Formally, today is the beginning of a new week: Sunday, April 5, 2020. But “work week” has lost most of its meaning. For the faithful, it’s Palm Sunday. It’s National Deep Dish Pizza Day (a specialty of Chicago), National Caramel Day and National Raisin & Spice Bar Day. Finally, it’s Geologists Day and a very weird holiday, First Contact Day, a fictional day from Star Trek:
On April 5, 2063, the first contact between humans and aliens took place, when the Vulcan ship T’Plana-Hath landed in Bozeman, Montana.
I think you’re supposed to greet people today by making Spock’s “V sign”.
News of the Day: It ain’t any better than yesterday. Trump continues to gibber wildly, in his latest press conference both suggesting that the pandemic is about to hit its worst weeks in the U.S. to the moronic suggestion that Americans may be able to assemble in church on Easter. Does he know when Easter is? (Notice how close everybody stands to each other during his pressers.) And he’s recommending that we all take hydroxychloroquine, an unproven treatment for the virus. Over the world, about 65,000 people have died of the virus, with about 8500 of them in the U.S.
In Italy, they’re weighing a plan that will let people go back to work only if they have the Covid-19 antibodies, i.e., if they’ve been affected. Jebus! To see some horrific pictures of what’s going on in Italy, see here. An op-ed in today’s New York Times recommends you stop using toilet paper. As if someone’s going to install a bidet in your home these days!
When I went to put my recycling in the bins this morning, I was greeted with this Sign of the Times. (Someone’s eating a lot of palm oil!)
Stuff that happened on April 5 includes:
- 1242 – During the Battle on the Ice of Lake Peipus, Russian forces, led by Alexander Nevsky, rebuff an invasion attempt by the Teutonic Knights.
Here’s the famous scene of the Battle of the Ice from the Movie “Alexander Nevsky“, directed by Sergei Eisenstein (1938).
- 1614 – In Virginia, Native American Pocahontas marries English colonist John Rolfe.
- 1722 – The Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen discovers Easter Island.
- 1792 – United States President George Washington exercises his authority to veto a bill, the first time this power is used in the United States.
- 1900 – Archaeologists in Knossos, Crete, discover a large cache of clay tablets with hieroglyphic writing in a script they call Linear B.
This is the earliest known form of Greek, Mycenaean Greek, and was used at Knossos, confirming that a form of Greek was spoken in the Minoan civilizations. Here’s a specimen with the caption from Wikipedia.
- 1904 – The first international rugby league match is played between England and an Other Nationalities team (Welsh and Scottish players) in Central Park, Wigan, England.
- 1922 – The American Birth Control League, forerunner of Planned Parenthood, is incorporated.
- 1945 – Cold War: Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito signs an agreement with the Soviet Union to allow “temporary entry of Soviet troops into Yugoslav territory”.
- 1951 – Cold War: Ethel and Julius Rosenberg are sentenced to death for spying for the Soviet Union.
- 1956 – Cuban Revolution: Fidel Castro declares himself at war with Cuban President Fulgencio Batista.
- 1969 – Vietnam War: Massive antiwar demonstrations occur in many U.S. cities.
- 1999 – Two Libyans suspected of bringing down Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988 are handed over for eventual trial in the Netherlands.
270 people died in that bombing, 11 of them struck on the ground by the falling plane. Only one suspect was convicted, and was released in 2009 on “compassionate ground,” having been diagnosed with terminal metastatic prostate cancer and deemed likely to die within three months. He lived as a free man in Libya for 2 years and 9 months before dying. Here’s the guy, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi :
Notables born on this day include:
- 1588 – Thomas Hobbes, English philosopher (d. 1679)
- 1649 – Elihu Yale, American-English merchant and philanthropist (d. 1721)
- 1732 – Jean-Honoré Fragonard, French painter and etcher (d. 1806)
- 1827 – Joseph Lister, English surgeon and academic (d. 1912)
- 1856 – Booker T. Washington, African-American educator, essayist and historian (d. 1915)
- 1900 – Spencer Tracy, American actor (d. 1967)
- 1902 – Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Russian-American rabbi (d. 1994)
Schneerson, head of the Lubavitcher sect of Hasidic Jews in New York, was deemed by his followers to be the promised Messiah, and that he would never die. But of course he did. That didn’t dissuade the Lubavitchers, as the sect goes on. Here’s the faux Messiah:
- 1908 – Bette Davis, American actress (d. 1989)
- 1916 – Gregory Peck, American actor, political activist, and producer (d. 2003)
- 1925 – Janet Rowley, American human geneticist (d. 2013)
- 1937 – Colin Powell, American general and politician, 65th United States Secretary of State
- 1973 – Pharrell Williams, American visionary, aspiring cyclist, and failed footballer
Check out Williams’s description. He must have had a hand in writing it!
