a pig looked fab, this is the one. And look at that expression! Sound up to hear some piggly grunts of pleasure.
She's getting her hair done and feeling fabulous ❤
IG thislittlepiggyusa pic.twitter.com/j6HB9hOfyF
— 🌊❄️🐈🏳️🌈 Dexter (@SoyBoyManBun) February 6, 2020
Tweets from Matthew. Here’s the end of a many-hour courtship, and I can’t quite spot the moment of “climax”:
Courtship in whip spiders can last up to 10 hours. I don't expect anyone to wait this long, so for those interested in the final phase: The male secretes a spermatophore (Y-shaped stalk containing sperm) and lures the female to collect it. Remember these animals are almost blind! pic.twitter.com/euS3FnzZF1
— Gil Wizen (@wizentrop) February 6, 2020
Matthew and I love these murmurations, which are explained by the birds following one or two simple rules of movement. Amazingly, they never run into each other! (Well, hardly ever. . . )
— Tam Verden (@TamsinVerden) February 7, 2020
I should have posted this tweet two days ago, but notice that Lyell’s book preceded Darwin’s own book on human evolution by 8 years. Lyell was, of course, one of Darwin’s mentors.
Charles Lyell's book the Antiquity of Man was published #OnThisDay in 1863! He reviewed the evidence for prehistoric humans once having lived alongside mammoths and examined #fossils including the first recognized Neanderthal. https://t.co/w61Det1rUO pic.twitter.com/paGroPvBpa
— Paige Madison (@FossilHistory) February 6, 2020
Beautiful video of a graceful, albeit highly predatory, creature. They are called Clione limacina, so named as they feast on Limacina, or sea butterflies – angels eating butterflies! An occasional presence on our samples @thembauk @CPRSurvey https://t.co/MJMzkCWzud
— David Johns (@DavidGJOHNS1) February 6, 2020
Would you have guessed this is a mollusk?
Astro Christie (Christina Koch) returned to Earth, setting a record for U.S. women in space, just 12 days short of the male record. She’s now confined while they study what happened to her body and physiology during nearly a year at zero gravity.
— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) February 6, 2020