Top o’ the morning to you on a coolish Wednesday, September 9, 2020. It’s National “I Love Food” Day, which is fine (who doesn’t love food?), but why the scare quotes. Is it a day to just pretend you love food? I hope not, for as Dr. Johnson said, “He who does not mind his belly, will hardly mind anything else.”
Finally, it’s National Teddy Bear Day. Here’s my teddy, Toasty. I’ve had him since I was born, and he resides in my office. He’s now a Senior Teddy, which explains his depilated state.
A favor for me: The nice lady who made my Darwin mask yesterday (I gather several of you ordered them) has entered her cat, Clarence, in an America’s Favorite Pet competition. Clarence was rescued at age 7 or 8 when the staff, seeing him in a shelter, fell in love with him. He’s an old cat now (at least 17) and looks grumpy, but is really very sweet and is quite pampered in his dotage. He was recently in the vet hospital with triaditis, and ran up a substantial bill. If Clarence wins (he’s currently #1 with a day left) the owner gets $5000, which she will apply towards that bill and further vet care (he also has inflammatory bowel disease). If you see fit to vote for this awesome rescue cat, go here and click on “free daily vote”. (You can see pictures of Clarence and his staff at the link.) One vote is free, and there’s no need to purchase votes! You can log in through Facebook, but can also cancel any followup ads after that. Voting for Clarence will help with the medical care of a Senior Rescue Cat. (Note: the owner did not ask me to vote for him or publicize this). If you see fit to vote for him, we could push Clarence over the top. There are 40 hours left.
News of the Day: Good news: the New York Times has, in its op-ed section, a 17-minute documentary video about an older Austrian man who lives with two remarkably chill Scottish fold cats and takes them everywhere. From the short NYT note:
The cats accompany him everywhere: to the bar, to the ski slopes, to the grocery store. As we watch their relationship unfold, the three build a world that’s exclusively and intimately theirs — a reminder that families are whatever we make them out to be. What defines them is love.
Oddly, the man seems to live in his underwear. But at the end, there be KITTENS!
Bad news: The trial of the touted AstraZenica and Oxford Covid-19 vaccine has been halted because of “potentially unexplained illness.” On the other hand, this is somewhat good news in that it shows that they’re doing the trials carefully, and aren’t rushing a vaccine to market that could be faulty.
At FiveThirtyEight, Biden still seems to hold an overall 7.5% lead over Trump. I’m remaining optimistic. Here’s an average of all the polls as of yesterday:
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 189,538, an increase of about 500 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 896,931, an increase of about 5,000 deaths from yesterday.
Stuff that happened on September 9 includes:
- 1543 – Mary Stuart, at nine months old, is crowned “Queen of Scots” in the central Scottish town of Stirling.
- 1776 – The Continental Congress officially names its union of states the United States.
- 1791 – Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States, is named after President George Washington.
That’s going to have to be changed pretty soon.
The photograph still exists. It’s below, and the caption from Wikipedia says: “Herschel’s first glass-plate photograph, dated 9 September 1839, showing the 40-foot telescope.
It’s not clear why they picked this date, as the Wikipedia article linked says nothing about September 9, 1845. Here’s a short video about the famine, which you should watch (few of us know even these details). But the famine did grace America with a number of Irish immigrants.
- 1923 – Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, founds the Republican People’s Party.
- 1942 – World War II: A Japanese floatplane drops incendiary bombs on Oregon.
- 1947 – First case of a computer bug being found: A moth lodges in a relay of a Harvard Mark II computer at Harvard University.
- 1956 – Elvis Presley appears on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time.
- 1969 – In Canada, the Official Languages Act comes into force, making French equal to English throughout the Federal government.
- 1971 – The four-day Attica Prison riot begins, eventually resulting in 39 dead, most killed by state troopers retaking the prison.
