We’ve arrived at mid-week, since it’s Wednesday, February 19, 2020. It’s National Chocolate Mint Day, and what better mint than Chicago’s delicious famous chocolate Frango Mint, first sold at Marshall Field’s and now, since that store went extinct, by the new owner Macy’s. Here are some Frangos:
It’s also National Lash Day, not a day to whip people but, as the site says, “to notice and appreciate both true and false eyelashes for the beauty they add to every look” Every look?
It’s also Iwo Jima Day, honoring the day in 1945 when American troops invaded the island, beginning a five-week bloody battle. Wikipedia reports that of the 21,000 Japanese soldiers on the island, dug into an extensive system of tunnels and trenches, only 216 were taken prisoner, though some of the 3,000 who hid surrendered later, some as late as 1949. The Americans lost 6,821 men, with 19,217 wounded.
The two Clint Eastwood movies about the battle, Flags of Our Fathers (shown from the American side) and Letters from Iwo Jima (from the Japanese side), are excellent, though the box office take from both films was small. Here’s a compendium of the battle scenes, following the landing, from Flags of Our Fathers. Don’t watch it if you can’t abide movie war violence:
News of the day: Yesterday “President” Trump went on a pardon spree, commuting the sentences of or pardoning eleven malefactors, including our ex-governor Rod Blagojevich (he was given 14 years for corruption, but served 8 so far). The list of the pardoned is here. This raises the question of whether anybody beyond parole boards, and that includes not only Presidents but governors, should have the right to pardon people. Hold on with your comments; we’ll have a discussion of that soon.
Stuff that happened on February 19 include:
- 356 – Emperor Constantius II issues a decree closing all pagan temples in the Roman Empire.
- 1600 – The Peruvian stratovolcano Huaynaputina explodes in the most violent eruption in the recorded history of South America. Wikipedia explains:
The 1600 eruption was the largest historical eruption in South America, measuring 6 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index. It occurred on 19 February and continued with a series of events into March. Witnessed by the people of the city of Arequipa, its impact in the region was severe, wiping out vegetation and burying the surroundings with 2 metres (6.6 ft) of volcanic rock; it also damaged infrastructure and economic resources. The eruption had significant effects on Earth’s climate, decreasing temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere, causing floods, famines and cold waves in numerous places, and depositing several million tons of acid. The climate disruption caused social upheaval in many countries such as Russia and may have played a role in the onset of the Little Ice Age.
- 1847 – The first group of rescuers reaches the Donner Party.
- 1878 – Thomas Edison patents the phonograph.
- 1942 – World War II: Nearly 250 Japanese warplanes attack the northern Australian city of Darwin, killing 243 people.
This is said to be the largest attack ever mounted on Australia by a foreign power, though air attacks by the Japanese continued for two years. Here’s a photo, taken by a Japanese pilot, of ships burning in Darwin Harbor after the attack:
- 1945 – World War II: Battle of Iwo Jima: About 30,000 United States Marines land on the island of Iwo Jima. [JAC: see above]
- 1953 – Censorship: Georgia approves the first literature censorship board in the United States.
- 1963 – The publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique reawakens the feminist movement in the United States as women’s organizations and consciousness raising groups spread.
- 1976 – Executive Order 9066, which led to the relocation of Japanese Americans to internment camps, is rescinded by President Gerald Ford’s Proclamation 4417.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1831 – James A. Garfield, American general, lawyer, and politician, 20th President of the United States (d. 1881)
- 1921 – Roy Campanella, American baseball player and coach (d. 1993)
- 1933 – Larry King, American journalist and talk show host
- 1936 – Dick Cavett, American actor and talk show host
- 1938 – Ted Turner, American businessman and philanthropist, founded Turner Broadcasting System
- 1942 – Calvin Klein, American fashion designer, founded Calvin Klein Inc.
