Good morning on Ceiling Cat’s Day: Sunday, August 30, 2020, and I am tired after only about four hours of sleep (more on that later). It’s National Toasted Marshmallow Day; below are some “medium” toasted marshmallows, which are already too burnt for many people but not burnt enough for me. These may be useful for s’mores, but it’s the gastronomic equivalent of eating a steak well done:
But I prefer mine burnt to a crisp, which you can do by setting the whole thing on fire (no “toasting”) and waiting for the flames to die down. I couldn’t find a picture of my preferred “well done” marshmallow, but here’s an approximation. My optimum state, however, is totally black all over, a round ash.
News of the Day: Lovely news: after 79 years of marriage, an Ecuadorian couple have just set the record for the combined age of a married couple: nearly 215 years. He’s 110 and she’s 104!
The two retired teachers live in Ecuador’s capital of Quito, where in mid-August they received the Guinness certification.
Their daughter Cecilia says they are both lucid and active, although they no longer have the agility they had before. But “for a month they have been different, more downcast because they miss large family gatherings”.
And they can gather quite a crowd: four surviving children, 11 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
“Since March, we have not had any of that,” Cecilia said. “My parents need family contact.”
She said her father enjoys watching television and drinking milk and that her mother, who enjoys desserts, likes to read the newspaper every morning.
Here are the lovebirds:
CNN reports on the brand-new Celera 500L, a bullet-shaped jet airplane that carries six passengers but has only one-eighth the fuel consumption: It gets 18-25 miles per gallon compared to 2-3 for conventional jets of the same size. Here’s the weird-looking thing (this is a test version; the passenger version will have side windows):
“Featured news” from Huffpost (click on screenshot if you want):
There are reports that a 25 year old man from Nevada has contracted coronavirus twice, judging by the genetic differences between the viral strains in both infections. If this is true, we’re screwed.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 182,611, an increase of about 900 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 842,024, an increase of about 5,500 deaths from yesterday.
Stuff that happened on August 30 includes:
Here’s the one Gould made a big deal of in his book Wonderful Life: Pikaia, a chordate, and thus more closely related to us than are the other fossils. Remember that though it’s a chordate, and thus in the same phylum as we are, this doesn’t mean it was our ancestor, though Gould does some heavy breathing about that. It could have been a relative of our chordate ancestor, but one that went extinct.
- 1916 – Ernest Shackleton completes the rescue of all of his men stranded on Elephant Island in Antarctica.
This is one of the great adventure stories of all time, and is well worth reading about. Shackleton died of a heart attack at 47. Here’s his grave on South Georgia Island, where he navigated to get help for his men. If I ever get back to the Antarctic I hope to visit it (one traditionally toasts Shackleton by quaffing a shot of whisky at the grave).
- 1918 – Fanni Kaplan shoots and seriously injures Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin, which along with the assassination of Bolshevik senior official Moisei Uritsky days earlier, prompts the decree for Red Terror.
- 1963 – The Moscow–Washington hotline between the leaders of the U.S. and the Soviet Union goes into operation.
The hotline isn’t a red telephone as many people think; it was a fax machine, a teletype, and now a secure computer line that handles emails.
- 1967 – Thurgood Marshall is confirmed as the first African American Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
- 1992 – The 11-day Ruby Ridge standoff ends with Randy Weaver surrendering to federal authorities.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1797 – Mary Shelley, English novelist and playwright (d. 1851)
- 1871 – Ernest Rutherford, New Zealand-English physicist and chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1937)
- 1893 – Huey Long, American lawyer and politician, 40th Governor of Louisiana (d. 1935)
Long was assassinated in Baton Rouge. Here’s the old demagogue giving a speech (with a Louisiana accent) about “sharing the wealth”. A corrupt authoritarian along the lines of Trump, he also had a populist appeal à la Bernie Sanders:
- 1901 – Roy Wilkins, American journalist and activist (d. 1981)
- 1930 – Warren Buffett, American businessman and philanthropist
- 1943 – Robert Crumb, American illustrator
Ah, Crumb, the comic-book hero of hippies! I have many of his comics, and I can’t leave out a Crumb drawing! Here’s Mr. Natural speaking truth to power:
Those whose lights went out on August 30 include:’
- 1940 – J. J. Thomson, English physicist and mathematician, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1856)
- 2013 – Seamus Heaney, Irish poet and playwright, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1939)
- 2015 – Oliver Sacks, English-American neurologist, author, and academic (b. 1933)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Andrzej have a tender moment of bonding:
Hili: I like sitting with you on the steps.A: Yes, these are very nice moments.
