Welcome to Hump Day: Wednesday, May 20, 2020, both National Quiche Lorraine Day and National Pick Strawberries Day. It’s also Flower Day, World Bee Day, World Metrology Day (not Meteorology Day),and, appropriately, International Clinical Trials Day. There is promising news of a coronavirus vaccine, but the sample size is tiny (eight, I believe), so we have a long way to go.
Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the short but inspiring life of Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo’ole, who was born on this day in 1959 and died in 1997. If you click on the screenshot below, you go to a Google YouTube animation of his life accompanied by his famous (and moving) song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World”.
The song was done in one take; as Wikipedia reports:
Kamakawiwoʻole called the recording studio at 3 am. He was given 15 minutes to arrive by Milan Bertosa. Bertosa said, “And in walks the largest human being I had seen in my life. Israel was probably like 500 pounds. And the first thing at hand is to find something for him to sit on.” A security guard gave Kamakawiwoʻole a large steel chair. “Then I put up some microphones, do a quick sound check, roll tape, and the first thing he does is ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’ He played and sang, one take, and it was over.”
News of the Day: Moderately depressing but with some good spots. “President” Trump is doubling down on his taking hydroxychloroquine, saying (in two big lies) that a gazillion medical workers are taking it as a preventive because it’s been shown to work. On the other hand, this has been good for the sale of the moribund Hydrox cookie, an alternative to Oreos (h/t cesar). Good news: Captain Tom Moore was awarded a knighthood for raising millions of pounds for the National Health Service. He will now be Captain Sir Tom (or is it Sir Captain Tom?).
According to the New York Times, many colleges are planning to re-open by the fall, but with a short first semester that gets students home by Thanksgiving, not to return until after Christmas. That wouldn’t work well for the University of Chicago, as with our quarter system we don’t begin classes until the beginning of October, giving a quarter of less than eight weeks (it’s usually ten or more).
Reported deaths from coronavirus now stand at 92,258 in the U.S. and about 323,000 in the world.
Moaning of the day: Yesterday’s HuffPost “Personals” section, describing the travails of those quarantined:
Stuff that happened on May 20 includes:
- 325 – The First Council of Nicaea is formally opened, starting the first ecumenical council of the Christian Church.
- 1497 – John Cabot sets sail from Bristol, England, on his ship Matthew looking for a route to the west (other documents give a May 2 date).
- 1498 – Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama discovers the sea route to India when he arrives at Kozhikode (previously known as Calicut), India.
- 1570 – Cartographer Abraham Ortelius issues Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, the first modern atlas
Here’s the world map from that Atlas. Not bad for those days, eh? The shape of South America is a bit off, though:
- 1609 – Shakespeare’s sonnets are first published in London, perhaps illicitly, by the publisher Thomas Thorpe.
And here’s the front page of that publication. Even if it was an illicit publication, what treasures lay within!
Here’s an old pair of Levis dug up in Nevada, and dated to the 1880s—perhaps the oldest existing pair of Levis. SFGate says it was expected to bring $35,000 at auction:
- 1875 – Signing of the Metre Convention by 17 nations leading to the establishment of the International System of Units.
- 1883 – Krakatoa begins to erupt; the volcano explodes three months later, killing more than 36,000 people.
- 1932 – Amelia Earhart takes off from Newfoundland to begin the world’s first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean by a female pilot, landing in Ireland the next day.
From History, a photo of Earhart’s landing in Ireland:
- 1940 – The Holocaust: The first prisoners arrive at a new concentration camp at Auschwitz.
- 1956 – In Operation Redwing, the first United States airborne hydrogen bomb is dropped over Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.
- 1983 – First publications of the discovery of the HIV virus that causes AIDS in the journal Science by Luc Montagnier.
