Good morning, and I hope it’s “good” for at least some of you on this Monday, April 20, 2020. It’s National Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Day, a cake I truly love (my mom used to make it) and haven’t had for years. It’s also National Cheddar Fries Day, Lima Bean Respect Day (I refuse to respect such malodorous and inedible legumes), UN Chinese Language Day, and National Look Alike Day. We had a good example in the Photos of Readers post yesterday. I used to resemble Cat Stevens when I was young and had long black hair, and was mistaken for him more than once. Who do you look like?
Today’s Google Doodle again takes up the pandemic, going to a site giving advice on how to protect yourself and others from the pandemic (click on screenshot, but we all know this advice). And it shows a number of stay-at-home things you can do—all of which we already know about, too. Is there anyone who doesn’t know to wash your hands frequently and how to do it?
News of the day: Depressing as usual. Deaths from coronavirus in the U.S. have passed 40,000: as of this writing they are 41,414. The world total is 165,257. Here’s an article giving one man’s take on what it will take to re-open America, which includes reducing our social contacts by 65% and wearing masks in public—for months. I’m beginning to wonder if schools and colleges will re-open in the fall.
Bad news from Canada, a country not known for mass gun murders. A “denturist” (is that a person who makes dentures), went on a 12-hour rampage in Nova Scotia, killing at least 16 people. He later died in police custody, though what happened there is unclear. The killer, one Gabriel Wortman, had disguised himself to look like a policeman, and apparently also disguised his car. My sympathies to the relatives and friends of the 16, and to Canadians who must be shocked at what seems to be the worst mass murder in Canadian history. (They say “modern” Canadian history, but was there a murder long ago that exceeded this death toll?)
And adventurer/photograph/writer Peter Beard died yesterday at 82.
Taking my recycling down to recycling-bin room this morning, I found evidence that my fellow residents have been hitting the booze pretty hard during the pandemic (I’ve never seen so many alcohol containers). Seriously, though: a gallon of Carlo Rossi cabernet?
Stuff that happened on April 20 includes:
- 1534 – Jacques Cartier begins his first voyage to what is today the east coast of Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador.
- 1535 – The sun dog phenomenon is observed over Stockholm, as later depicted in the famous painting Vädersolstavlan.
According to Wikipedia, this painting (named “the sun painting” in Swedish) is “the oldest depiction of Stockholm in colour, [and] is arguably also the oldest Swedish landscape painting and the oldest depiction of sun dogs.” The original painting has not survived, but below is a copy made by Jacob Elbfas in 1636:
- 1657 – Freedom of religion is granted to the Jews of New Amsterdam (later New York City).
- 1775 – American Revolutionary War: The Siege of Boston begins, following the battles at Lexington and Concord.
- 1828 – René Caillié becomes the second non-Muslim to enter (and the first to return from) Timbuktu, following Major Gordon Laing
- 1861 – American Civil War: Robert E. Lee resigns his commission in the United States Army in order to command the forces of the state of Virginia.
- 1862 – Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard complete the experiment disproving the theory of spontaneous generation.
- 1898 – U.S. President William McKinley signed a joint resolution to Congress for declaration of War against Spain, beginning the Spanish–American War.[
- 1902 – Pierre and Marie Curie refine radium chloride.
Here are the Curies in their lab. Marie Curie was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, and the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two different areas of science (can you name them?). She died of aplastic anemia, almost certainly caused by her protracted and unprotected exposure to radiation. (Pierre was run over by a horse cart and died from a crushed skull.) Wikipedia says this:
Because of their levels of radioactive contamination, her papers from the 1890s are considered too dangerous to handle. Even her cookbook is highly radioactive. Her papers are kept in lead-lined boxes, and those who wish to consult them must wear protective clothing. In her last year, she worked on a book, Radioactivity, which was published posthumously in 1935.
- 1916 – The Chicago Cubs play their first game at Weeghman Park (currently Wrigley Field), defeating the Cincinnati Reds 7–6 in 11 innings.
- 1918 – Manfred von Richthofen, a.k.a. The Red Baron, shoots down his 79th and 80th victims, his final victories before his death the following day.
- 1945 – World War II: Führerbunker: On his 56th birthday Adolf Hitler makes his last trip to the surface to award Iron Crosses to boy soldiers of the Hitler Youth.
- 1968 – English politician Enoch Powell makes his controversial “Rivers of Blood” speech.
- 1999 – Columbine High School massacre: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 people and injured 24 others before committing suicide at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado.
