Welcome to Tuesday, “the cruelest day” as I call it after T. S. Eliot: August 11, 2020. Readership remains low and I am dispirited. It’s National Panini Day, an example of cultural appropriation, as well as National Raspberry Bombe Day, National Raspberry Tart Day, and Ingersoll Day, honoring the Great Agnostic, born on August 11, 1833. I didn’t know what a raspberry bombe was, either, but it turns out to be a beautiful frozen dessert with ice cream and raspberries, and sometimes cake and meringue. I’ve certainly never had one, but here’s a specimen:
News of the Day: Sadly, there was widespread looting in downtown Chicago yesterday, with over 100 people arrested, 13 police officers injured, many stores damaged, and a civilian and a security guard in the hospital in critical condition. It appears to be a reaction to an incident in Englewood when police officers and a man shot at each other (nobody was killed though the man was injured). Lori Lightfoot, our badass mayor, called the looting “straight-up felony criminal conduct.”
I believe Joe Biden will announce his running mate this week, possibly today. It will be a woman for sure, but whether a white woman (like Gretchen Whitmer, said to be a prime candidate) or a black woman like Kamala Harris or Susan Rice is a subject of discussion. Even Elizabeth Warren is under consideration, though I’m guessing she won’t be the choice. My money is on Harris.
A quirk of nature: a waterfall in Australia blown backwards (up) by high winds. See the video at the BBC here (h/t: Jeremy).
Yesterday’s poll on whether the term “master bedroom” should be eliminated because it’s sexist and/or racist showed a strong majority against elimination (80.6%), with about 6% favoring elimination and the rest having no opinion. Here are the results as of 5:30 a.m. today:
It is a thin day for everything today. Stuff that happened on August 11 includes:
- 3114 BC – The Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, used by several pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations, notably the Maya, begins.
- 1858 – The Eiger in the Bernese Alps is ascended for the first time by Charles Barrington accompanied by Christian Almer and Peter Bohren.
The treacherous North Face, which has killed 64 climbers, was not successfully climbed until 1938: here’s why:
- 1929 – Babe Ruth becomes the first baseball player to hit 500 home runs in his career with a home run at League Park in Cleveland, Ohio.
- 1934 – The first civilian prisoners arrive at the Federal prison on Alcatraz Island.
Here’s what a cell on Alcatraz was like. You can now visit the island and prison courtesy of the National Park Service.
- 1942 – Actress Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil receive a patent for a Frequency-hopping spread spectrum communication system that later became the basis for modern technologies in wireless telephones and Wi-Fi.
- 1965 – Race riots (the Watts Riots) begin in the Watts area of Los Angeles, California.
- 1972 – Vietnam War: The last United States ground combat unit leaves South Vietnam.
- 1984 – “We begin bombing in five minutes“: United States President Ronald Reagan, while running for re-election, jokes while preparing to make his weekly Saturday address on National Public Radio.
Here’s a recording of that mike test, which was a joke, though it put the Soviets on military alert for some time:
Notables born on this day include:
Ingersoll, the Hitchens of his day for his atheism, eloquence on the platform, and great writing style, died at only 65 from heart failure. Here’s the only known photograph of The Great Agnostic speaking to an audience:
- 1905 – Erwin Chargaff, Austrian-American biochemist and academic (d. 2002)
Chargaff, of course, figures out that the ratio of As to Ts in DNA was 1:1, as was the ratio of Cs to Gs. This showed to Watson and Crick that their model was right, as it involved pairing of As with Ts, and of Cs with Gs. But Chargaff didn’t win a Nobel Prize, as he didn’t realize the import of his finding.
- 1921 – Alex Haley, American historian and author (d. 1992)
- 1926 – Aaron Klug, Lithuanian-English chemist and biophysicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2018)
- 1933 – Jerry Falwell, American minister and television host (d. 2007)
- 1950 – Steve Wozniak, American computer scientist and programmer, co-founded Apple Inc.
- 1967 – Joe Rogan, American actor, comedian, and television host
Those who checked out on August 11 include:
- 1494 – Hans Memling, German-Belgian painter (b. 1430)
- 1890 – John Henry Newman, English cardinal and theologian (b. 1801)
- 1919 – Andrew Carnegie, Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist, founded the Carnegie Steel Company and Carnegie Hall (b. 1835)
- 1937 – Edith Wharton, American novelist and short story writer (b. 1862)
- 1956 – Jackson Pollock, American painter (b. 1912)
- 2002 – Galen Rowell, American photographer and mountaineer (b. 1940)
- 2014 – Robin Williams, American actor and comedian (b. 1951)
- 2018 – V S Naipaul, British writer (b. 1932)
Here’s Galen Rowell’s great photograph of the Potala in Lhasa with a rainbow. Rowell, a mountaineer as well as a superb photographer, is one of my idols, and was killed in a plane crash in the Owens Valley at only 61.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili talks about that small town:
Hili: Once upon a time it was a big town.A: It wasn’t bigger than today.Hili: That’s true, but other towns were smaller then.
Hili: To było kiedyś duże miasto.Ja: Nie było większe niż dziś.Hili: To prawda, ale inne miasta były wtedy mniejsze.
Here are two pictures of Kitten Kulka, one with his new staff, Paulina:
A meme from Nicole. I had one of these “service animals” (descented) for several years:
Somehow I missed this tweet by Dick King-Smith, reproduced at Jesus of the Day:
Also from Jesus of the Day:
I tweeted because this imbalance angered me. The story about the riots and looting here is an important one, but got scant coverage in the New York Times compared to the Master Bedroom Kerfuffle:
Word count in NYT story on looting in Chicago: 623https://t.co/EGGTmMCPbd
Word count in NYT story about controversy about the use of the term "master bedroom" as racist: 882https://t.co/Bp4SP2Jli5
I think the count is right. Such are their priorities.
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) August 10, 2020
Two tweets from Simon, the first labeled by him, “Grounds crew doesn’t quite have it together.”
— Matt Glassman (@MattGlassman312) August 9, 2020
Simon also knows about Nature papers:
“Patience, this is my one chance of a Nature paper. We need to find a mechanism first” pic.twitter.com/rngOYjg97V
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) August 10, 2020
From Barry, who says, “Such a scary kitty!” This is the best video I’ve seen yet of a lion cub “roaring”.
Sound up for this scary kitty! pic.twitter.com/FCPb8R6S4W
— Mari-enrolled Ojibwe #NativeAmerican Writer (@wordglass) August 10, 2020
Tweets from Matthew. About this first one on porcupines, he said “I had no idea.” Me neither:
Putting some cuteness on your feed this Tuesday morning.
Did you know? Prehensile tailed porcupines are native to the forests of South America! In their natural habitat they live in trees and rarely descend to the ground. Their tail is essential!#SacramentoZoo pic.twitter.com/TN9Q6KSUoB
— Sacramento Zoo (@SacramentoZoo) June 30, 2020
You’ll miss the pooping unless you watch closely:
Imagine pooping with this much confidence https://t.co/BK2gSGUvR9
— Kory Evans PhD (@Sternarchella) August 10, 2020
This is an excellent idea for anyone who lives with animals nearby:
Please leave shallow bowls of water out for wildlife during these hot spells, you never know who needs a drink 🐾 @Lucy_Lapwing @ChrisGPackham @gillians_voice @BillOddie @IoloWilliams2 @MartinHGames pic.twitter.com/yK9NqDOQKg
— Lydia Besford (@lydia_besford) August 10, 2020