It’s Thursday, October 22, 2020, and National Nut Day, a holiday that could have been named after Donald Trump. It’s also Eat a Pretzel Day, INTERNATIONAL CAPS LOCK DAY, Wombat Day, and Fechner Day, celebrating the psychophysicist Gustav Fechner.
News of the Day: The Amazing Randi—James Randi—died on Tuesday at 92. Many of us knew him or met him (me included) and it’s a sad loss for skepticism, magic, and humanity. There’s a long obituary at the New York Times. (h/t Ginger K)
This is from the Independent, and I tweeted the link. (h/t Luana)
A Muslim man who lived in Germany for 13 yrs was denied citizenship at the last moment when he wouldn't shake the hand of the woman giving him the award. The courts upheld the decision as the gesture was considered a rejection of cultural integration. https://t.co/8agltrqRKk
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) October 21, 2020
Pope Francis has voiced approval for same-sex civil unions, though he didn’t say anything about same-sex marriages in the Catholic Church. I applaud this, of course, but I wonder how pious Catholics will comport this with the official Vatican view that “Homosexual acts are, according to the catechism, ‘intrinsically disordered’ and ‘contrary to natural law.'” Not confessing such acts is considered, as I recall a “grave sin” that can send you to Hell. Is the Pope approving a union that involves disordered acts? And do partners in civil marriages have to repeatedly confess their grave sins? Inquiring minds want to know.
President Trump walked off a “60 Minutes” interview with Lesley Stahl, and has started going after her (see below). I chatted with Stahl at the “Kent Presents” meeting a couple of years ago as we drove back to our hotel in a limo, and I asked her how she was going to interview Henry Kissinger at the meeting the next day. She told me she was not going to throw him softball questions. I expect she didn’t do that to Trump, either. That, of course, would piss off the President. Stahl is an excellent, hard-nosed reporter. I hope CBS airs the incomplete interview.
…Everyone should compare this terrible Electoral Intrusion with the recent interviews of Sleepy Joe Biden!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 20, 2020
Musician Spencer Davis died on Monday at 81.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 222,157, an increase of about 1,200 over yesterday. The world death toll is 1,137,190, a big increase of about 6,700 over yesterday’s report.
Stuff that happened on October 22 include:
- 1721 – Russian Empire is proclaimed by Tsar Peter I after the Swedish defeat in the Great Northern War.
- 1746 – The College of New Jersey (later renamed Princeton University) receives its charter.
- 1844 – Millerites, followers of Baptist preacher William Miller anticipate the end of the world in conjunction with the Second Advent of Christ. The following day became known as the Great Disappointment.
The Great Disappointment exemplifies the cognitive dissonance of the deluded. After Jesus didn’t come, Millerites (some of whom had given up all their possessions in anticipation), said, no, really what had happened was that Jesus was beginning to cleanse the world in anticipation of the Second Coming. Well, we’re still waiting.
- 1879 – Using a filament of carbonized thread, Thomas Edison tests the first practical electric incandescent light bulb (it lasts 131⁄2 hours before burning out).
- 1883 – The Metropolitan Opera House in New York City opens with a performance of Gounod’s Faust.
- 1884 – The International Meridian Conference designates the Royal Observatory, Greenwich as the world’s prime meridian.
Here’s Philomena at Greenwich, and you can see her at the Meridian at 1:44. What is clocks?:
- 1895 – In Paris an express train derails after overrunning the buffer stop, crossing almost 30 metres (100 ft) of concourse before crashing through a wall and falling 10 metres (33 ft) to the road below.
Surprisingly, only one person was killed by this accident: a woman on the street who was crushed by falling masonry. It took several days to get the locomotive removed, so there are lots of pictures of this.
- 1934 – In East Liverpool, Ohio, FBI agents shoot and kill notorious bank robber Pretty Boy Floyd.
Here’s a short video about Pretty Boy Floyd, who wasn’t all that pretty!
- 1962 – Cuban Missile Crisis: President Kennedy, after internal counsel from Dwight D. Eisenhower, announces that American reconnaissance planes have discovered Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba, and that he has ordered a naval “quarantine” of the Communist nation.
- 1964 – Jean-Paul Sartre is awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, but turns down the honor.
- 1976 – Red Dye No. 4 is banned by the US Food and Drug Administration after it is discovered that it causes tumors in the bladders of dogs.
- 1983 – Two correctional officers are killed by inmates at the United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois. The incident inspires the Supermax model of prisons.
- 2019 – Same-sex marriage is legalised, and abortion is decriminalised in Northern Ireland as a result of the Northern Ireland Assembly not being restored.