- 2008 – Danica Patrick wins the Indy Japan 300 becoming the first female driver in history to win an Indy car race..
Here’s Patrick’s victory:
- 2010 – The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explodes in the Gulf of Mexico, killing eleven workers and beginning an oil spill that would last six months.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1840 – Odilon Redon, French painter and illustrator (d. 1916)
From Fine Art America, here is a Redon painting, “Study Of Papillions, Cats, Flowers And Woman, 1910-1914”.
- 1850 – Daniel Chester French, American sculptor, designed the Lincoln statue (d. 1931)
- 1889 – Adolf Hitler, Austrian born German politician, Führer of Nazi Germany (d. 1945)
- 1893 – Joan Miró, Spanish painter and sculptor (d. 1983)
- 1913 – Willi Hennig, German biologist and entomologist (d. 1976)
- 1920 – John Paul Stevens, American lawyer and jurist, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (d. 2019)
Those who began total necrosis on April 20 include:
- 1769 – Chief Pontiac, American tribal leader (b. 1720)
- 1912 – Bram Stoker, Anglo-Irish novelist and critic, created Count Dracula (b. 1847)
- 1982 – Archibald MacLeish, American poet, playwright, and lawyer (b. 1892)
- 1992 – Benny Hill, English comedian, actor, and screenwriter (b. 1924).
Hill was a weird bloke; Wikipedia notes this about him:
Hill never owned his own home in London, and instead preferred to rent a flat rather than buy one. He rented a double-room apartment in the London district Queen’s Gate for 26 years until around 1986 when he moved to Fairwater House in Teddington. While looking for somewhere to live, he stayed at 22 Westrow Gardens in Southampton. He also never owned a car, although he could drive.
Despite being a millionaire many times over, he continued with the frugal habits that he picked up from his parents, notably his father, such as buying cheap food at supermarkets, walking for miles rather than paying for a taxi unless someone picked up the tab for a limousine, and constantly patching and mending the same clothes even when the balance on his account at the Halifax Building Society reached seven figures.
Here’s Hill’s grave at Hollybrook Cemetery, Southampton:
Others who died include the two Columbine murderers and their 13 victims:
- 1999 – Casualties of the Columbine High School massacre
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has (despite her pulchritude) climbed up onto the roof of the veranda:
A: What are you doing up there?Hili: I’m checking to see what the world looks like.
Ja: Co tam robisz?
Hili: Sprawdzam jak wygląda świat.
Here’s the benighted Republican governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis trying to put on a mask (h/t Woody)
A meme from Nicole:
Or this one:
Today’s tweets all come from Dr. Cobb (nobody else sent me any!) But, as usual, they’re good.
First, quarantine sculpture. Though it’s pretty, the replies show why you should NOT do this:
This is incredible people on their daily walk have been making pebble tower sculptures on the beach @ourwhitleybay which started as 1 or 2 has turned into 100,s #weather @ChronicleLive @PA pic.twitter.com/OoELUjkuzu
— Owen Humphreys (@owenhumphreys1) April 19, 2020
This is an old American tradition to get fishin’ worms. I believe it’s called “worm grunting”. This article tells you why it works.
So worm charmers do exist. I knew it. pic.twitter.com/F0oIT6TagG
— Raymond (@raubrey) April 19, 2020
Finally went past this splendid hedge today, looking neater than most lockdown haircuts. More magnificent than the carp one I’ve posted before, though that remains my favourite pic.twitter.com/UkJS6J8VED
— Rebekah Higgitt (@beckyfh) April 18, 2020
These beetles are impervious to the trap-jaw ants, whose snapping simply propels the ants backwards:
Trap-jaw ants might seem like ferocious, well-equipped predators. But just ask the next hard-bodied beetle what it thinks of their jaw snaps. Meh. pic.twitter.com/EuWMNHq2T1
— Adrian Smith (@DrAdrianSmith) April 17, 2020
Matthew now has copies of the American edition of his next book. And with them is Ollie, the nefarious cat who bit through my nose:
Ollie next to copies of the US edition. pic.twitter.com/vUOArI4qno
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) April 16, 2020
Yep, that’s the Terminator’s donkey (Lulu) and miniature horse (Whiskey):
You keep asking for more Whiskey and Lulu. Today I watched them chase each other for 3 full minutes after their bath. It was a fantastic break, so I hope this is your moment of zen for today too. pic.twitter.com/kBl6JB4gH4
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) April 15, 2020
A chain catshark enters the world:
— Andrew Gillis (@GillisLab) April 12, 2020