Good morning to you on Hump Day: Wednesdy, May 13, 2020, and a triple food holiday: National Apple Pie Day, National Fruit Cocktail Day and International Hummus Day. Take your pick: two are appropriate-to-eat foods for Americans (from “our culture”) and but eating hummus is the worst sort of cultural appropriation. It’s also World Cocktail Day, Tulip Day, National Frog Jumping Day (in honor of Mark Twain’s story), and, bizarrely, National Root Canal Appreciation Day.
Posting may be light for a while as I have to monitor for the appearance of the great blue heron who seems to have discovered Botany Pond and its ducklings. That means less time to write (and none to shop for food). I will do my best.
News of the Day: Worse than yesterday. Have a look at the New York Times article, “Top health officials paint bleak picture of the pandemic.” Fauci is emphasizing the dangers of premature reopening of economies, but many states are doing it anyway, and Trump isn’t exactly discouraging them. California State University, the system of colleges which is America’s largest with 23 campuses, has announced that “real” classes will not convene this fall; all instruction will be virtual. Other colleges will surely follow, and that’s the end of university instruction until next year. Colleges try to put a good face on it, but that’s lipstick on a pig.
Finally, confirmed coronavirus deaths in the U.S. now stand at 83,082 (we’ll surely surpass 100,000), and the world toll is about 292,000.
Stuff that happened on May 13 includes:
- 1830 – Ecuador gains its independence from Gran Colombia.
- 1846 – Mexican–American War: The United States declares war on the Federal Republic of Mexico following a dispute over the American annexation of the Republic of Texas and a Mexican military incursion.
- 1880 – In Menlo Park, New Jersey, Thomas Edison performs the first test of his electric railway.
- 1917 – Three children report the first apparition of Our Lady of Fátima in Fátima, Portugal.
Here are the children, with the Wikipedia caption: “Lúcia dos Santos (left) with her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, 1917″. The Marto children were both dead by 1920 from the influenza epidemic, but dos Santos lived as a nun until 2005, when she was 97.
- 1958 – Ben Carlin becomes the first (and only) person to circumnavigate the world by amphibious vehicle, having travelled over 17,000 kilometres (11,000 mi) by sea and 62,000 kilometres (39,000 mi) by land during a ten-year journey.
- 1985 – Police bombed MOVE headquarters in Philadelphia to end a stand-off, killing six adults and five children, and destroying the homes of 250 city residents.
- 1989 – Large groups of students occupy Tiananmen Square and begin a hunger strike.
- 1995 – Alison Hargreaves, a 33-year-old British mother, becomes the first woman to conquer Everest without oxygen or the help of sherpas.
Here’s Hargreaves descending after her successful climb of Everest. Exactly 3 months later, she died on the descent after summiting K2.
- Notables born on this day include:
- 1221 – Alexander Nevsky, Russian prince and saint (d. 1263)
- 1842 – Arthur Sullivan, English composer (d. 1900)
- 1882 – Georges Braque, French painter and sculptor (d. 1963)
Here’s Braque and his cat. It strikes me that artists seem to have a penchant for Siamese cats.
- 1931 – Jim Jones, American cult leader, founder of the Peoples Temple (d. 1978)
- 1940 – Bruce Chatwin, English author (d. 1989)
- 1950 – Manning Marable, American author and academic (d. 2011)
- 1950 – Stevie Wonder, American singer-songwriter, pianist, and producer
- 1951 – Herman Philipse, Dutch philosopher and academic
If you want a good critique of religion’s pretentions of being a “way of knowing,” read Philipse’s God in the Age of Science?: A Critique of Religious Reason. It’s long but it’s well worth it.
- 1961 – Dennis Rodman, American basketball player, wrestler, and actor
Those who began playing the harp on May 13 include:
- 1832 – Georges Cuvier, French zoologist and academic (b. 1769)
- 1884 – Cyrus McCormick, American businessman, co-founded the International Harvester Company (b. 1809)
- 1930 – Fridtjof Nansen, Norwegian scientist, explorer, and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1861)
Nansen, a famous polar explorer, also won the Nobel Peace Prize, and, as you can see from the photo below, was extraordinarily handsome. To me, that picture looks like a fierce Viking.
In the final decade of his life, Nansen devoted himself primarily to the League of Nations, following his appointment in 1921 as the League’s High Commissioner for Refugees. In 1922 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on behalf of the displaced victims of the First World War and related conflicts.
- 1961 – Gary Cooper, American actor (b. 1901)
- 1975 – Bob Wills, American singer-songwriter and actor (b. 1905)
- 2018 – Margot Kidder, Canadian-American actress (b. 1948)
- 2019 – Doris Day, American singer and actress (b. 1922)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has an adventure inspecting the blooming cherry trees, but her jaunt ends predictably:
Hili: We have to inspect other trees as well.A: Right.Hili: And then we will go back home and have something to eat.
Hili: Musimy jeszcze obejrzeć inne drzewa.
Hili: A potem wrócimy do domu i coś zjemy.
An SMBC strip on free will by Zach Weinersmith. If you go to the original site and hover over the strip with your mouse, you’ll get a secret (and appropriate) message. (h/t: Rick):
From James, a timely cartoon:
Titania is on the side of the American Civil Liberties Union with respect to her views on athletics:
Now that we have irrefutable evidence that women are physically stronger than men, surely it’s time to abandon gender segregation in sports.
What’s the matter, men? Too afraid to compete with us? 🐔 pic.twitter.com/g4l9ILOr6d
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) May 12, 2020
From cesar: A baby Trump talks about the coronavirus:
— Yogesh (@iFutureTek) May 12, 2020
From Simon, who loves Sarah Cooper’s lip-synching to Trump:
— Sarah Cooper (@sarahcpr) May 12, 2020
From Heather Hastie. Banksy is back with a tribute to NHS nurses.
— nobarkingart (@nobarkingart) May 6, 2020
Tweets from Matthew. What a display of excitement and interspecies love below! Does this d*g love the pig, or does it just smell ham?
This dog goes wild every time his pig best friend comes over! pic.twitter.com/xfubnjaxwk
— The Dodo (@dodo) May 11, 2020
An alpaca is born! It looks quite difficult, what with the mother heaving and the baby snorting.
Ashling chose to birth laid down (she always does) but most alpacas birth standing. pic.twitter.com/lnwkYYnoEQ
— Farmers Of The UK (@FarmersOfTheUK) May 11, 2020
This is Harry, Matthew’s newest cat, and also the “fluffiest” one:
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) May 11, 2020
Matthew was on Michael Shermer’s podcast talking about his new book and related matters. It’s 1 hour and 40 minutes, and I can’t wait to hear what Matthew says about free will and panpsychism. The link to the show is in the tweet. And, Michael asked me to pose the first question to Matthew (it’s about panpsychism).
Science Salon #115
The Idea of the Brain:
—hard problem of consciousness
—free will & determinism
—why neurons are not digital & why the brain is not like a computerhttps://t.co/pP0Zv6NcIT pic.twitter.com/trEouVxqsa
— Michael Shermer (@michaelshermer) May 12, 2020
The Fraser Illusion: the lines in each pair are parallel.
a demo of the Fraser illusion pic.twitter.com/TzTupJVT3a
— Akiyoshi Kitaoka (@AkiyoshiKitaoka) May 12, 2020