Good morning on Sunday, June 14, 2020, National Strawberry Shortcake Day (in New England, it’s made with biscuits, not cake). It’s also National Bourbon Day, Race Unity Day, Flag Day, (celebrating the adoption of the U.S. flag by the Continental Congress on this day in 1777), and World Blood Donor Day.
News of the Day: There’s trouble in Atlanta after police shot and killed a black man who grabbed a cop’s taser. There have been protests and arson, and the city’s police chief has resigned. And there’s been a new outbreak of coronavirus in China, with 57 infected after visiting a fruit and vegetable market. All in all, there’s not much hope except the incessant and annoying mantra “We’re all in this together.” Well, if there were a hell, that’s what the denizens would scream to each other as they were licked by flames.
Yesterday was very chilly for this time of year, and I was cold outside in my aloha shirt (no, I am not a “boogaloo boy”!). To feed the ducks in the chill, I put on the only spare clothing I had in my office: an academic gown (don’t ask me how I got it; I have no idea). So here is the crazed Professor Duck properly garbed for feeding waterfowl. It was, by coincidence, Virtual Convocation Day at the University of Chicago, and although the ceremonies were broadcast on the internet, many students wore caps and gowns and were photographed on campus.
Stuff that happened on June 14 includes this:
- 1775 – American Revolutionary War: the Continental Army is established by the Continental Congress, marking the birth of the United States Army.
- 1777 – The Stars and Stripes is adopted by Congress as the Flag of the United States. Here’s the flag; the claim designer is Francis Hopkinson of New Jersey. It has thirteen stars, six red stripes, and seven white stripes.
- 1789 – Mutiny on the Bounty: HMS Bounty mutiny survivors including Captain William Bligh and 18 others reach Timor after a nearly 7,400 km (4,600 mi) journey in an open boat.
Bligh’s journey is in green. According to Wikipedia, “the voyage prior to mutiny is red, voyage of Bounty after mutiny is yellow, voyage of Bligh and others in the longboat is green. Five labeled small islands enlarged for visibility (not to scale). Other details:
Thus, Bligh undertook the seemingly impossible 3,618-nautical-mile (6,701 km; 4,164 mi) voyage to Timor, the nearest European settlement. Bligh succeeded in reaching Timor after a 47-day voyage, the only casualty being the crewman killed on Tofua. From 4 May until 29 May, when they reached the Great Barrier Reef north of Australia, the 18 men lived on 1⁄12 pound (40 grams) of bread per day. The weather was often stormy, and they were in constant fear of foundering due to the boat’s heavily laden condition. On 29 May they landed on a small island off the coast of Australia, which they named Restoration Island, 29 May 1660 being the date of the restoration of the English monarchy after the English Civil War. Over the next week or more they island-hopped north along the Great Barrier reef—while Bligh, cartographer as always, sketched maps of the coast. Early in June they passed through the Endeavour Strait and sailed again on the open sea until they reached Coupang, a settlement on Timor, on 14 June 1789. Several of the men who survived this arduous voyage with him were so weak that they soon died of sickness, possibly malaria, in the pestilential Dutch East Indies port of Batavia, the present-day Indonesian capital of Jakarta, as they waited for transport to Britain.
A replica of Babbage’s engine: “The London Science Museum‘s difference engine, the first one actually built from Babbage’s design. The design has the same precision on all columns, but when calculating polynomials, the precision on the higher-order columns could be lower.”
- 1900 – Hawaii becomes a United States territory.
- 1919 – John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown depart from St. John’s, Newfoundland on the first nonstop transatlantic flight.
- 1937 – U.S. House of Representatives passes the Marihuana Tax Act.
- 1940 – World War II: The German occupation of Paris begins.
- 1940 – Seven hundred twenty-eight Polish political prisoners from Tarnów become the first inmates of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
- 1949 – Albert II, a rhesus monkey, rides a V-2 rocket to an altitude of 134 km (83 mi), thereby becoming the first monkey in space.
This was not the first monkey in space, as Albert II was preceded by Albert the First, who suffocated during the flight. But the first Albert didn’t reach 100 km high, the conventional demarcation of “space”.
- 1954 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs a bill into law that places the words “under God” into the United States Pledge of Allegiance.
- 1966 – The Vatican announces the abolition of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (“index of prohibited books”), which was originally instituted in 1557.
