It’s Thursday, August 13, 2020, and Dorothy’s ducks are ending their seventh week of life. I expect them to be flying soon, and that will be exciting. It’s National Filet Mignon Day, placating those who prize soft texture above flavor in their beef. Do yourself a favor and eat a ribeye or a t-bone instead. It’s also National Prosecco Day, and International Lefthanders Day. In honor of those in this category, you can find a list of famous left-handers here. Here are the left-handed U.S. Presidents (there may have been earlier ones whose sinistrality we don’t know about):
James A. Garfield (1831-1881) 20th
Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) 31st
Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) 33rd
Gerald Ford (1913- ) 38th
Ronald Reagan (1911 – ) 40th
George H.W. Bush (1924- ) 41st
Bill Clinton (1946- ) 42nd
Barack Obama (1961- ) 44th
News of the Day: I have misplaced my keys, which is a real pain, and so must go home and search for them after the morning duck feeding. Posting may be very light today! Wish me luck.
I watched Joe Biden’s introduction of Kamala Harris yesterday, and it was impressive, especially Harris. She is smart, energetic, and will be a vigorous campaigner—a real asset to the ticket. I’d recommend you watch this; Harris takes the podium at 17:00 (about halfway through).
The New York Times reports that due to lags, underreporting and other irregularities, the death toll in the U.S. from coronavirus may have already passed 200,000. That was a figure unimaginable a few months ago.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 165,936, an increase of about 1500 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 748,007, an increase of about 7200 deaths from yesterday.
Stuff that happened on August 13 includes:
- 1521 – After an extended siege, forces led by Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés capture Tlatoani Cuauhtémoc and conquer the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan.
- 1889 – William Gray of Hartford, Connecticut is granted United States Patent Number 408,709 for “Coin-controlled apparatus for telephones.”
- 1918 – Women enlist in the United States Marine Corps for the first time. Opha May Johnson is the first woman to enlist.
Johnson, below, enlisted in the Marine Corps reserve in 1918, worked as a clerk, and then was disenrolled after the war, so her tenure was about a year.
- 1942 – Major General Eugene Reybold of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorizes the construction of facilities that would house the “Development of Substitute Materials” project, better known as the Manhattan Project.
- 1961 – Cold War: East Germany closes the border between the eastern and western sectors of Berlin to thwart its inhabitants’ attempts to escape to the West, and construction of the Berlin Wall is started.
Here’s a six-minute video of the construction (and destruction) of the wall. I passed through it in about 1963, as my father (in U.S. Army uniform) took the family into East Berlin for a tour. That was allowed then:
- 1964 – Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans are hanged for the murder of John Alan West becoming the last people executed in the United Kingdom.
They were both males; Gwynne (apparently not a transgender woman) was born “John Walby”. The murder was committed during the home robbery of the driver of a laundry van. As support for the death penalty was waning in England, the execution by hanging was somewhat of a surprise.
- 1967 – Two young women became the first fatal victims of grizzly bear attacks in the 57-year history of Montana’s Glacier National Park in separate incidents.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1860 – Annie Oakley, American target shooter (d. 1926)
- 1895 – Bert Lahr, American actor (d. 1967)
Here’s Lahr as the Cowardly Lion, showing his inner cowardice:
- 1899 – Alfred Hitchcock, English-American director and producer (d. 1980)
- 1912 – Ben Hogan, American golfer and sportscaster (d. 1997)
- 1912 – Salvador Luria, Italian-American microbiologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1991)
Luria won the Nobel Prize with Max Delbück in 1969; the pair demonstrated that mutations in bacteria were not induced by antibiotics, but were spontaneous occurrences that arose regardless of the antibiotic. This was a demonstration of Darwinian evolution rather than Lamarckian evolution in bacteria. That is, mutations occur regardless of the “needs” of the organism (read more about it here). Here are the pair, with Delbrück on the left:
- 1919 – George Shearing, English jazz pianist and bandleader (d. 2011)
- 1926 – Fidel Castro, Cuban lawyer and politician, 15th President of Cuba (d. 2016)
- 1948 – Kathleen Battle, American operatic soprano
- 1951 – Dan Fogelberg, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2007)
Those who became defunct on August 13 include:
- 1865 – Ignaz Semmelweis, Hungarian physician and obstetrician (b. 1818)
- 1910 – Florence Nightingale, Italian-English nurse and theologian (b. 1820)
- 1946 – H. G. Wells, English novelist, historian, and critic (b. 1866)
- 1995 – Mickey Mantle, American baseball player and sportscaster (b. 1931)
- 2004 – Julia Child, American chef, author, and television host (b. 1912)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, where it’s hot, Hili is trying to keep cool:
Hili: W taki upał nie wiadomo gdzie się schować.Ja: W domu jest chłodno.Hili: Przecież ja nie narzekam.
