Good morning on the Cruelest Day: Tuesday, October 20, 2020: National Brandied Fruit Day and National Eggo Day. (If you don’t know what an Eggo is, go here). It’s also International Chefs Day, the Birth of the Bab (see below), and World Statistics Day.
Here’s a statistic to celebrate the day: the average height of the American male is 5 feet, 9.3 inches (176 cm), and of American women is 5 feet, 3.7 inches (160 cm). That makes me, at about 5’8″, a shorty.
News of the Day: This is a pretty funny article about words that were censored (by software filters) in the discussion sessions of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology online meetings. Those words include “bone,” for chrissake (it’s also American slang for “to copulate”), but also “penetrate,” “stream,” “knob”, “crack”, and “sex”. Hard to have a fossil meeting without some of those words!
Trump rarely surprises me any more with his rudeness and mendacity, but his latest trashing of Anthony Fauci is beyond the pale. He could only wish he had the integrity and self-control of Fauci. From CNN:
Referring to Fauci and other health officials as “idiots,” Trump declared the country ready to move on from the health disaster, even as cases are again spiking and medical experts warn the worst may be yet to come.
Baselessly claiming that if Fauci was in charge more than half a million people would be dead in the United States, Trump portrayed the recommendations offered by his own administration to mitigate spread of the disease as a burdensome annoyance.
“People are tired of Covid. have the biggest rallies I’ve ever had, and we have Covid,” Trump said, phoning into a call with campaign staff from his namesake hotel in Las Vegas, where he spent two nights amid a western campaign swing. “People are saying whatever. Just leave us alone. They’re tired of it. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots.”
“Fauci is a nice guy,” Trump went on. “He’s been here for 500 years.”
Let’s hope Trump is only here for three more months.
BTW, Microphones will be muted during part of Thursday’s Presidential debate. During each candidate’s two-minute initial response to a question, the other candidate’s mike (not “mic”) will be turned off. Do you think that will stop Trump from bloviating? I don’t think so—he’ll just yell across the stage. Trump says he consider the muting “very unfair.”
And OMG—Jeffrey Toobin? Oy gewalt! Read about it here.
How many ideological missteps can you find with this statue of Medusa holding the head of Perseus, just installed in New York as a tribute to the #MeTooMovement (yes, it was reversed in mythology, with Medusa decapitated). But the Offense Brigade is out in force after this one. Read about it at the Washington Post.
Illinois, long one of the lowest states for Covid-19 infections, is now joining nearly every other state in experiencing the dreaded “second wave” (remember when Trump said the virus would disappear in the summer)? Here are the latest Illinois data from the Chicago Sun-Times:
Stuff that happened on October 20 includes:
Here’s what we got from the French (area in white), at $15 million, or about 3¢ per acre:
- 1935 – The Long March, a mammoth retreat undertaken by the armed forces of the Chinese Communist Party a year prior, ends.
Here’s a map of the Long March (caption from Wikipedia), which lasted almost exactly a year:
- 1941 – World War II: Thousands of civilians in German-occupied Serbia are murdered in the Kragujevac massacre.
- 1944 – American general Douglas MacArthur fulfills his promise to return to the Philippines when he comes ashore during the Battle of Leyte.
- 1947 – The House Un-American Activities Committee begins its investigation into Communist infiltration of the Hollywood film industry, resulting in a blacklist that prevents some from working in the industry for years.
- 1951 – The “Johnny Bright incident” occurs during a football game between the Drake Bulldogs and Oklahoma A&M Aggies.
Bright was a nationally-ranked player for Drake, and was black. The Oklahoma players targeted him because of his race, and he was knocked unconscious three times in the first seven minutes of the game by defensive tackle Wilbanks Smith, the last hit breaking his jaw. Bright stayed in the game for a while as halfback/quarterback, and even completed a touchdown pass.
But there was a photograph showing a deliberate and grossly illegal hit; in fact, it qualifies as assault:
A six photograph sequence of the incident captured by Des Moines Register cameramen John Robinson and Don Ultang clearly showed Smith’s jaw-breaking blow was thrown well after Bright had handed the ball off to Drake fullback Gene Macomber, and was well behind the play. Robinson and Ultang had set up a camera focusing on Bright before the game after the rumors of him being targeted became too loud to ignore. They rushed the film to Des Moines as soon as Bright was knocked out of the game. Ultang said years later that they were very lucky that the incident took place when it did; they had only planned to stay through the first quarter so they could have enough time to develop the pictures before the deadline. The sequence won Robinson and Ultang the 1952 Pulitzer Prize for Photography, and eventually made it into the November 5, 1951, issue of Life.
Oklahoma refused to admit wrongdoing, and Oklahoma didn’t apologize until 2005! Smith never admitted wrongdoing, and Bright went on to a stellar career in the Canadian Football League.
Look at that hit in the last photo!
- 1973 – “Saturday Night Massacre“: United States President Richard Nixon fires U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus after they refuse to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who is finally fired by Robert Bork.
I remember this well, and once encountered Elliot Richardson on the subway in Harvard Square some years later (a handsome and public figure, he was instantly recognizable). I thanked him for his refusal to fire Cox.
