It’s Ceiling Cat’s Day: September 13, 2020. Remember, cats weren’t made for the Sabbath; the Sabbath was made for cats. It’s National Peanut Day, as well as International Chocolate Day, Snack a Pickle Day, Bald is Beautiful Day, National Defy Superstition Day, and, in Africa, the UK, and Latin America, Roald Dahl Day. It’s also Fortune Cookie Day. My last fortune:
I didn’t sleep a wink last night—for the first time in ages. My sleep’s been pretty disturbed during the pandemic (I’m not quite sure why), but this was pretty debilitating. Posting may be light today.
Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) honors Terry Fox (1958-1981), the man who, with a leg amputated because of osteosarcoma, decided to run across Canada on a prosthetic leg to raise money for and awareness of cancer research. He ran for 143 days and made 5,373 kilometres (3,339 mi) before he had to stop because the cancer recurred. He died at 22. It was on this day in 1981 that his family honored him by creating the Terry Fox Run to raise money for cancer.
Fox running through Toronto:
News of the Day: Peace talks have begun in Qatar between the Afghan government and the Taliban. It’s been a long fight, with the U.S. in the middle, but last night on the news a spokesman for the Taliban said that their aim is to install an Islamic government in the country, and if they don’t get one they’ll keep fighting. Just what we need, another Muslim theocracy in the Middle East.
As you know, the west coast of the U.S.. is burning up. Reader Tom sent a picture and an explanation:
As if the Pacific Northwest hadn’t had enough to deal with. This is a photo taken by my sister of the skies at noon today [Saturday] over Walla Walla, Washington. That’s the sun at upper center. She and the rest of the Palouse are quarantined in their homes—not from disease but bad air, categorized as officially Hazardous due to the fires afflicting Oregon and central Washington. My sister has to wear a N95 mask just to pick tomatoes from her garden.
The New York Times article below paints a very grim picture of college reopenings. And if we don’t have a vaccine by next spring, colleges might as well tell their students not to come back after Thanksgiving. An excerpt:
A New York Times review last weekend of 203 “college town” counties where students comprise at least 10 percent of the population found that about half had experienced their worst weeks of the pandemic as students returned in August, and about half of those were experiencing peak infections this month.
Editorializing in the news. The first screenshot is from the NYT’s report; the second from the Washington Post. But don’t worry; the Post will catch up. (Click on screenshots.)
Films: The NYT has a list of the “50 best movies on Netflix right now.” At first I was going to skip reading it, but I’m a sucker for “best of” lists, and this is actually a very good one—at least judging from the films I’ve seen. I was particularly chuffed to see one of my favorite foreign films, Y Tu Mamá También, on the list, and you should definitely see it if you haven’t. The two I want to watch are “Roma” and “Marriage Story.”
A note from reader Andy, a book report showing that barbecue is important but not essential in the struggle for freedom:
This is from David Rubenstein’s new book, The American Story: Conversations with Master Historians.
From his interview of Taylor Branch, Martin Luther King’s biographer and chronicler of the civil rights movement:
Rubenstein: Was King influenced by Mahatma Gandhi?
Taylor Branch: He was influenced by Gandhi, but then he went over to India in 1959 to study the Gandhians and came back saying, “They fast all the time. We can never do that in America. Those Indians haven’t eaten barbecue.”
After a short pause due to one participant who became ill, phase 3 trials have resumed in the UK for the Oxford AstraZenica covid-19 vaccine. It’s not clear, though, whether trials will resume elsewhere, nor why there’s this disparity among countries.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 193,551, an increase of about 700 deaths over yesterday’s report. The world death toll now stands at 919,772, an increase of about 6,000 deaths from yesterday. And we’re approaching a million deaths worldwide.
Stuff that happened on September 13 include:
- 1501 – Italian Renaissance: Michelangelo begins work on his statue of David.
- 1541 – After three years of exile, John Calvin returns to Geneva to reform the church under a body of doctrine known as Calvinism.
- 1609 – Henry Hudson reaches the river that would later be named after him – the Hudson River.
- 1788 – The Philadelphia Convention sets the date for the first presidential election in the United States, and New York City becomes the country’s temporary capital.
- 1814 – In a turning point in the War of 1812, the British fail to capture Baltimore. During the battle, Francis Scott Key composes his poem “Defence of Fort McHenry”, which is later set to music and becomes the United States’ national anthem.
- 1848 – Vermont railroad worker Phineas Gage survives an iron rod 1 1⁄4 inches (3.2 cm) in diameter being driven through his brain; the reported effects on his behavior and personality stimulate discussion of the nature of the brain and its functions.
Here’s Gage’s skull, preserved, along with the rod that went through his eye and skull, in the Warren Museum in Philadelphia:
Gage is a case study in the medical literature not only because of his survival, but because his personality changed after he was impaled. Here he is with his iron rod a year after the accident. He died in 1860 at 36:
- 1898 – Hannibal Goodwin patents celluloid photographic film.