I’m sad that Grania wasn’t alive to see this. It would have been great to see her celebrate.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1811 – Franz Liszt, Hungarian pianist and composer (d. 1886)
- 1844 – Sarah Bernhardt, French actress and manager (d. 1923)
- 1870 – Lord Alfred Douglas, English author and poet (d. 1945)
Here’s Bosie (Douglas’s nickname) and his lover, Oscar Wilde. They had a fraught relationship, to say the least:
Reed died of typhus in Russia, but was so revered by the Soviets that his body was interred in the Kremlin. He’s one of only three Americans buried there; can you name the other two? Here’s Reed’s body lying in State in Moscow:
Beadle, who was President of the University of Chicago from 1961-1968 (troubled times for colleges), won the Nobel Prize with Edward Tatum for their work on Neurospora, leading to the “one gene-one enzyme hypothesis.” He’s the only geneticist I know who was President of a major university. Here’s Beadle (left) with another Laureate Linus Pauling:
- 1903 – Curly Howard, American comedian and vaudevillian (d. 1952)
Yes, THE Curly, born Jerome Lester Horwitz and the brother of Moe and Shemp.
Here’s one of Capa’s most famous photos, shot on D-Day, with soldiers crawling ashore on June 6, 1944. Ten years later Capa died in Vietnam after stepping on a land mine:
- 1920 – Timothy Leary, American psychologist and author (d. 1996)
- 1942 – Annette Funicello, American actress and singer (d. 2013)
Annette was the first love of many of us prepubescent boys, and was the highlight of the Mickey Mouse Club. Here she is at 14. I must have been 7 or 8 years old when I was enamored of her:
- 1946 – Deepak Chopra, Indian-American physician and author
Those who shuffled off this mortal coil on October 22 include:
- 1906 – Paul Cézanne, French painter (b. 1839)
- 1934 – Pretty Boy Floyd, American gangster (b. 1904) [see above]
- 1973 – Pablo Casals, Catalan cellist and conductor (b. 1876)
- 1995 – Kingsley Amis, English novelist, poet, critic (b. 1922)
- 2009 – Soupy Sales, American comedian and actor (b. 1926)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Malgorzata are about to retire:
Małgorzata: Time to end the day. It’s very late.Hili: Don’t switch off the light. I sleep best when it’s on.
Małgorzata: Trzeba już kończyć, jest bardzo późno.Hili: Nie gaś jeszcze światła, Tak mi się najlepiej śpi.
And Kulka is climbing on the veranda again:
Szaron and Hili, socially distanced:
. . . and Szaron:
A meme from Bruce:
From Jesus of the Day:
Also from Jesus of the Day:
From Titania. I’m guessing this is a real list, as I can’t imagine Andrew Doyle making it up:
As it’s #PronounsDay, I’m reposting my list of pronouns that you MUST learn.
If you don’t know them all, you’re literally a fascist. pic.twitter.com/4PeWZjs1kv
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) October 21, 2020
Several readers (all of them Brits who send that they weren’t conservative) sent me a version of this video tweet. The speaker is a Tory, Kemi Badenoch (UK Treasury & Equalities Minister) speaking in Parliament on Critical Race Theory and Black Lives Matter:
— Andrew Doyle (@andrewdoyle_com) October 20, 2020
From Barry, who says, “Fun tweet from Sarah Cooper. It has nothing to do with Trump and features your favorite animal (after cats, of course)”. These are Indian runner ducks being let loose in a field to eat pests, and it is NOT awful!
This reboot of World War Z looks awful pic.twitter.com/bsSlzJZxmp
— Sarah Cooper (@sarahcpr) October 20, 2020
Another duck tweet, which I found when Matthew sent me the one below it. This is a call duck.
Sleepiest duck you'll see today. pic.twitter.com/K2wIs7j2yN
— Dick King-Smith HQ (@DickKingSmith) October 21, 2020
And tweets from Matthew. First, another sleeping duck:
Best way to get a duck to sleep is to read to her… pic.twitter.com/QRGaV2ROAN
— The Smiling Sheep (@GwenogFlock) October 21, 2020
And a two-headed snake. I understand that some of these can live for a very long time. Studying their behavior must be fascinating.
A rare two-headed southern black racer. This phenomenon, termed bicephaly, is uncommon but happens during embryo development when two monozygotic twins failed to separate, leaving the heads conjoined onto a single body.📸Jonathan Mays via FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute pic.twitter.com/kb9bkJRprb
— Sofía Martínez-Villalpando (@sofiabiologista) October 21, 2020
I retweeted this one, which went through several hands, because I wanted to add how amazing it is that natural selection, acting on the tiny brain of a larva, can make it prompt such a complex behavior:
Natural selection did this. https://t.co/2wfRFUWSEF
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) October 21, 2020
Look at those pincers!
Giant Chinese Dobson fly, considered the largest aquatic insect in the world. Southern China and Northern Vietnam. Evolutionarily older than dragonflies. 📸 Cosmo Vitelli pic.twitter.com/jCyFY7N2Jl
— Sofía Martínez-Villalpando (@sofiabiologista) October 20, 2020