- 1973 – The Sydney Opera House is opened by Elizabeth II after 14 years of construction.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1790 – Patrick Matthew. Scottish farmer and biologist (d. 1874)
In 1831, 28 years before the publication of Darwin’s Origin, Matthew published a book about wood and shipbuilding: On Naval Timber and Arboriculture. In the Appendix’s last 28 pages, Matthew proposed a theory very similar to Darwin’s theory of natural selection. You can read some excerpts here and at Wikipedia, and learn why Matthew doesn’t really get credit for natural selection. Here’s a picture of the book from Wikipedia:
It’s another day for the birth of artists and musicians:
- 1819 – Báb, Iranian religious leader, founded Bábism (d. 1850)
- 1854 – Arthur Rimbaud, French soldier and poet (d. 1891)
- 1859 – John Dewey, American psychologist and philosopher (d. 1952)
- 1874 – Charles Ives, American composer (d. 1954)
- 1885 – Jelly Roll Morton, American pianist, composer, and bandleader (Red Hot Peppers and New Orleans Rhythm Kings) (d. 1941)
- 1925 – Art Buchwald, American soldier and journalist (d. 2007)
- 1931 – Mickey Mantle, American baseball player and sportscaster (d. 1995)
- 1950 – Tom Petty, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (d. 2017)
- 1971 – Snoop Dogg, American rapper, producer, and actor
Snoop registered to vote for the first time this year—at age 48. Here he shows us how to do it online. (His real name is Calvin Cordozar Broadus.)
Those who cashed in their chips on October 20 include:
- 1890 – Richard Francis Burton, English-Italian geographer and explorer (b. 1821)
- 1926 – Eugene V. Debs, American union leader and politician (b. 1855)
- 1936 – Anne Sullivan, American educator (b. 1866)
- 1964 – Herbert Hoover, American engineer and politician, 31st President of the United States (b. 1874)
- 1983 – Merle Travis, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1917)
- 1984 – Paul Dirac, English-American physicist and mathematician, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1902)
A four-minute bio of the great but eccentric Dirac:
- 1994 – Burt Lancaster, American actor (b. 1913)
Here’s Lancaster in a very famous scene: the “beach scene” in From Here to Eternity, playing sergeant Milt Warden, who has an affair with his commanding officer’s wife, played by Deborah Kerr. This scene was considered extremely erotic for the time. The movie is well worth seeing: it also stars Frank Sinatra (in a role that was a comeback for him), Montgomery Clift, and Ernest Borgnine.
- 2011 – Muammar Gaddafi, Libyan colonel and politician, Prime Minister of Libya (b. 1942)
- 2012 – Paul Kurtz, American philosopher and academic (b. 1925)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is importuning Andrzej, but for what?
A: Is there something you want?Hili: I have to think about it.
Ja: Czy jest coś, czego chcesz?Hili: Muszę się zastanowić.
Here’s Kulka, who no longer qualifies as a “kitten”
Here’s an oldie from 2014 that I don’t think I’ve posted before. Leon went hiking, and has a monologue:
Leon: Learning the world is tiresome.
A good question from Facebook:
From Jesus of the Day:
Is this a cougar or the smaller Andean mountain cat?https://t.co/BRRgF32xlu
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) October 19, 2020
Speaking of social-media offense, Titania expresses the feelings of many:
Until Twitter can guarantee that I will never see another tweet that offends me, insults me, or challenges my opinions in any way, this platform will never be safe.
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) October 16, 2020
From Simon, a tweet from the famous Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe, once spoken of as a possible Supreme Court nominee (as you see, he’s a liberal):
Sign on Martha’s Vineyard 👇🏼 pic.twitter.com/upXDMSXV3K
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) October 18, 2020
And the rest of the tweets from the estimable Dr. Cobb. This way of sleeping seems very maladaptive for avoiding predation, but I suppose they have to rest sometime.
This event partly armed the warheads, but, thank Ceiling Cat, nothing bad happened.
The missile was taken off alert and was not returned to operational status until 76 days later. On November 4, the warhead was flown to the Atomic Energy Commission's Clarksville Modification Center 6.5 miles northwest of Clarksville, Tennessee, for a post-mortem examination. pic.twitter.com/uSTcp3wm7i
— Stephen Schwartz (@AtomicAnalyst) October 19, 2020
An amazing roadcut showing the distortion of sediments by colliding tectonic plates:
Monday's #Rocktober word is #roadcut. The favorite public works projects of geologists everywhere. This fantastic image shows the #Palmdale roadcut, with #sediments tortured by the #SanAndreasFault. See https://t.co/rrsnl6jRBM @FossilLocator pic.twitter.com/lkL03aTKKW
— rocklifter (@rocklifter) October 19, 2020
Try this with your cat and get back to me:
"you are feeling sleepy….. very, very sleepy…."
📹: Imgur user Poison365 pic.twitter.com/DBCUfp8YNI
— Paul Bronks (@SlenderSherbet) October 19, 2020
What’s the technical name for a huge mess of geckos?
GECKOS GALORE 🦎🦎 pic.twitter.com/0Bi0go0cEG
— Ellen Rykers (@ellerykr) October 19, 2020