- 1899 –Henry Bliss is the first person in the United States to be killed in an automobile accident.
Bliss, below, was hit by an electric taxicab while getting off a streetcar. He fell to the ground and his skull and chest were crushed. Here’s the poor guy: the first automobile fatality in history:
- 1948 – Margaret Chase Smith is elected United States senator, and becomes the first woman to serve in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the United States Senate.
- 1962 – An appeals court orders the University of Mississippi to admit James Meredith, the first African-American student admitted to the segregated university.
Here’s the brave Meredith enrolling in school, with a little help from the feds:
- 1971 – State police and National Guardsmen storm New York’s Attica Prison to quell a prison revolt, which claimed 43 lives.
- 1993 – Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shakes hands with Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat at the White House after signing the Oslo Accords granting limited Palestinian autonomy.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1819 – Clara Schumann, German pianist and composer (d. 1896)
- 1851 – Walter Reed, American physician and biologist (d. 1902)
Reed built on earlier work to show that yellow fever was carried by a mosquito vector: the genus Aedes. He did not win the Nobel Prize. Here’s a photo of him as an older man (he died at 51 of appendicitis):
- 1860 – John J. Pershing, American general and lawyer (d. 1948)
- 1874 – Arnold Schoenberg, Austrian composer and painter (d. 1951)
- 1903 – Claudette Colbert, French-American actress (d. 1996)
- 1918 – Ray Charles, American singer-songwriter and conductor (d. 2015)
- 1956 – Alain Ducasse, French-Monégasque chef
Those who called it a life on September 13 include:
- 1872 – Ludwig Feuerbach, German anthropologist and philosopher (b. 1804)
- 1944 – W. Heath Robinson, English cartoonist (b. 1872)
- 1946 – Amon Göth, Austrian captain (b. 1908)
Göth was the head of the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp , and was hanged for his crimes on this day in 1946, after the gallows malfunctioned twice (you can see the video of the hanging on YouTube). Göth was played by Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List, and you may remember him taking potshots at the prisoners from his balcony, something that really happened. Here are his mugshots:
- 1996 – Tupac Shakur, American rapper, producer, and actor (b. 1971)
- 1998 – George Wallace, American sergeant, lawyer, and politician, 45th Governor of Alabama (b. 1919)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has insinuated herself into the staff’s bed, but this time on Andrzej’s spot instead of her usual spot: on Malgorzata’s pillow.
Hili: Are you sure you want to sleep here as well?A: Of course.Hili: Lie down in a way that does not disturb me.
Hili: Czy jesteś pewien, że ty też chcesz tu spać?
Ja: Oczywiście.Hili: Połóż się tak. żeby mi nie przeszkadzać.
Here’s little Kulka in a basket, with Szaron in the other room:
From Jesus of the Day:
From Bad Cat Clothing (I may have posted this before):
Titania vs. manspreaders:
These anti-manspreading chairs are all very well, but surely widespread castration would be more cost-effective? https://t.co/aufqcvK9LS
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) September 12, 2020
From reader Barry we have a randy elephant (sound up):
This elephant knows what it wants 😂😂
— Simon BRFC Hopkins (@HopkinsBRFC) September 12, 2020
Three tweets from Paul Bronks. First, the famous disappearing cow:
"and like that…. he's gone"
📹: Imgur user Pedrica1 pic.twitter.com/AJesVvuqAD
— Paul Bronks (@SlenderSherbet) September 8, 2020
Reluctant cygnets (they’re just like ducklings):
. . . and a playful penguin:
It's not the weekend without an African penguin chasing a sandpiper around the beach. 🔊
📹: Imgur user unnaturalorder pic.twitter.com/v6BTJ2UW2P
— Paul Bronks (@SlenderSherbet) September 5, 2020
Three tweets from Matthew. First, a dead-easy goal gets muffed:
Meanwhile in Belgium….
— Ross Dyer (@RossDyerTV) September 12, 2020
A lovely time lapse; I had no idea lenticular clouds could remain so stationary:
Out of this world #timelapse of a lenticular cloud.
Yes, this is real. 👽🛸
Captured by: Bartosz Wojczyński (photographer)
Mount Teide, Canary Islands.pic.twitter.com/JNP2ZuWVi0
— Scott Duncan (@ScottDuncanWX) September 12, 2020
It’s sobering to think that this girl is now dead (that was the first thing I thought, which shows how morbid I am):
108 years ago, in the October light of 1912, this stunningly evocative portrait was taken in Nottinghamshire of a young girl named Audrey Green, which I have restored for you today. It was taken by budding amateur photographer Stephen Pegler & is original colour (not colourised). pic.twitter.com/CuTr51hbrb
— BabelColour 🎞 (@StuartHumphryes) September 12, 2020