Good morning on Tuesday, July 21, 2020. It’s one of those grim days when life seems pointless, an endless repetition of the same useless tasks; if it were a computer program, it would read “N = N + 1”. The smallest task seems onerous, even feeding the ducks. I have made a latte with four shots of espresso to wake me up, as I slept very little. Further, it’s National Creme Brulee Day, one of the world’s most overrated desserts.
Creme brulee, which I regard as vanilla pudding with a sugary top. It is not filling, which is the duty of a dessert if your meal hasn’t sated you.
News of the Day: In view of Trump’s loss before the Supreme Court, which rejected his attempt to undermine DACA, Trump’s minions may be trying to find ways to skirt the law by executive decree. Several source, including the Guardian, report that John Yoo, a government lawyer who wrote the 2002 memo that justified tortures such as waterboarding, is now advising the Trump administration on how to flout the Supreme Court and curb immigration. Stay tuned.
Two teacher’s unions have sued Florida governor Ron DeSantis over his order that secondary schools open for five days a week in August. The unions maintain this violates a Florida law requiring schools to be “safe and secure.”
In view of his declining ratings (38% approval, 60% disapproval), Trump has resurrected his daily pandemic briefings. I will no longer watch them. I used to, but found them uninformative, rambling, full of Trumpian lies: all in all a disgusting display of the “President”‘s logorrhea.
The media is excited by the reports that three coronavaccines show promising preliminary results, which means they stimulate an antibody (and T-cell) response and have no obvious harmful side effects. The Oxford vaccine looks especially promising. Our question, of course, is whether the antibody response will actually reduce your chances of getting the disease, how long that antibody response will last, and whether any bad side effects from the vaccines will take longer to show up. Still, it’s a bright spot on the horizon in a dark time.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 140,903, an increase of about 540 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 609,408, an increase of about 3700 deaths from yesterday.
Stuff that happened on July 21 includes:
- 1861 – American Civil War: First Battle of Bull Run: At Manassas Junction, Virginia, the first major battle of the war begins and ends in a victory for the Confederate army.
- 1873 – At Adair, Iowa, Jesse James and the James–Younger Gang pull off the first successful train robbery in the American Old West.
- 1925 – Scopes Trial: In Dayton, Tennessee, high school biology teacher John T. Scopes is found guilty of teaching evolution in class and fined $100.
Here is the defense team with Scopes (second from right) and his lawyers, including Clarence Darrow (left):
I tweeted about the abysmal data on American acceptance of evolution:
Even today, nearly a century after the Scopes trial, 40% of Americans are young-earth creationists and 33% think God helped drive evolution, making 73% who see a divine hand in evolution. Only 1 in 5 accepts the naturalistic view we teach in class. 2/2.https://t.co/L7iGJfaUSo pic.twitter.com/KBoV118x2X
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) July 21, 2020
- 1944 – World War II: Claus von Stauffenberg and four fellow conspirators are executed for the July 20 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
- 1959 – Elijah Jerry “Pumpsie” Green becomes the first African-American to play for the Boston Red Sox, the last team to integrate. He came in as a pinch runner for Vic Wertz and stayed in as shortstop in a 2–1 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
- 1969– Apollo program: At 02:56 UTC, astronaut Neil Armstrong becomes the first person to walk on the Moon.
Here are Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin disporting themselves on the Moon:
- 1979 – Jay Silverheels, a Mohawk actor, becomes the first Native American to have a star commemorated in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
If you’re of a certain age, you will remember Silverheels as Tonto, the Lone Ranger’s companion, a figure that surely would not be portrayed today because of “stereotyping”. Here’s an old scene:
- 1983 – The world’s lowest temperature in an inhabited location is recorded at Vostok Station, Antarctica at −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F).
- 2011 – NASA’s Space Shuttle program ends with the landing of Space Shuttle Atlantis on mission STS-135 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
- 2012 – Erden Eruç completes the first solo human-powered circumnavigation of the world.
Eruç crossed the oceans in a fancy rowboat; here’s a photo:
Notables born on this day include:
- 1899 – Ernest Hemingway, American novelist, short story writer, and journalist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1961)
- 1920 – Isaac Stern, Polish violinist and conductor (d. 2001)
- 1948 – Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam), English singer-songwriter and guitarist
Here’s Cat Stevens (KIDDING, it’s me!):
The real Cat Stevens. (When I traveled in Greece, I was mistaken for him a few times, as Stevens, whose parents were Greek immigrants to the UK, used to be a hero in Greece.)
- 1948 – Garry Trudeau, American cartoonist
- 1951 – Robin Williams, American actor, singer, and producer (d. 2014)
- 1968 – Brandi Chastain, American soccer player and sportscaster
Those who kicked off on July 21 include:
Here is The Great Agnostic—the Hitchens of the 19th century.
- 1998 – Alan Shepard, American admiral, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1923)
- 2015 – E. L. Doctorow, American novelist, short story writer, and playwright (b. 1931)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili still doesn’t like Szaron:
A: And why are you looking at him with such animosity?Hili: Such are the times. Everybody is looking at each other with animosity.
Ja: I czemu ty patrzysz na niego tak niechętnie?Hili: Takie czasy. Wszyscy teraz patrzą na siebie niechętnie.
From Jesus of the Day:
A cartoon from reader Charles:
I tweeted yesterday!
It's Gregor Mendel's 198th birthday. Happy birthday to the man who gave peas a chance. pic.twitter.com/yx8Lvknc5h
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) July 20, 2020
. . . and so did Titania:
Anyone who has ever eaten a cheese sandwich is complicit in cow rape. pic.twitter.com/yrzEOiLIfm
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) July 20, 2020
A tweet from reader Simon:
The dilemma of the modern left pic.twitter.com/jGeph7Icyj
— Bo Winegard (@EPoe187) July 20, 2020
Tweets from Matthew. First, a bizarre horror movie which Matthew titles, “Everything is cake.”
Cake: The Movie pic.twitter.com/GjoVeXm3FP
— Daniel 'danbanbam' Spencer (@danbanbam) July 13, 2020
One of the many things that can go wrong in a Zoom meeting:
In a meeting, on camera, trying to act chill while the cat repeatedly steals my quiche pic.twitter.com/1pzLvvsTr5
— Gus (@goldisacks) July 20, 2020
Now why might you want your eggs on a stalk?
— Dave Hayes (@Gnarly_Larvae) September 6, 2016
. . and a close-up video:
Madison Co., Ky pic.twitter.com/Lc7TOtX6aJ
— Dave Hayes (@Gnarly_Larvae) September 6, 2016
Matthew is a severe critic of evolutionary psychology but tweeted this anyway!
Sexual selection in action. https://t.co/hk6jr5DB4H
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) July 18, 2020
Speaking of giving peas a chance, these ducks are wild for them! I wish my ducks would eat them. Sound up, please.
Give peas a chance?
Ducks – ‘NO.’ pic.twitter.com/IRa9IODBSR
— Dick King-Smith HQ (@DickKingSmith) July 18, 2020