It’s Thursday, February 20, 2020: only three more days before my week’s R&R&E in Paris. Remember, posting will be very light next week, and access to email restricted, so please try not to email me from Sunday through March 4—unless it’s urgent.
It’s a double food holiday: :National Cherry Pie Day as well as National Muffin Day. (I prefer the pie.) It’s Fat Thursday, a Mardi Gras holiday, World Day of Social Justice, Love Your Pet Day (who doesn’t?), and Northern Hemisphere Hoodie Hoo Day, a weird holiday described thusly:
Founded by renowned holiday creators Thomas and Ruth Roy of Wellcat Holidays, this holiday was made to help chase away winter and usher in spring. In the Northern Hemisphere, spring usually begins on March 20, but can start on March 19 or March 21. Thus, the holiday is celebrated about month before the end of winter. A Southern Hemisphere counterpart is celebrated on August 22, about a month before the start of spring in that hemisphere.
I’d rather it be Duck Anticipation Day, it being about a month before my beloved mallard Honey is expected to return.
News of the Day: I didn’t watch the Democratic debate last night, but the news suggests it was a free-for-all. Here’s the first paragraph of the New York Times report:
LAS VEGAS — The Democratic presidential candidates turned on one another in scorching and personal terms in a debate on Wednesday night, with two of the leading candidates, Senator Bernie Sanders and Michael R. Bloomberg, forced onto the defensive repeatedly throughout the evening.
Here’s a sub-header from another article:
Oy! We shall discuss it soon, so, if you watched it, hold your comments.
Stuff that happened on February 20 include:
- 1792 – The Postal Service Act, establishing the United States Post Office Department, is signed by United States President George Washington.
- 1816 – Rossini’s opera The Barber of Seville premieres at the Teatro Argentina in Rome.
- 1872 – The Metropolitan Museum of Art opens in New York City.
- 1877 – Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake receives its premiere at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.
- 1933 – The U.S. Congress approves the Blaine Act to repeal federal Prohibition in the United States, sending the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution to state ratifying conventions for approval.
- 1935 – Caroline Mikkelsen becomes the first woman to set foot in Antarctica.
Here’s Mikkelsen, and a photo of her raising the Norwegian flag on the continent of Antarctica (she was part of an expedition in which Norway was looking for Antarctic land to claim). That’s not exactly Antarctic garb they’re all wearing in the second photo.
Here’s O’Hare in his Wildcat fighter; each Japanese flag represents a plane shot down, and five planes makes an “ace.” Note the Felix the Cat with bomb emblem, the symbol of Fighter Squadron VF-3 (now VF-31):
O’Hare airport in Chicago is named for the man, who was killed by a Japanese bomber in 1943.
- 1943 – The Saturday Evening Post publishes the first of Norman Rockwell‘s Four Freedoms in support of United States President Franklin Roosevelt‘s 1941 State of the Union address theme of Four Freedoms.
Here’s the original of that painting, “Freedom of Speech,” which now resides in the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. I took the picture during the “Moving Naturalism Forward” meeting in October, 2012. A free-speech
and genocide advocate stands beside it:
- 1952 – Emmett Ashford becomes the first African-American umpire in organized baseball by being authorized to be a substitute umpire in the Southwestern International League.
- 1962 – Mercury program: While aboard Friendship 7, John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the earth, making three orbits in four hours, 55 minutes.
- 2005 – Spain becomes the first country to vote in a referendum on ratification of the proposed Constitution of the European Union, passing it by a substantial margin, but on a low turnout.
