Good (?) morning on Hump Day: Wednesday, April 29, 2020, about four days from Hatch Day. It’s going to rain today and tomorrow in Chicago, but the weather should improve for the ducklings.
It’s also National Shrimp Scampi Day (more cultural appropriation), International Dance Day, Denim Day (you must read about the origin of this day), International Guide Dog Day, International Noise Awareness Day, and Zipper Day, celebrating the data on which this most useful closure was patented in 1913 by Gideon Sundback.
Today’s Google Doodle is part of the site’s continuing attempt to keep people amused by playing computer games. When you click on the screenshot below, you go to a game, “Fischinger,” in which you can compose your own music:
News of the Day: No worse than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Confirmed coronavirus deaths in the U.S. are currently at 58,964; worldwide they stand at roughly 217,000. But remember, as they say annoyingly and frequently, “we’re all in this together.” Who decided that that mantra was going to cheer us up?
The New York Times has an interesting article today detailing how Sweden has handled the pandemic: no lockdowns, trust in citizens to keep social distance, wash their hands, and so on, and no closing of stores or schools. It has not been a disaster. Excerpts:
While other countries were slamming on the brakes, Sweden kept its borders open, allowed restaurants and bars to keep serving, left preschools and grade schools in session and placed no limits on public transport or outings in local parks. Hairdressers, yoga studios, gyms and even some cinemas have remained open.
Gatherings of more than 50 people are banned. Museums have closed and sporting events have been canceled. At the end of March, the authorities banned visits to nursing homes.
That’s roughly it. There are almost no fines, and police officers can only ask people to oblige. Pedestrians wearing masks are generally stared at as if they have just landed from Mars.
The results? Much better than one would have predicted:
Trust is high in Sweden — in government, institutions and fellow Swedes. When the government defied conventional wisdom and refused to order a wholesale lockdown to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus epidemic, public health officials pointed to trust as a central justification.
Swedes, they said, could be trusted to stay home, follow social distancing protocols and wash their hands to slow the spread of the virus — without any mandatory orders. And, to a large extent, Sweden does seem to have been as successful in controlling the virus as most other nations.
Before you pooh-pooh this because you think that U.S. lockdowns must surely be the right solution, at least read the piece. And I calculated this:
U.S. population size/Sweden population size: about 32.1
U.S. coronavirus deaths/Sweden coronavirus deaths: about 25.0.
I think those figures are correct. Sweden still has more per capita deaths, but the difference is not huge. Of course other countries with lockdowns have even lower death rates than does America, and the U.S. has the huge aggregations of people in places like New York and Chicago.
Stuff that happened on April 29 includes:
- 1429 – Joan of Arc arrives to relieve the Siege of Orléans.
- 1770 – James Cook arrives in Australia at Botany Bay, which he names.
- 1834 – Charles Darwin during the second survey voyage of HMS Beagle, ascended the Bell mountain, Cerro La Campana on 17 August 1834, his visit being commemorated by a memorial plaque.
Here is that mountain, which is 1880 meters tall:
- 1916 – Easter Rising: After six days of fighting, Irish rebel leaders surrender to British forces in Dublin, bringing the Easter Rising to an end.
- 1944 – World War II: British agent Nancy Wake, a leading figure in the French Resistance and the Gestapo’s most wanted person, parachutes back into France to be a liaison between London and the local maquis group.
- 1945 – World War II: Führerbunker: Adolf Hitler marries his longtime partner Eva Braun in a Berlin bunker and designates Admiral Karl Dönitz as his successor; Hitler and Braun both commit suicide the following day.
- 1945 – Dachau concentration camp is liberated by United States troops.
- 1967 – After refusing induction into the United States Army the previous day, Muhammad Ali is stripped of his boxing title.
- 1968 – The controversial musical Hair, a product of the hippie counter-culture and sexual revolution of the 1960s, opens at the Biltmore Theatre on Broadway, with some of its songs becoming anthems of the anti-Vietnam War movement.
Here’s a performance by the revival cast of the musical at the 2009 Tony Awards. This is one of the enduring songs from that musical, along with “Aquarius”. Wikipedia says the songs weren’t well received by the cognosecenti:
The music did not resonate with everyone. Leonard Bernstein remarked “the songs are just laundry lists” and walked out of the production. Richard Rodgers could only hear the beat and called it “one-third music”. John Fogerty said, “Hair is such a watered down version of what is really going on that I can’t get behind it at all.” Gene Lees, writing for High Fidelity, stated that John Lennon found it “dull”, and he wrote, “I do not know any musician who thinks it’s good.”
Ah, the good old hippie days! We thought we’d change the world, and what do we got we got now? TRUMP!
- 1974 – Watergate scandal: United States President Richard Nixon announces the release of edited transcripts of White House tape recordings relating to the scandal.
- 1992 – Riots in Los Angeles, following the acquittal of police officers charged with excessive force in the beating of Rodney King. Over the next three days 63 people are killed and hundreds of buildings are destroyed.