- 1996 – Civil rights: The Supreme Court of the United States rules in Romer v. Evans against a law that would have prevented any city, town or county in the state of Colorado from taking any legislative, executive, or judicial action to protect the rights of gays and lesbians.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1772 – Sir William Congreve, 2nd Baronet, English inventor and politician, developed Congreve rockets (d. 1828)
- 1806 – John Stuart Mill, English economist, civil servant, and philosopher (d. 1873)
- 1908 – James Stewart, American actor (d. 1997)
- 1918 – Edward B. Lewis, American biologist, geneticist, and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2004)
- 1944 – Joe Cocker, English singer-songwriter (d. 2014)
- 1946 – Cher, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actress
- 1958 – Ron Reagan, American journalist and radio host
Those who found eternal rest on May 20 include:
- 1506 – Christopher Columbus, Italian explorer, discovered the Americas (b. 1451)
- 1896 – Clara Schumann, German pianist and composer (b. 1819)
- 1989 – Gilda Radner, American actress and comedian (b. 1946)
- 2002 – Stephen Jay Gould, American paleontologist, biologist, and academic (b. 1941)
- 2013 – Ray Manzarek, American singer-songwriter, keyboard player, and producer (b. 1939)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron have not yet become friends but Hili’s leaving the door open:
Szaron: Can we become friends?Hili: Theoretically, it’s possible.
Szaron: Czy możemy się zaprzyjaźnić?
Hili: Teoretycznie to jest możliwe.
From Jesus of the Day:
Posted by Gregory James. People are thinking this woman is an insane Trump-ite, but I’m pretty sure this is a joke, telling people of the folly of their “let us out” arguments. What say you?
Also from Jesus of the Day:
From Titania. I don’t find the UN’s suggestions objectionable, but I find Titania’s pretty funny:
This doesn’t go far enough. ALL words should be gender-neutral.
Please take note and modify your language accordingly:
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) May 19, 2020
A tweet from Tyler and Gregoray. Sign up that cat for Real Madrid!
Knew naming him Meownuel Neuer was a mistake pic.twitter.com/w3MrwH5Opn
— Chris Dixon (@chrismd10) May 18, 2020
Tweets from Dr. Cobb. Cat wants only ONE towel under it!
The top three towels did not spark joy, and must be unceremoniously discarded. pic.twitter.com/1FdGzEaHRB
— Dick King-Smith HQ (@DickKingSmith) May 19, 2020
I will clearly have to read this paper and then write about quolls:
This study is great, I'm writing about it now. In northern #quolls which reproduce suicidally (the males die from their frenzied mating efforts), all eight babies in a pouch can have different fathers.
It also explains how we get both colours of eastern #quoll in the same litter. https://t.co/NgX92PhCg4
— Jack Ashby (@JackDAshby) May 9, 2020
Sarah Cooper takes on Trump’s latest folly: taking hydroxychloroquine. Note how he insists that it works as a preventive, despite what all the data say:
How to hydroxychloroquine pic.twitter.com/yMObDCFGXS
— Sarah Cooper (@sarahcpr) May 19, 2020
Another paper I must read and write about. How bird wings are related to dispersal ability. And there’s a big difference between birds in the tropics and the temperate zone:
Some birds fly around the world over the course of a year, while others never leave the tiny islands they were born on.
A thread about bird wings!
— Catherine Sheard (@sheardcat) May 18, 2020
Wild pigs run amok in the streets of Berlin! I love it!
— Felix Hackenbruch (@FHackenbruch) May 17, 2020
Finally, this tweet shows the underwater swimming behavior of mallard ducklings. Mine do it too, but tend to do it, like these, all at the same time. They’re not foraging but swimming fast horizontally, and I suspect it’s an antipredator behavior, like the famous video of the duckling escaping a tiger.
Some high quality duckling action from yesterday's walk to Gorse Covert Mounds and Pestfurlong Hill pic.twitter.com/Kj00oa6oqe
— Ian Atkin 🇪🇺 (@ianatkin) May 3, 2020