Hili: Lubię siedzieć z wami na schodkach.Ja: Tak, to są bardzo miłe chwile.
Here’s a heart-melting photo of Szaron and Kitten Kulka, now BFFs, sleeping together upstairs (photo by Paulina):
From Bad Cat Clothing:
From Quick Turtle. Send me your photos like this—I’ll put ’em up! (The site has 18 more photos; click on the screenshot):
From Jesus of the Day. I desperately need an explanation of this photo:
A tweet from reader Barry with a guy rattling off Trump’s lies from his RNC speech. It’s pretty devastating, and Barry adds, “I love Anderson Cooper’s this-is-entertaining sip from his cup.” (That’s at 2:43.)
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) August 28, 2020
From Dom, who adds, “Cue Cheesus jokes!”
OED Word of the Day: artotyrite. n. A member of a sect originating in Galatia in the 2nd cent. A.D. who celebrate the Eucharist with bread and cheese.https://t.co/TTK9Ovjy56
— The OED (@OED) August 29, 2020
Simon likes this site, which turns videos into metaphors for academia:
An academic getting a taste of power https://t.co/slbmWXAouq
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) August 28, 2020
Tweets from Matthew. The first one shows a great movie clip. They don’t make movies like this any more, and it’s a shame. But people wouldn’t go to see them now because every popular movie has a chase scene. (In fact, many of them, like Mad Max: Fury Road, are one long chase scene.)
Ruby Keeler #BOTD One of my first introductions to movie musicals was watching on TV Ruby Keeler tap dancing on a typewriter. It blew my mind at the time. The set, the creativity. Who thinks like this? From Ready, Willing and Able (1937) dir. Ray Enright, choreography: Sol Polito pic.twitter.com/iPRBXl5PMe
— Rose Marie (@rosiemarie10395) August 25, 2020
Here’s a word puzzle. Neither Matthew nor I can figure it out, but Matthew says, ”
There’s something in common with all these combinations (eg you could put letters before them or after them) or they sound like something. It’s a riddle. The answer isn’t in the thread, just lots of ppl saying how clever it is.
Can you figure it out? If so, put your answer in the comments
— Moose Allain Ꙭ (@MooseAllain) August 28, 2020
A retweet from Matthew with good fly information. The garbled Google translation of the Japanese is this:
At the same pond as Ginyanma-senpai, he finally made his debut with a cute fly such as a mantis called a mantis. I was watching it to the extent that it did not cause heat stroke, but it was cute and mysterious that the average club (white protrusion under the wing base) was always moving during the mysterious dance of the example. （´-` Wasn’t this just used when flying?
Ooh good spot. As well as moving its raptorial front legs in some kind of display, note the movement of the halteres, the tiny white clubs at the base of the wings (in fact a vestigial front pair of wings, in all flies, used for balance). @flygirlNHM https://t.co/18LlW0ls18
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) August 29, 2020
Very clever filmmaking on the cheap:
Low budget filmmaking..
🎥 IG: karenxcheng pic.twitter.com/r4u2GhIJok
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden_) August 27, 2020
A murmuration of sandpipers! This is fantastic:
There are many many many reasons for protecting nature – including the fact that it is amazing! As shown by these sandpipers and their stunning boomerang-shaped display…
— Little Green Space 🐝 (@LGSpace) August 25, 2020