- 2015 – A baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox sets the all-time low attendance mark for Major League Baseball. Zero fans were in attendance for the game, as the stadium was officially closed to the public due to the 2015 Baltimore protests.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1854 – Henri Poincaré, French mathematician, physicist, and engineer (d. 1912)
- 1863 – William Randolph Hearst, American publisher and politician, founded the Hearst Corporation (d. 1951)
- 1893 – Harold Urey, American chemist and astronomer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1981)
- 1899 – Duke Ellington, American pianist, composer, and bandleader (d. 1974)
- 1901 – Hirohito, Japanese emperor (d. 1989)
- 1933 – Willie Nelson, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, and actor
- 1945 – Brian Charlesworth, English biologist, geneticist, and academic
It’s the 75th for my pal, collaborator and ex-chair, now retired (but still working hard) at the University of Edinburgh. Here’s a photo of Brian:
- 1951 – Dale Earnhardt, American race car driver (d. 2001)
- 1954 – Jerry Seinfeld, American comedian, actor, and producer
- 1970 – Andre Agassi, American tennis player
- 1970 – Uma Thurman, American actress
Since it’s the Duke’s birthday, and tomorrow is International Jazz Day, let’s have a video of his band playing his signature song, “Take the A Train.” The main was a fricking genius, and employed some of the best musicians of that era as well as composer and arranger Billy Strayhorn, who wrote this song. (The original release by the “Blanton/Webster” version of his band didn’t have vocals, and is better; listen to it here.)
The man loved his food, and it shows. Brain Pickings has a summary of his diet taken from Terry Teachout’s biography (his dessert is amazing, and the items were combined in one bowl):
Duke, who is always worrying about keeping his weight down, may announce that he intends to have nothing but Shredded Wheat and black tea. . . . Duke’s resolution about not overeating frequently collapses at this point. When it does, he orders a steak, and after finishing it he engages in another moral struggle for about five minutes. Then he really begins to eat. He has another steak, smothered in onions, a double portion of fried potatoes, a salad, a bowl of sliced tomatoes, a giant lobster and melted butter, coffee, and an Ellington dessert — perhaps a combination of pie, cake, ice cream, custard, pastry, jello, fruit, and cheese. His appetite really whetted, he may order ham and eggs, a half-dozen pancakes, waffles and syrup, and some hot biscuits. Then, determined to get back on his diet, he will finish, as he began, with Shredded Wheat and black tea.
Those who croaked on April 29 include:
- 1951 – Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian-English philosopher and academic (b. 1889)
- 1980 – Alfred Hitchcock, English-American director and producer (b. 1899).
Matthew sent a tweet honoring the laconic director:
Alfred Hitchcock was given a front-page obituary and is still remembered as one of the greatest film directors of all time. pic.twitter.com/UGcRs4B1jb
— Manu (@manuthebest58) April 29, 2020
- 1997 – Mike Royko, American journalist and author (b. 1932)
- 2008 – Albert Hofmann, Swiss chemist and academic (b. 1906)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Szaron is trying to cadge food from Hili:
Szaron: Share with me.Hili: You had exactly the same in your bowl.Szaron: Yes, but I’m growing and you are already too big.
Szaron: Podziel się.
Hili: Miałeś dokładnie to samo w twojej misce.
Szaron: Tak, ale ja rosnę, a ty już jesteś zbyt duża.
Here’s another a picture of Szaron:
. . . and of the Vistula river that abuts the property of Hili, Andrzej, and Malgorzata. After you walk through the cherry orchard, you come to a cliff that runs down to this view:
In nearby Wloclawek, Leon and Mitek are in charge.
The cats: We’re taking over!
In Polish: Przejmujemy kontrolę
From Bad Cat Clothing:
I guess it’s All Cats Day. This is from Jesus of the Day:
Fricking Pence! He went to the Mayo Clinic to visit the staff and patients and learn about antibody testing, was told that everyone had to wear a mask, and he didn’t, even though he was informed well in advance. He stood right beside a coronavirus patient unmasked! What point is the dumbass VP trying to make?
For some reason the Mayo Clinic took down this tweet (I suspect Trumpites were beserk), but Matthew had a screenshot:
PENCE flouts Mayo Clinic policy that everyone on campus wear a mask, even as he meets with staff and a patient. pic.twitter.com/kfo64KQDhU
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) April 28, 2020
From Simon: Randy Rainbow sings about drinking Clorox:
— Randy Rainbow (@RandyRainbow) April 25, 2020
A tweet from Heather Hastie via Ann German. Nobody hates Trump like Ricky Gervais!
The fact that there are warnings like "Do not drink" on bottles of bleach makes me realise that Donald Trump can become president.
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) March 6, 2016
Tweets from Matthew. First: why the planets don’t really orbit the Sun. Good luck figuring this mess out! Matthew says the explanation is in the thread, but if you need to do that, you shouldn’t be tweeting. Tweets should be self-contained!
It's fair to say planets orbit the Sun, but that's not 100% true. The Sun holds 99.8% of the Solar System's mass, Jupiter contains most of what's left (Saturn a distant 2nd), and in this vid you'll see how Jupiter plays tug of war with the Sun. Everything orbits a center of mass! pic.twitter.com/MeLgvrxaTm
— James O'Donoghue (@physicsJ) April 28, 2020
Any idea what this burrowing owl is doing with the antenna?
This is just mean and unfair!
I'm fantasy shopping on my local cat shelter's website and entertaining myself my ranking their moods from murderous to disappointed.
Definitely going to fuck you up pic.twitter.com/MchGp5BJGI
— Dr Addy Lowe (@adriana_lowe) April 28, 2020