It was curtains for these folks on April 5:
- 1964 – Douglas MacArthur, American general (b. 1880)
- 1970 – Alfred Sturtevant, American geneticist and academic (b. 1891)
Sturtevant, a fiercely smart geneticist, was in my academic lineage as a student of Thomas Hunt Morgan, my academic great-grandfather. Here’s “Sturt” as a young hot dog and an older man still pushing flies:
- 1975 – Chiang Kai-shek, Chinese general and politician, 1st President of the Republic of China (b. 1887)
- 1982 – Abe Fortas, American lawyer and jurist (b. 1910)
- 1994 – Kurt Cobain, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1967)
- 1997 – Allen Ginsberg, American poet (b. 1926)
- 2005 – Saul Bellow, Canadian-American novelist, essayist and short story writer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1915)
- 2006 – Gene Pitney, American singer-songwriter (b. 1941)
- 2014 – Peter Matthiessen, American novelist, short story writer, editor, co-founded The Paris Review (b. 1927)
- 2019 – Sydney Brenner, South African biologist (b. 1927)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Szaron, on the top step, is still a bit scared of Hili (“she”), for the cats are rarely so close to each other:
Szaron: Does she know I’m sitting here?A: Why do you ask me?
Szaron: Czy ona wie, że ja tu siedzę?
Ja: Dlaczego mnie o to pytasz?
From reader Pliny the in Between’s Far Corner Cafe, re the NRA suing New York State for closing gun shops during the pandemic.
From reader Bruce:
Posted by Diana MacPherson: a virtual spider for quarantine time:
From The Mind Awakened via reader Divy; captioned “perfect social distancing”:
From the Queen. There are a lot of posts on Facebook and other social media that are the equivalent to the first sentence of the one below, except that they’re serious. (That’s probably why Titania wrote this.)
Just wanted to say that I think the pandemic is a bad thing and I care about the elderly and the vulnerable.
Please retweet so that everyone can appreciate my commendable moral stance.
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) March 30, 2020
I was so outraged by this (and I assume it’s true) that I retweeted it:
This is OUTRAGEOUS! Medical supplies are being brought to the U.S. by the government and then conveyed to profit-making middlemen rather than those who need them. It's immoral and scandalous. "We're here to help business, not sick people."
And it leads to bidding wars. https://t.co/Ly6BW5ooP6
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) April 4, 2020
A tweet from Heather Hastie with a witticism:
Tweet of the week. https://t.co/ySuYm4Fj5I
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) April 3, 2020
Tweets from Matthew. Here’s a “sprite“, an electrical discharge above thunderstorm clouds. I didn’t know they existed until I saw this.
Probably my favorite sprite scene from 2018 over Kaw Lake ,Ok. Only 1 of 3 cameras caught this super quick jellyfish sprite. They are some of the largest, brightest, quickest and most intricate of the sprite family. #kswx #okwx #NASA @esa @emilyrsutton @AccuAstronomy @BBCEarth pic.twitter.com/z14Y8sEnQR
— Paul M Smith (@PaulMSmithPhoto) April 4, 2020
Here’s the first video taken of a sprite:
And some more: look for the red flashes:
And dig these crazy fish. They can climb trees!
Turn sound up: essential to hear this poor, poor kitty, especially the second meow.
Dear God give him whatever he wants pic.twitter.com/JZYj7UQ2mZ
— tony montana⁷ 💜 🇭🇹💋 (@Omgitstamz) March 31, 2020