Hola, everyone. It’s a very rainy Tuesday, September 8, 2020. Good weather for ducks! National Date-Nut Bread Day, celebrating a toothsome snack. It’s also International Literacy Day, Star Trek Day, World Physical Therapy Day, and National Pledge of Allegiance Day, marking the date in 1892 when the Pledge first appeared in the children’s magazine The Youth’s Companion. The pledge was adopted as official by Congress in 1942, and you probably know that the words “under God” weren’t added until 1954—to distinguish us from those godless Commies.
I have a spiffy new Darwin-fish pandemic mask sent by Nicole. If you’d like a mask like this, or any custom mask, you can get one from this site on Facebook (there’s a phone number and you can also do a private message).
News of the Day: As I write this on Monday evening, more trouble is brewing in Portland, as now a pro-Trump caravan is going to join the mix, with over 1000 Trump supporters heading into Troublesville. Over the weekend protestors threw Molotov cocktails, setting one man on fire, and 59 people were arrested. I’ve visited Portland twice, and loved that town, but I wouldn’t want to live there now.
This morning the trouble seems to have been not horrible: there were clashes, and the Trumpers fired paint-ball guns at the other side, but nobody was killed or shot, thank Ceiling Cat.
The troubles also continue in Belarus, as opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova was snatched from the streets by masked men, stuffed in a van, and driven away. The police deny knowing anything about it, but you can bet that the dictator Alexander Lukashenko is behind it.
At Spiked, Brendan O’Neill analyzes the success and import of “race faker” Jessica Krug, a white Jewish academic who posed as an Afro-Latina. I didn’t have much to say about this, though I was astonished at the acrimony she’s receiving.
The news is all depressing, so I won’t concentrate on politics, demonstrations, or the like. Here’s a nostalgic road trip down the moribund Route 66, a trip I hope to make myself one day. Check out the gorgeous photograph of a railroad train at sunset.
And the NYT has a nice interview with John Cleese about books. He admires Jon Haidt, likes to read about the history and philosophy of science, and names the three famous literary figures he’d like to dine with.
150,000 purple martins have descended on Nashville during their annual migration to South America. Here’s how conservationists saved them from the exterminators (it’s illegal to hurt them). You can see a video of the huge flock here, and a simulated bird’s-eye-view of their twice yearly 5,000-mile flight here.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 189,076, an increase of about 250 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 891,999, an increase of about 9,300 deaths from yesterday.
Stuff that happened on September 8 includes:
- 1504 – Michelangelo’s David is unveiled in Piazza della Signoria in Florence.
- 1888 – Isaac Peral’s submarine is first tested.
- 1892 – The Pledge of Allegiance is first recited.
- 1914 – World War I: Private Thomas Highgate becomes the first British soldier to be executed for desertion during the war.
- 1921 – Margaret Gorman, a 16-year-old, wins the Atlantic City Pageant’s Golden Mermaid trophy; pageant officials later dubbed her the first Miss America.
Sixteen is actually a bit creepy but so is the whole competition. Gorman, shown below, later said, “I never cared to be Miss America. It wasn’t my idea. I am so bored by it all. I really want to forget the whole thing.”
- 1930 – 3M begins marketing Scotch transparent tape.
- 1935 – US Senator from Louisiana Huey Long is fatally shot in the Louisiana State Capitol building.
Here’s a brief documentary on Long’s political life. I’m fascinated by this man, the Trump of Louisiana, though far more canny:
- 1941 – World War II: German forces begin the Siege of Leningrad.
- 1966 – The landmark American science fiction television series Star Trek premieres with its first-aired episode, “The Man Trap”.
- 1974 – Watergate scandal: US President Gerald Ford signs the pardon of Richard Nixon for any crimes Nixon may have committed while in office.
Here’s the broadcast of Ford explaining his decision. He invokes God’s guidance in granting the pardon!
Notables born on this day include:
- 1841 – Antonín Dvořák, Czech composer and academic (d. 1904)
- 1886 – Siegfried Sassoon, English captain, journalist, and poet (d. 1967)
Here’s Sassoon (front) “with his brother Hamo and other students on the morning after a college May Ball at Cambridge University in 1906″ (photo from Wikipedia). This gives you a sense what life was like at Oxbridge at the turn of the last century.
- 1897 – Jimmie Rodgers, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1933)
- 1922 – Sid Caesar, American comic actor and writer (d. 2014)
- 1925 – Peter Sellers, English actor and comedian (d. 1980)
- 1932 – Patsy Cline, American singer-songwriter and pianist (d. 1963)
- 1941 – Bernie Sanders, American politician
- 1947 – Ann Beattie, American novelist and short story writer
- 1954 – Michael Shermer, American historian, author, and academic, founded The Skeptics Society
Those who began pushing up daisies on September 8 include:
- 1949 – Richard Strauss, German composer and manager (b. 1864)
- 1965 – Dorothy Dandridge, American actress and singer (b. 1922)
Dandridge, a talented actor, dancer, and singer, was the first black woman to be nominated for an Academy Award (for her performance in Carmen Jones). She had a hard life, and died at 42 under mysterious circumstances (it could have been suicide).
- 1977 – Zero Mostel, American actor and comedian (b. 1915)
- 1980 – Willard Libby, American chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1908)
- 2003 – Leni Riefenstahl, German actress, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1902)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is bored:
Hili: Stop writing and do something useful.A: Like what, for example?Hili: We could go for a walk.
Hili: Przestań pisać i zrób coś pożytecznego.Ja: Co na przykład?Hili: Możemy pójść na spacer.
And here’s kitten Kulka, who looks like she’s bristled up. Malgorzata said, “Kulka is in a fighting position. Hili was close by, hissing at her.” Hili simply cannot stand this adorable kitten, for Hili is the Queen and brooks no pretenders to her throne.
Posted on Facebook by Seth Andrews, who commented, “Yes. I have a favorite spatula.”
From Jesus of the Day, the importance of proper punctuation:
Posted by Mary:
From Titania. If this is sensitivity training, I’ll skip it. Note “PayPal me” on the right-hand side.
The most effective way to combat racial discrimination is to continually remind white people that they are inhuman demons who are beyond redemption. pic.twitter.com/WclBps4IKz
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) September 7, 2020
Tweets from Matthew. This thread from Miranda Jewess (what a name!), who’s an editor, is a corker—hilarious! I’ll put up a screenshot of some of her tweets in the thread:
I have just found the best book in the whole world. It is a German grammar book from 1913. Stick with me… A THREAD pic.twitter.com/z3brpD8Wpz
— Miranda Jewess (@mirandajewess) September 7, 2020
Oy! For evidence that Osama bin Laden’s niece endorses Trump, go here (or other places):
— Dr Jennifer S. Hunt (@Dr_JenHunt) September 7, 2020
I couldn’t not put this one up!
2020 has heralded the uncanny valley of robot butt sniffing: pic.twitter.com/TzYEkdevha
— Earthling (@ziyatong) September 7, 2020
And this kid is a hoot (he reminds me of my younger self). Sound up, please.
IM CRYINGGGGG😭😭😭😭 pic.twitter.com/hI7HyhySi7
— 🇭🇳s*ddest a*gel🇵🇪 (@th3saddestangel) September 6, 2020
Back to obedience school!
When your lack of sheepdog experience is cruelly exposed on your first day.
📹: Imgur user WOBaskerville pic.twitter.com/aGXFgbbZoE
— Paul Bronks (@SlenderSherbet) September 7, 2020