Posting will probably be light until tomorrow as duck-tending duties have taken an onerous (but not bad) turn; I will explain in the next post. First, Hili:
Good morning on Thursday, May 21, 2020: National Strawberries and Cream Day. (It’s been a bit too chilly for strawberries to appear this early.) It’s also National Apéritif Day, Hummus Day, National Waiters and Waitresses Day, World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, and Rapture Party Day, based on Harold Camping’s Christian Family Network radio prediction that the Rapture would begin about 6 pm on May 21, 2011. Needless to say, it didn’t pan out, though many of Camping’s followers sold their possessions and quit their jobs.
Today’s Google Doodle goes to an animation/game about the mbira, the national instrument of Zimbabwe. Click on the screenshot to play.
News of the Day: The New York Times reports that delays in implementing lockdowns in the U.S. cost at least 36,000 lives; this figure is based on models whose validity I can’t assess. That’s over a third of the reported deaths due to the virus in the U.S., which now stands at 93,806. The figure for the world is about 328,000.
Stuff that happened on May 21:
- 1758 – Ten-year-old Mary Campbell is abducted in Pennsylvania by Lenape during the French and Indian War. She is returned six and a half years later.
- 1871 – French troops invade the Paris Commune and engage its residents in street fighting. By the close of “Bloody Week”, some 20,000 communards have been killed and 38,000 arrested.
- 1881 – The American Red Cross is established by Clara Barton in Washington, D.C.
- 1924 – University of Chicago students Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, Jr. murder 14-year-old Bobby Franks in a “thrill killing“.
The Leopold/Loeb kidnapping and killing was huge news in the U.S., as it involved two really smart students who killed someone just to see if they could get away with it. They almost did, but Loeb left his glasses where the body was dumped, and, the hinges of the spectacles being very rare, he was tracked down. Both men confessed and pleaded guilty, but their lawyer, Clarence Darrow, made his most famous courtroom speech, 12 hours long, trying to save them from the death penalty (the reasons were partly based on determinism). They both got life, but Loeb was killed in prison in 1936. Leopold was released in 1958, moved to Puerto Rico, and died of a heart attack in 1971. Here are both men with Darrow:
- 1927 – Charles Lindbergh touches down at Le Bourget Field in Paris, completing the world’s first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean.
- 1936 – Sada Abe is arrested after wandering the streets of Tokyo for days with her dead lover’s severed genitals in her handbag. Her story soon becomes one of Japan’s most notorious scandals.
This is the basis of the 1976 movie In the Realm of the Senses, which I thought was very good (note: there’s explicit sex). This is Abe after her arrest; she was sentenced to six years in prison but served only four.
- 1946 – Physicist Louis Slotin is fatally irradiated in a criticality incident during an experiment with the demon core at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
- 1972 – Michelangelo’s Pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome is damaged by a vandal, the mentally disturbed Hungarian geologist Laszlo Toth.
- 1991 – Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is assassinated by a female suicide bomber near Madras.
- 1992 – After 30 seasons Johnny Carson hosted his penultimate episode and last featuring guests (Robin Williams and Bette Midler) of The Tonight Show. Here’s the very last show:
- 2011 – Radio broadcaster Harold Camping predicted that the world would end on this date.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1471 – Albrecht Dürer, German painter, engraver, and mathematician (d. 1528)
- 1799 – Mary Anning, English paleontologist (d. 1847)
- 1843 – Louis Renault, French jurist, educator, and Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1918)
- 1921 – Andrei Sakharov, Russian physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1989)
- 1936 – Günter Blobel, Polish-American biologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2018)
- 1951 – Al Franken, American actor, screenwriter, and politician
- 1972 – The Notorious B.I.G., American rapper (d. 1997)
Those who expired on May 21 include:
- 1771 – Christopher Smart, English actor, playwright, and poet (b. 1722)
While confined in a lunatic asylum, Smart wrote the best poem about cats ever, a fragment of his longer poem jubilate Agno. The fragment is called “For I will consider my cat Jeoffrey”, and you can find it here:
- 1935 – Jane Addams, American activist and author, co-founded Hull House, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1860)
- 1935 – Hugo de Vries, Dutch botanist and geneticist (b. 1848)
- 2000 – John Gielgud, English actor (b. 1904)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili reproves Andrzej:
Hili: A pillow used to be here.A: I’ve taken it away.Hili: That was wrong.
Hili: Kiedyś tu była jeszcze poduszka.
Ja: Zabrałem ją.
A meme from Merilee:
From Jesus of the Day:
And more scatological humor, posted by John Faithful Hamer:
Titania on the pandemic:
All this focus on the high mortality rate among men is a distraction from the REAL victims of Covid-19: anxious middle-class women in roll neck knitwear. pic.twitter.com/uTqGZktXkN
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) May 20, 2020
From Barry. What a lucky guy! But I think a peregrine needs more than that!
"I found this falcon is nesting in my plant box so I started feeding her 😮😮" pic.twitter.com/I28dmIK7HE
— I’m Tayyaba Waqas💞 (@TayyabaWaqas94) May 18, 2020
Tweets from Matthew. First, a grumpy local building:
Even Sears Tower is 100% fucking DONE with this 2020 bullshit pic.twitter.com/FARm2AjhXV
— Christine Hennesy (@RoyalRedBears) May 20, 2020
We have to have a baby duck tweet, right?
— caenhillcc (@caenhillcc) May 20, 2020
A great diagram of the coronavirus from Eric Topol:
— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) May 20, 2020
Well, the sight made Darwin sick because he didn’t fully understand at the time why males had such ornaments (he later hit on sexual selection):
"The sight of a peacock's tale, whenever I gaze at it, makes me sick" – Darwin (1860)
– I can't help but think about this quote whenever I see a peacock do it's thing~ https://t.co/f4ttQzPnUH
— Robin Nelson (@robingnelson) May 20, 2020
If I posted this before (I can’t quite remember), well, here it is again:
Amelia Earhart writing to the NYT publisher in 1932 requesting that the paper stop referring to her as her wife’s husband and start calling her by her name. (She won.) Unearthed by @nytimesarts pic.twitter.com/055owRMINh
— Sam Dolnick (@samdolnick) May 17, 2020
More wild pigs roaming amok during the pandemic, this time in Poland:
Olsztyn, Centrum 😳🐗 pic.twitter.com/dxL5XmMO10
— Konrad Bukowiecki (@k_bukowiecki) May 15, 2020