- 1982 – Falklands War: Argentine forces in the capital Stanley conditionally surrender to British forces.
Notables born on this day include:
Stowe of course wrote the famous novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) about the dire conditions of slaves; it was the second best-selling book of the 19th century, after the Bible. And it exacerbated abolitionist sentiment, fueling animus toward the slave-holding South and contributing to the conditions that began the Civil War. A first edition, first printing of the book will cost you only $4,000. (Has anyone read it here?) Here’s the title page:
- 1904 – Margaret Bourke-White, American photographer and journalist (d. 1971). Here’s a famous photo of the famous photographer:
- 1909 – Burl Ives, American actor and singer (d. 1995)
- 1931 – Junior Walker, American saxophonist (d. 1995)
- 1961 – Boy George, English singer-songwriter and producer
I cannot mention Junior Walker without showing a live version of his most famous song, this one performed on the Letterman show. That’s a smokin’ sax! Doesn’t it make you want to get up and dance?
And for these people it was curtains on June 14:
- 1801 – Benedict Arnold, American general during the American Revolution later turned British spy (b. 1741)
- 1883 – Edward FitzGerald, English poet and author (b. 1809)
- 1926 – Mary Cassatt, American-French painter (b. 1843)
- 1936 – G. K. Chesterton, English essayist, poet, playwright, and novelist (b. 1874)
- 1986 – Jorge Luis Borges, Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator (b. 1899)
- 2007 – Kurt Waldheim, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Austrian politician, 9th President of Austria (b. 1918)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is outraged after finding Szaron’s toy in her “nest” (a pile of blankets left for her should she return home in the middle of the night). Malgorzata explains:
Yes, it’s on the verandah and this is Hili’s nest into which Szaron dragged his toy. The toy is a tiny plush mouse. Hili is angry that Szaron is using her nest. Luckily, she still doesn’t know that he is also jumping on her beloved shelf on the veranda!A: What are you looking at?Hili: Szaron brought his toy here.A: Is it bad?Hili: Very bad.
Ja: Czemu się tak przyglądasz?
Hili: Szaron tu przyniósł swoją zabawkę.
Ja: Czy to źle?
Hili: Bardzo źle.
A meme from Bruce Thiel:
From Scott Metzger on FB via Divy:
From Barry. Readers: what species of bird is this? Be sure to put the sound up:
Serenading 😂💙 pic.twitter.com/OFYgMQt4ec
— CCTV_IDIOTS (@cctv_idiots) June 13, 2020
From Merilee: A sheepcoon named “Governor”. I can envision a BBC show: “A man and his raccoon.”
governor's herding em up again pic.twitter.com/7qaOOWOalc
— genius billionaire (@DucksOnline) June 12, 2020
Tweets from Matthew. Them’s some powerful legs!
Lanky, adolescent katydid working on its hop. pic.twitter.com/FrXLOdQkp3
— Adrian Smith (@DrAdrianSmith) June 13, 2020
Cat racing is even harder than cat herding:
Why cat racing is not a sport. pic.twitter.com/zY2H6ujc6s
— ScienceBlogs (@ScienceBlogs) June 13, 2020
One of Matthew’s beloved optical illusions:
There appear to be red-purple and orange goldfish, though they are the same color. There appear to be bluish and greenish goldfish, though they are the same color. pic.twitter.com/5CLrs1SaLM
— Akiyoshi Kitaoka (@AkiyoshiKitaoka) June 13, 2020
See the link for the video:
“I didn't think it was big enough for her to get in, but she never ceases to amaze me.” https://t.co/jcfoh1J4vC
— The Dodo (@dodo) June 13, 2020
From the science communicator at Chicago’s Field Museum, we hear of big trouble at that venerable institutions. That is a LOT of job loss!
71 positions eliminated, 56 employees furloughed. The Field Museum- and the museum field in general – is losing some of its best and brightest; also youngest, most diverse, progressive, innovative minds. It is a devastating setback as a cultural & science organization.
— Emily Graslie 📺🦕🦖 (@Ehmee) June 12, 2020
As Matthew notes, this beautiful next is an “extended phenotype” in the Dawkinsia sense:
Somehow this is represented in the neurons in their birdy brains and, ultimately, in their genes. https://t.co/7F3Rz0SnYL
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) April 28, 2020