We have a special Easter edition today, with holiday-themed posts. Or so I plan. Welcome to Sunday, April 12, 2020: National Licorice Day, National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, and National Baked Ham with Pineapple Day. (That’s a fine holiday for Passover! When I was a kid and we had ham for dinner, my father would always pronounce it “a good kosher ham.” He also called our Christmas tree “the Hanukkah bush.” Yes, we were truly secular Jews.)
It’s also Drop Everything and Read Day (I suspect most of us are doing this anyway), International Day for Street Children, and International Day of Human Space Flight, honoring Yuri Gagarin, who became the first human in space on April 12, 1961. Gagarin made one 108-minute orbit around the Earth. Here’s a short (2½ minute) NBC News film reporting on Gagarin’s orbital flight:
Gagarin died in 1968 in a plane crash; he was only 34.
It is of course Easter Sunday, and Passover is also underway until next Thursday evening. Let’s celebrate them both!:
Here’s something I published for Easter in 2017:
Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this before (and if you’ve read this site consitently, you have). I love a good Jewish joke, and this is an excellent one for Easter. It comes from the site Southern Jewish Humor, which gets the story from Eli N. Evans, who wrote The Provincials: A Personal History of Jews in the South. (I’m allowed to tell this because I’m Jewish.)
Evans said he searched for the best example he could find of Southern Jewish humor. He told the story of a Jewish storekeeper in a small town who was approached by the Christian elders to show solidarity for their Easter holiday.
Mr. Goldberg was chagrined but when Easter came, after sunrise services on a nearby hilltop, the mayor, all the churchgoers, and the leading families in the city gathered in the town square in front of his store. The store had a new sign but it was draped with a parachute.
After an introduction from the mayor, at the appointed hour, the owner pulled the rope and there it was revealed in all its wonder for all to see: “Christ Has Risen, but Goldberg’s prices remain the same.”
News of the Day: Need I say that it isn’t good? As of this morning, the death toll for coronavirus in the U.S. stands at 20,601; in the world it’s 108,994. All over the U.S., but especially in the South, the faith-ridden yokels are preparing to gather en masse in church, either considering themselves immune to the coronavirus because they’re “washed in the blood of Jesus”, or because to them the need to worship (and thereby gain eternal life) outweighs the chance of infection. I guess they think their God would send them to hell if they deigned to worship remotely. Some God! In Florida, the (Republican) governor refuses to prevent church gatherings today (he did warn about social distancing). More on the rest of the U.S. later.
A new multi-authored New York Times investigative piece details the missteps and waffling by Trump and the administration in handling the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. Excerpt:
There were key turning points along the way, opportunities for Mr. Trump to get ahead of the virus rather than just chase it. There were internal debates that presented him with stark choices, and moments when he could have chosen to ask deeper questions and learn more. How he handled them may shape his re-election campaign. They will certainly shape his legacy.
And where the global sports calendar stands can be seen here. Major league baseball—our “national sport”—is merely postponed, but I predict the season will be canceled in toto. (Once again, I hope I’m wrong—if it can be played safely.) Only Wimbledon and the British Open have been formally canceled.
Stuff that happened on April 12 includes:
- 1204 – The Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade breach the walls of Constantinople and enter the city, which they completely occupy the following day.
- 1606 – The Union Flag is adopted as the flag of English and Scottish ships.
Yes, we’re talking about the Union Jack here:
- 1862 – American Civil War: The Andrews Raid (the Great Locomotive Chase) occurs, starting from Big Shanty, Georgia (now Kennesaw).
Have a read about this act of derring-do. It resulted in the award of America’s first Medal of Honor.
- 1937 – Sir Frank Whittle ground-tests the first jet engine designed to power an aircraft, at Rugby, England.
- 1945 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies in office; Vice President Harry S. Truman becomes President upon Roosevelt’s death.
And here’s an appropriate anniversary:
Let us note again that, unlike many modern researchers (and their greedy institutions) who develop innovative and useful medicines or techniques (e.g., CRISPR), Salk gave away his vaccine, refusing to patent it. It’s calculated that that patent would have been worth $7 billion in profits. Here’s Salk affirming that to Edward Murrow:
Salk giving an injection. The man was a fricking hero, but the scientific community didn’t like him much. He never got a Nobel Prize, which he truly deserved, nor was he even elected to the National Academy of Sciences. See this video for some explanations.