Here’s a short video about Ashford. He started umpiring at 51, and worked four seasons, retiring after the league’s required retirement age of 55.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1844 – Ludwig Boltzmann, Austrian physicist and philosopher (d. 1906)
- 1901 – René Dubos, French-American biologist and author (d. 1982)
- 1901 – Louis Kahn, American architect, designed the Salk Institute, the Kimbell Art Museum and the Bangladesh Parliament Building (d. 1974)
- 1902 – Ansel Adams, American photographer and environmentalist (d. 1984)
- 1925 – Robert Altman, American director and screenwriter (d. 2006)
- 1927 – Roy Cohn, American lawyer and political activist (d. 1986)
- 1941 – Buffy Sainte-Marie, Canadian singer-songwriter and producer
- 1954 – Patty Hearst, American actress and author
- 1966 – Cindy Crawford, American model and businesswoman
- 1984 – Trevor Noah, South African comedian, actor, and television host
- 1988 – Rihanna, Barbadian-American singer-songwriter and actress
Those who petered out on February 20 include:
- 1895 – Frederick Douglass, American author and activist (b. 1818)
- 1920 – Robert Peary, American admiral and explorer (b. 1856)
- 1999 – Gene Siskel, American journalist and critic (b. 1946)
- 2005 – Hunter S. Thompson, American journalist and author (b. 1937)
Here’s the gonzo man himself (he shot himself at age 67, and, at his funeral, his ashes were fired from a cannon to the accompaniment of fireworks.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is pensive:\
Hili: Contemplation takes up a lot of my time.A: And what are you contemplating?Hili: Whatever I can lay my eyes on.
Hili: Wiele czasu zajmuje mi kontemplacja.
Ja: A co kontemplujesz?
Hili: Co mi w oczy wpadnie.
And Szaron, the feral cat who’s in the process of being lured into a Forever Home in Dobrzyn, has stolen the lodger’s breakfast, running away with a pate sandwich in a plastic bag. (There’s a funny video of the theft on Andrzej’s Facebook page.) Here he is:
From Vintage Weird, a sign that was apparently at the National Zoo in Washington, D. C. in 1943 (h/t: Krod). The sign doesn’t note that losses could also be incurred there!
A baby giraffe from Wild and Wonderful:
From Jesus of the Day:
A tweet from Luana. TUNASHAMED! (I had tuna yesterday and oy, and I ashamed! Why didn’t Jesus stop me?)
RT if you've been tunashamed 😔🙏 pic.twitter.com/MRMbd4d5t2
— Charles Finch (@CharlesFinch) February 18, 2020
From Dom. This thing could kill you from above. It’s a cone of the Australian confer Bunya (Araucaria bidwilli), related to the monkey puzzle tree.
Heard this Bunya pine cone falling through the canopy then thud on the ground a few metres in front of us yesterday at Adelaide Bot Gardens. Big, spiky, solid & surprisingly much heavier than I had imagined. pic.twitter.com/rkSpYLqnvT
— Dean Nicolle (@DeanNicolle1) February 18, 2020
Two tweets from Simon. First, they did the otter and squirrel genome (two squirrels)!
To celebrate the release of the red #squirrel, grey squirrel and Eurasian #otter genomes by @darwintreelife here are their respective pages from the @sangerinstitute 25 genomes book, with a little information about each animal and how knowing their genome could be useful pic.twitter.com/7VHUhulJIi
— Alex Cagan (@ATJCagan) February 19, 2020
And here’s another release of the squirrel genome. I think you’ll guess early on what’s gonna happen. (Sound up by all means!)
— Heri Estrada (@ch1lakil) February 12, 2020
A tweet from Heather Hastie. Hard to believe there are men like this around, or at least men who aren’t Amish or conservative Mormons.
Hey ladies, GUESS WHAT?! Apparently, if we don’t have men giving us boundaries and telling us our place, WE ARE TOTES THANOS! WHERE MY INFINITY STONES AT?! pic.twitter.com/AZkxHWF49D
— Mel 🤚🏻STAY AT HOME🏡 (@ScientistMel) February 14, 2020
Tweets from Matthew. Octopus see, octopus do. This is really lovely.
— Professor John R. Hutchinson (@JohnRHutchinson) February 19, 2020
Spot the leaf frogs!
First, you can feel smug for seeing one of them. Then, you can feel really smug for seeing ALL of them. [Pic via Christian Ziegler!] pic.twitter.com/NlTxvywQy7
— Jess Keating (@Jess_Keating) February 18, 2020
This is fricking amazing! What a lot of work, but he got a healthy chick!
— Steve Stewart-Williams (@SteveStuWill) February 19, 2020