Happy (?) Tuesday: June 30, 2020. It’s my younger sister’s birthday and my half-birthday (I was born on December 30, almost exactly 2.5 years before my sister Susan). Happy birthday, sis! Here’s the passport photo of my mom, Susan, and I before we went to Greece when I was five.
Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) celebrates Marsha P. Johnson; described in a long article in Wikipedia that begins like this:
Marsha P. Johnson (August 24, 1945 – July 6, 1992) was an American gay liberation activist and self-identified drag queen. Known as an outspoken advocate for gay rights, Johnson was one of the prominent figures in the Stonewall uprising of 1969. A founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, Johnson co-founded the radical activist group Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R.), alongside close friend Sylvia Rivera. A popular figure in New York City’s gay and art scene, Johnson modeled for Andy Warhol, and performed onstage with the drag performance troupe Hot Peaches. Known for decades as a welcoming presence in the streets of Greenwich Village, Johnson was known as the “mayor of Christopher Street”. From 1987 through 1992, Johnson was an AIDS activist with ACT UP.
Johnson was found floating in the Hudson River in 1992, at the age of only 46. Police ruled the death a suicide, but that’s not at all clear.
News of the Day: It’s especially bad today. First, re the Russian bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan, it’s now apparent that Trump received a written briefing about this in February, though the White House denies that he was ever briefed. There has still been no statement from the “President” about this.
The pandemic is still surging in America, and at least a dozen states have rolled back their “reopenings”. About 43% of the deaths in the U.S. have been connected with nursing homes. We’re all in trouble.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 126,160, an increase of about 400 over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 504,990, an increase of about 3300 from yesterday.
Matthew and I are both feeling low today, and, as I just wrote him, “You’re not alone, though of course that’s no consolation. The saddest words I hear on the t.v. during the pandemic are, ‘We’re all in this together’.”
To cheer yourself up, read this NYT piece about the amazing way that “flying snakes” glide through the air.
Stuff that happened on June 30 includes:
- 1859 – French acrobat Charles Blondin crosses Niagara Falls on a tightrope.
Here’s a picture of the feat. No safety rope!
- 1860 – The 1860 Oxford evolution debate at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History takes place.
If you don’t know about the “monkey retort” of Huxley, you should:
According to a letter written 30 years later to Francis Darwin, when [Thomas Henry] Huxley heard this he whispered to Brodie, “The Lord hath delivered him into mine hands”. Huxley’s own contemporary account, in a letter to Henry Dyster on September 9, 1860, makes no mention of this remark. Huxley rose to defend Darwin’s theory, finishing his speech with the now-legendary assertion that he was not ashamed to have a monkey for his ancestor, but he would be ashamed to be connected with a man who used great gifts to obscure the truth [he was referring to Bishop Wilberforce]. Later retellings indicate that this statement had a tremendous effect on the audience, and Lady Brewster is said to have fainted.
Reliable accounts indicate that although Huxley did respond with the “monkey” retort, the remainder of his speech was unremarkable.
- 1864 – U.S. President Abraham Lincoln grants Yosemite Valley to California for “public use, resort and recreation”.
- 1882 – Charles J. Guiteau is hanged in Washington, D.C. for the assassination of U.S. President James Garfield.
- 1905 – Albert Einstein sends the article On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies, in which he introduces special relativity, for publication in Annalen der Physik.
Here’s the first page of the paper:
- 1937 – The world’s first emergency telephone number, 999, is introduced in London.
- 1966 – The National Organization for Women, the United States’ largest feminist organization, is founded.
- 1990 – East Germany and West Germany merge their economies.
- 2013 – Protests begin around Egypt against President Mohamed Morsi and the ruling Freedom and Justice Party, leading to their overthrow during the 2013 Egyptian coup d’état.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1817 – Joseph Dalton Hooker, English botanist and explorer (d. 1911)
Hooker, along with Huxley, was one of the participants in the Oxford Evolution Debate in 1860.
- 1926 – Paul Berg, American biochemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate
- 1952 – Susan Jane Coyne, Professor Ceiling Cat’s beloved sister
- 1966 – Mike Tyson, American boxer and actor
Those who went toes up on June 30 include:
- 1961 – Lee de Forest, American inventor, invented the audion tube (b. 1873)
- 2001 – Chet Atkins, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1924)
- 2003 – Buddy Hackett, American actor and comedian (b. 1924)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is bemoaning the dearth of rodents. Are they sheltering?
Hili: Can it be the effect of pandemics?A: What?Hili: That the mice are nowhere to be seen.
Hili: Czy to może być efekt pandemii?
Hili: To, że myszy nigdzie nie widać.
From Andrée we get one of the finest memes I’ve seen lately:
From reader Barry (and it’s true about the unicorns):
From Jesus of the Day. I’m pretty sure this is a real photo. (I suspect they’re catching an anesthetized bear that fell out of a tree.)
A tweet from reader Erik. Listen to that adorable little rodent (sound up!):
I put my microphone in front of a 7 week old baby red squirrel. pic.twitter.com/JrRRvE9ngN
— Dani Connor Wild 🐿 (@DaniConnorWild) June 23, 2020
A surprise duck sent by two readers, Shelley and Gethyn. What a nice thing to find in the kitchen!
Monday morning's reason for apologising during a work call: this duck walked into my kitchen. I do not own a duck. pic.twitter.com/KqOQwC5KHu
— Lucy Nicholls (@LucySomerset) June 22, 2020
Tweets from Matthew. This first one shows unbelievable skill.
Awesome club passing routine! Hats off (that too!) pic.twitter.com/THypU0bIKr
— Larry Hunter (@ProfLHunter) June 29, 2020
I fricking LOVE this hairless, water-loving cat! Be sure to watch the video of Cooper.
This cat is obsessed with water 😹 pic.twitter.com/FXxPJURsSK
— The Dodo (@dodo) June 29, 2020
Can you believe it: this raptor got a SHARK! Translation: “Come on, shark, let’s go for a walk.”
“Ven, tiburoncín, vamos a dar un paseo” pic.twitter.com/p4sdYIq5cf
— Juan Fdo. Zuluaga (@jfzuluaga) June 28, 2020
So there! (I bet somebody actually said this once.)
Checkmate atheists ! pic.twitter.com/5AhhgRnbOR
— History_of_Geology (@Geology_History) June 29, 2020
Don’t ask me why this thing looks as it does. But it does look like a piece of jewelry.
The leaf-footed bug.
(Photo: Leonardo Castro) pic.twitter.com/JuuZ4Qx4nv
— A Book of Rather Strange Animals (@StrangeAnimaIs) June 29, 2020
Now this is truly stunning: preserved wing patterns millions of years old:
Look at this fabulous fossil beetle with wing patterning preserved. This is from Douglas Pass, Colorado, part of the Green River Formation, dating to Eocene, 56-33.9 million years ago.
Image is a photo in Kirk Johnson and Ray Troll’s Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway. pic.twitter.com/5S8EV002a4
— John Tweedie (@JTweedie) June 28, 2020