Here’s a short BBC video reporting on that famous riot:
- 2015 – Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch of the United Kingdom.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1585 – Cardinal Richelieu, French cardinal and politician (d. 1642)
- 1754 – William Bligh, English admiral and politician, 4th Governor of New South Wales (d. 1817)
- 1828 – Leo Tolstoy, Russian author and playwright (d. 1910)
Here’s Tolstoy in 1897, 19 years after he published Anna Karenina:
- 1890 – Colonel Sanders, American businessman, founded KFC (d. 1980)
- 1960 – Hugh Grant, English actor and producer
- 1980 – Michelle Williams, American actress
Those who succumbed on September 9 include:
- 1815 – John Singleton Copley, American-English colonial and painter (b. 1738)
- 1901 – Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, French painter and illustrator (b. 1864)
- 1907 – Ernest Wilberforce, English bishop (b. 1840)
- 1985 – Paul Flory, American chemist and engineer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1910)
- 1999 – Catfish Hunter, American baseball player (b. 1946)
- 2003 – Edward Teller, Hungarian-American physicist and academic (b. 1908)
Here’s Copley’s The Boy with the Squirrel (1765), portraying Henry Pelham and a flying squirrel:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is enigmatic, and Malgorzata must explain:
When you can’t understand how people can have different opinions about something you are deeply convinced about, you think that people holding this different opinion must in some way be abnormal and only your attitude is normal. That’s exactly what Hili is announcing. Because this phenomenon is so prevalent among people, Andrzej replies that her feeling is normal (i.e., people do have such feelings). Hili, who thought she was absolutely exceptional (and really the only normal creature in the world) is displeased and she announces that such “normality” is strange.Hili: Sometimes I have a feeling that I alone am normal.A: That’s normal.Hili: Strange normality.
Hili: Czasem mam wrażenie, że tylko ja jestem normalna.Ja: To normalne.Hili: Dziwna normalność.
Reader Charles sent me a link to this pro-Trump mask for sale on etsy from a site called “Freedom Unmasked”. Only nine bucks, but somehow I think the medium is not the message. Will it sell (click photo in the unlikely event you want to buy it):
From Bad Cat Clothing:
A lovely squee from Jesus of the Day:
I retweeted this, but Matthew sent me the original tweet:
Evolved beetle 1, intelligently designed beetle 0 https://t.co/gZB3jVtKOQ
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) September 8, 2020
Titania goes after more mishigas:
Thank you @tedxlondon for taking this brave stance. 👏👊
However, I worry that “womxn” still too obviously resembles the offensive word “women”.
From now on, please use “wxxxn”, “menstruators” or “unmale”.
THIS is how we’ll defeat misogyny. ✊ https://t.co/yYmO4EGENC
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) September 8, 2020
From Barry. Now this is quite amazing:
It’s the stuff of nightmares. This hermit crab has a dolls head for a house.
— Bernie'sTweets (@berniespofforth) September 8, 2020
From Simon, referring to our parlous times:
Speaker: “I’d appreciate it if everyone turns on their webcams, it’s nicer to see the faces of the people I’m talking to”
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) September 7, 2020
Tweets from Matthew. The first one is the most ignominious end I can imagine. What do they say in your obituary?
— RobG (@robgrew) September 8, 2020
Beautiful footage of a pod of orcas, even though I’m lukewarm towards them because they eat seals and penguins.
Two minutes of aerial footage from what was an incredible all-day encounter with the 27s #Orca pod here in #Shetland last week. Wonderful to watch, film and photograph. @Seasaver @TheOrcaProject @Britnatureguide @kasmunro @whalesorg @PromoteShetland @kazcustard @BDMLROrcaAware pic.twitter.com/FEYZk2Oc36
— Hugh Harrop Wildlife (@HughHarrop) July 7, 2020
Don’t know about beeflies? Read here.
— iNaturalist (@inaturalist) September 8, 2020
One wonders what the “recent events” were. One wonders even more how geese are able to read the sign:
Following recent events, a polite reminder for all our users: pic.twitter.com/iMWZ2fe49O
— RHUL Library (@RHUL_Library) September 7, 2020
A persistent dung beetle. One imagines that Sisyphus is unhappy. . .
— Enrico RUZZIER (@EnricoRuzzier) September 7, 2020