- 1956 – Ann Curry, Guamanian-American journalist
- 1959 – Allison Janney, American actress
- 1961 – Meg Ryan, American actress and producer
- 1962 – Jodie Foster, American actress, director, and producer
- 1966 – Shmuley Boteach, American rabbi and author [JAC: I like the name Shmuley, which I believe is a diminutive of “Samuel” in Hebrew. It sounds funny]
Notables who joined the dearly departed on February 19 are few, and include:
- 1703 – Man in the Iron Mask, French prisoner
The mask appears to have been made of velvet, and the prisoner has never been identified, though of course there are candidates. See the link.
Fetchit’s real name was Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry, and although he played the stereotyped servile and lazy black character, he became the first African-American actor to earn a million dollars. Here’s an example of what passed for an acceptable character back then: Fetchit in the movie Marie Galante in 1934. It’s a sign of progress that this would never, ever pass muster in movies today.
- 2013 – Frederick Sanger, English biochemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1918)
- 2014 – Mike Nichols, German-American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1931)
- 2017 – Mel Tillis, American singer and songwriter (b. 1932)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is anticipating warmer weather when she can roam outside:
Hili: I have the feeling that the days are getting longer and longer.A: You are not mistaken.
Hili: Mam wrażenie, że dni są już coraz dłuższe.
Ja: Nie mylisz się.
And some exciting news from Dobrzyn: the black tabby that Andrzej and Malgorzata have been feeding has become more tame, and is now permitting both of them to pet him (it’s a male). He’s been named Szaron, and has moved into the garage, but the plans are to move him into the house as soon as he’s sufficiently tame. If Hili cannot tolerate him, the lodgers upstairs, who love cats, have promised to adopt him. Here’s Szaron, who has an unusual black and gray tabby pattern:
Posted by reader Beth:
From Jesus of the Day:
And a video sent by readers Merilee and Michael. The notes:
August 2nd, 2016. “A pair of wild bear cubs were caught on camera escaping from the summer heat by playing in a water-filled backyard planter of a family’s home in Pasadena, California. Sainty Wang and Carlos Chavez captured the adorable moment from behind a sliding glass door at their home. The two cubs squeezed into the planter much like birds would use a birdbath. The couple says that the mother bear was keeping an eye on her cubs from close by. The cute video ends with the bears crawling out of their makeshift tub and running out of the yard.”
A tweet from Colin Wright, who co-wrote the Wall Street Journal piece we discussed on the distinctness of the sexes. What he notes below is very odd, and I wonder why UC Santa Cruz is asking the question.
Graduate student applications at UC Santa Cruz ask not only about your gender identity, but about how masculine/feminine you present. While voluntary, this seems like an extremely odd thing to ask. pic.twitter.com/GZjNIQL4dJ
— Colin Wright (@SwipeWright) December 18, 2019
A tweet sent by reader Barry, who says it looks like an outtake from Jurassic Park. Look at that gator! More important, are these guys completely nuts?
Two tweets from Heather Hastie. I’d see the first video before, but hadn’t realized it was Adam Savage’s idea, nor that it was him in the carriage.
Adam Savage's first project with Boston Dynamics' Spot robot gives it a novel purpose: pulling a custom-built carriage with Adam as its passenger. Watch Adam give Spot some Victorian flair [full video: https://t.co/Yhi0n3AnBq] pic.twitter.com/Hulrc3UqXY
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) February 14, 2020
And another tweet proving that cats are liquids:
A tweet from Hemant, sent by Matthew.
Well, that backfired. pic.twitter.com/BuCC8YA6KT
— Hemant Mehta (@hemantmehta) February 17, 2020
More tweets from Matthew. By now everyone here should know what mitosis is:
— wen hange's gf (real) (@durinsreign) February 15, 2020
An awesome bird. One of these flew overhead when I was in Northern California, and was much closer than this one. Park rangers along Route 101 will tell you where you might see one.
Seeing a California condor (less than 350 in the wild) swoop by a few feet away was probably the most awe-inspiring thing that has ever happened to me pic.twitter.com/XaYvlsTKQV
— Sean (@Willetton) February 18, 2020
Enlarge the photo if you miss the fifth beetle (no, it’s not George Martin):
Ah, the wonders of the Amazon! ❤️
Five species (yup, count again!) of beetles feeding on a fungus feeding on a dead tree.
— João Menezes (@jocate_me) February 14, 2020