Here are two new photos of kitten Kulka (and one with Szaron) at Andrzej’s and Malgorzata’s:
Kulka likes Szaron’s tail:
From reader Bruce:
From Jesus of the Day (anybody know what the music is?):
A grammar lesson from cats, conjugation of “lie”. Courtesy of Fat Cat Art:
I haven’t yet seen the Scottish National Party’s “hate crime” bill, but perhaps a reader can direct us. Of course Titania favors it:
Oh look. Another “comedian” moaning about “free speech” because of @theSNP’s new Hate Crime bill.
If you don’t want to be arrested, don’t say the wrong things. It really is that simple. https://t.co/SnRh4PPiCe
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) August 11, 2020
Two tweets from Simon. Ariel Atkins is an organizer for Black Lives Matter. Do they really think that this kind of rhetoric will help the cause? No, but it will certainly help Trump!
BLM organizer with the enlightened view that looting and vandalizing property constitutes “reparations” and that stealing from Nike or Gucci is ok because “that makes sure a person eats.”
— Bo Winegard (@EPoe187) August 11, 2020
Poor pummelled kitty!
Sharing your bench with a talker https://t.co/5yc4FCzq6T
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) August 12, 2020
A tweet from Ginger K. And yes, I find it funny, too, though it’s definitely a geek joke:
Am I the only one who finds this sticker really amusing?? pic.twitter.com/TpRWRsBTDd
— Jess 🇪🇺 👩🔬🦠 (@culturedagar) August 11, 2020
Tweets from Matthew. Both of us love mud dauber wasps and potter wasps because of the fantastic fact that the complex architecture of their larder is coded in a brain the size of two grains of sand. Have a look at the whole thread, which has some lovely videos:
Here’s my #InvertOfTheWeek, what’s yours? 🙂 This is the 3rd year in a row I’ve had Organ Pipe Mud Daubers (Trypoxylon politum) nesting right outside my door, such fascinating #wasps to watch! In this clip, you can see the male inside the nest while the female builds onto it. pic.twitter.com/4VpCSFkteG
— Kerry Yurewicz (@KYurewicz) August 12, 2020
And a really nice physics video, though it’s surely time-lapse photos:
The best 50 pixels movie ever. Seeing Pluto and Charon go around the center of mass, which is literally empty space, is a reminder of how unintuitive yet fascinating physics can be.@AlanStern, what was it like when these views were first received by the @NewHorizons2015 team? pic.twitter.com/Pntc3FkByf
— Jatan Mehta (@uncertainquark) August 12, 2020
The lamebrain sheriff’s reason: “The fact is, the amount of professionals that give the reason why we should, I can find the exact same amount of professionals that say why we shouldn’t.”
‘This is no longer a debate’: Florida sheriff bans deputies, visitors from wearing masks https://t.co/DXJRLeBhoX
— Catherine Rampell (@crampell) August 12, 2020
I’m sure I’ve put this up before, but I love this song (and Joni) so much that I retweeted it:
Sound up. A fantastic song from one of the true greats of our (i.e., my) generation. I wonder what Dylan was thinking. Roger McGuinn appears to be there, too. https://t.co/XFyf0TuFfj
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) August 12, 2020