It’s a dreary Monday in Chicago: February 17, 2020, but it’s warming up, with prediccted high of 38° F (3°C) today. It’s National Café au Lait Day, which is cultural appropriation. Perhaps you should drink a latte instead, which is what I’m quaffing as I write, but that probably treads on Italian culture. It’s National Cabbage Day as well, and also as a day celebrating one of my favorite desserts, National Indian Pudding Day, a true American treat. I used to get it in Boston at Durgin-Park, a classic old restaurant that recently (and sadly) closed; the dessert is still is on tap at the Union Oyster House. If you click on the photo you’ll get a recipe. It’s best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, as shown below.
It’s Presidents Day in the U.S., a federal holiday that used to be known as Washington’s Birthday. George was born on February 22, 1732, but the holiday is now celebrated on the third Monday in February so that workers get a three-day weekend. Finally, it’s Random Acts of Kindness Day and My Way Day, celebrating Frank Sinatra (only kidding about the Chairman of the Board, but it is My Way Day).
News of the Day: I solipsistically note that as of Saturday we passed 70,000 subscribers (see below for latest tally). Will we get to 100,000 before I die? Should I care? But I am chuffed that so many people subscribe, even if not everyone is amazing.
Except for the “blog” characterization, it’s good news.
Stuff that happened on February 17 include:
- 1600 – On his way to be burned at the stake for heresy, at Campo de’ Fiori in Rome, the philosopher Giordano Bruno has a stake put through his tongue to prevent him continuing to speak.
- 1801 – An electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr is resolved when Jefferson is elected President of the United States and Burr, Vice President by the United States House of Representatives. [JAC: That’s even worse than the last election.]
- 1863 – A group of citizens of Geneva founded an International Committee for Relief to the Wounded, which later became known as the International Committee of the Red Cross.
- 1867 – The first ship passes through the Suez Canal.
- 1904 – Madama Butterfly receives its première at La Scala in Milan.
Below is a famous aria from that opera, Un bel dì vedremo, sung by one of my favorites, Dame Kiri (a Kiwi born in Gisborne). I didn’t know until I just looked it up that she was born Claire Mary Teresa Rawstron, and was given up at birth because she was illegitimate. (Can you still use that word?). Te Kanawa is half Māori, and was adopted by another mixed-group couple (she has refused to reconcile with her birth father). Here’s a younger Kiri, age 22, with her adoptive parents:
The lovely aria:
- 1949 – Chaim Weizmann begins his term as the first President of Israel.
- 1980 – First winter ascent of Mount Everest by Krzysztof Wielicki and Leszek Cichy.
- 1996 – In Philadelphia, world champion Garry Kasparov beats the Deep Blue supercomputer in a chess match.
Here’s Wielecki on the summit, photographed by Cichy. He is a tough old bird.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1864 – Banjo Paterson, Australian journalist, author, and poet (d. 1941)
Paterson wrote the Australian National Anthem (well, it may as well be), “Waltzing Matilda“. Here’s an original manuscript from Wikipedia. The explanation:
The title was Australian slang for travelling on foot (waltzing) with one’s belongings in a “matilda” (swag) slung over one’s back. The song narrates the story of an itinerant worker, or “swagman”, making a drink of billy tea at a bush camp and capturing a stray jumbuck (sheep) to eat. When the jumbuck’s owner, a squatter (landowner), and three troopers (mounted policemen) pursue the swagman for theft, he declares “You’ll never catch me alive!” and commits suicide by drowning himself in a nearby billabong (watering hole), after which his ghost haunts the site.
- 1890 – Ronald Fisher, English-Australian statistician, biologist, and geneticist (d. 1962)
Here’s Fisher, one of the smartest biologists of our time, who made fundamental advances in evolutionary genetics and statistics. And yes, he was somewhat of an advocate for eugenics.
- 1921 – Duane Gish, American biochemist and academic (d. 2013)
- 1929 – Chaim Potok, American rabbi and author (d. 2002)
- 1940 – Gene Pitney, American singer-songwriter (d. 2006)
- 1942 – Huey P. Newton, American activist, co-founded the Black Panther Party (d. 1989)
- 1981 – Paris Hilton, American model, media personality, actress, singer, DJ, author and businesswoman
Those who began putrifying on February 16 include:
- 1600 – Giordano Bruno, Italian mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher (b. 1548)
- 1680 – Jan Swammerdam, Dutch biologist, zoologist, and entomologist (b. 1637)
- 1856 – Heinrich Heine, German journalist and poet (b. 1797)
- 1982 – Thelonious Monk, American pianist and composer (b. 1917)
- 1982 – Lee Strasberg, American actor and director (b. 1901)
- 1994 – Randy Shilts, American journalist and author (b. 1951)
- 2013 – Mindy McCready, American singer-songwriter (b. 1975)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili plays dumb.
Hili: Your keyboard is full of hairs.A: I wonder whose they are.
Hili: Twoja klawiatura jest pełna sierści.
Ja: Ciekaw jestem czyjej.
From Jesus of the Day:
A nice GIF I found on Facebook:
And we shouldn’t forget the world’s most famous cat, Maru, who is still up to his old tricks:
A tweet from reader Paul (I may have posted this before, but I grow old . . . )
Understanding Mewtonian Fluid Dynamics: An Introduction. pic.twitter.com/yudtfZzxnC
— Dick King-Smith HQ (@DickKingSmith) February 15, 2020
From Gethyn: caracal encounters a mirror. I wish the sound were better.
Caracal sees itself in the mirror for the first time. 🙀 pic.twitter.com/28DVFMrnJn
— The Sci-Tech Guy (@theSciTechGuy) February 15, 2020
A nice video from reader Barry that he titled, “I got this!”
my late night offerings, for balance, some are weird.)
“Dude, seriously? Step off.
I got this… “pic.twitter.com/LDjwCDgj7n
— Wycked Yum 🔄 (@Wycked_Yum) February 14, 2020
Two tweets from Heather Hastie. I thought this first one was a joke, but it’s not. Republicans are capable of anything! (Anything nefarious, that is. . .)
Republicans think tampons need to be taxed to limit women from buying too many
— The American Independent (@AmerIndependent) February 11, 2020
And a witty response:
Because recreational tampon use is definitely a thing. https://t.co/sIULMLWhfx
— The Hoarse Whisperer (@TheRealHoarse) February 13, 2020
Two tweets from Dr. Cobb. The first one is a Maru-like Muscovy:
— CaenhillCC xtra (@CaenhillCC_xtra) February 16, 2020
Cuttlefish are adorable, even before they’re hatched:
Our friend had a chance to film this flamboyant cuttlefish baby inside the eggs move,but not just moved, it flip itself together with changing its color 😍😍😍 pic.twitter.com/yE2SQ5Bs94
— MaduroDive (@MaduroDive) February 15, 2020