- 1961 – Cold War: Space Race: The Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first human to travel into outer space and perform the first manned orbital flight, Vostok 1. [See above]
- 1983 – Harold Washington is elected as the first black mayor of Chicago.
- 1999 – United States President Bill Clinton is cited for contempt of court for giving “intentionally false statements” in a civil lawsuit; he is later fined and disbarred.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1777 – Henry Clay, American lawyer and politician, 9th United States Secretary of State (d. 1852)
- 1883 – Imogen Cunningham, American photographer and educator (d. 1976)
Cunningham, famous for her pictures of plants, of nudes, and for her portraits, was an extremely influential photographer throughout most of the 20th century. Here’s “Three Dancers, Mills College, 1930.”
- 1916 – Benjamin Libet, American neuropsychologist and academic (d. 2007)
- 1932 – Tiny Tim, American singer and ukulele player (d. 1996)
- 1947 – David Letterman, American comedian and talk show host
- 1950 – David Cassidy, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2017)
- 1981 – Tulsi Gabbard, American politician
Those who snuffed it on April 12 include:
- 1945 – Franklin D. Roosevelt, American lawyer and politician, 32nd President of the United States (b. 1882)
- 1981 – Joe Louis, American boxer and wrestler (b. 1914)
- 1988 – Alan Paton, South African historian and author (b. 1903)
- 1989 – Abbie Hoffman, American activist, co-founded Youth International Party (b. 1936)
- 1989 – Sugar Ray Robinson, American boxer (b. 1921)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili still isn’t comfortable with Szaron:
Hili: I will jump down in a moment.A: Don’t do it—you will frighten Szaron.Hili: That’s exactly my intention.
Hili: Zaraz zeskoczę.
Ja: Nie rób tego, bo wystraszysz Szarona.
Hili: Taki właśnie jest mój zamiar.
And nearby, at the site of his future home, Mietek is sad because, although Easter celebrations should be taking place in Poland, Elzbieta and Andrzej II have no guests because of the country’s lockdown.
Mietek: No guests can be seen.
From Merilee: an old-timey solution to a new problem.
From Moto, cartoon from Mr. Fish:
A cat meme from Heather Hastie:
Somebody made a video of one of Titania’s “poems”; this one’s about veganism:
A powerful visual reimagining of my poem “A Vegan’s Lament” by @samjackgilmore.
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) April 10, 2020
From Muffy: what sports commentators do when there are no sports.
— Steve Stewart-Williams (@SteveStuWill) April 10, 2020
From Craig (and tweeted by CNN journalist Jake Tapper): a wonderful Ogden Nash poem about DUCKS:
Behold the duck.
It does not cluck.
A cluck it lacks.
It is specially fond
Of a puddle or pond.
When it dines or sups,
It bottoms ups.
by Ogden Nash#NationalPoetryMonth
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 11, 2020
A tweet for science geeks from Simon, also a science geek. If you’re not one, guess what the issue is here:
There are 2 types of scientists that can be distinguished by their reaction to this video https://t.co/w3aHn20gZA
— Dr Tuesday 🔬🦠 (@tuesdays314) April 10, 2020
A tweet from Heather Hastie: cat magic!
Tweets from Matthew. Spot the stupidity in the first video:
Trump: "Antibiotics used to solve every problem and now one of the biggest problems the world has is the germ has gotten to brilliant that the anti-antibiotic can't keep up with it." pic.twitter.com/FqYKdUEQmZ
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) April 10, 2020
A lamb is born (appropriate for Easter, no?):
This absolutely fascinates me and captivates me when this happen. It’s beautiful and so magical.
This lamb is still in its sack, completely intact. He has no idea he’s been born. He’s just chilling like he is still in womb.
NATURE IS AMAZING.
— Hannah Jackson (@redshepherdess) April 10, 2020
Crikey, Trump chews on his metatarsals again!
That rather depends how you feel about Jesus being tortured, whipped and crucified. https://t.co/aoFLqa5kd5
— Liam MacU (@LiamMacU) April 10, 2020