Top of the morning to you (or bottom, if you’re a late riser): it’s Tuesday, October 27, 2020: both National Potato Day and National American Beer Day. It might as well be called National Carb Day. I remember when a doctor told the corpulent father of one of my friends that he had to give up either beer or potatoes, and it was a hard choice (the patient was a Brit). It’s also National Black Cat Day, Boxer Shorts Day, Sylvia Plath Day, celebrating the poet’s birthday in 1932, and World Day for Audiovisual Heritage.
One week from today I again get gutted like a sturgeon, as the hernia “fixed” last year has recurred. My surgeon says that in his entire career this has never happened to him. Lucky me: a medical anomaly! Posting may be light for a day or two after they gut me (they won’t know if it’s laparascopy or slicing until they go in).
Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) celebrates Stamen Grigorov, described by Wikipedia as “a prominent Bulgarian physician, hero, and microbiologist. He discovered the Lactobacillus bulgaricus bacillus, which is the true cause for the existence of natural yogurt.” Apparently you can’t get real Bulgarian yogurt, made from a strain found only in that country, in Bulgaria, and I have had it there!
Grigorov, contributed to medical advances as well. Here’s the great man. Why do they always tout “Greek yogurt” when they could tout “Bulgarian yogurt” (if they could make it here)?
News of the Day: As expected, the Senate voted, strictly along party lines, to confirm Jesus-loving Amy Coney Barrett as a Supreme Court justice. It was the most politically polarized Supreme Court appointment in history (there hasn’t been a Justice confirmed without a single vote of the minority party in 151 years), and now we’re royally screwed. The vote was 52-48, with Susan Collins (R-Maine). She was sworn in at the White House by the Silent Judge, chowderhead Clarence Thomas (where was Roberts?), and will have another swearing-in at the Court itself.
The New York Times has a series of editorials about how to fix the courts (packing them, term limits, do nothing, etc.), and the editorial board itself has a nice take called “The Republican Party’s Supreme Court.”
The first Asian giant hornet nest in the U.S. has been located and destroyed—in Washington State. (This hornet kicks off my chapter on natural selection in Why Evolution is True.). The danger is that they’ll destroy American honeybees, just as they destroy introduced (but not native) honeybee nests in Asia. Here’s a video: look at the containment suits they had to wear!
Yes, NASA has announced that there’s water on the Moon. Well, we knew there was ice at the lunar poles, but now frozen water appears to be more widely distributed. The molecules were detected by observing a wavelength of infrared light (6 microns) emitted by water. Water on the moon, if plentiful, might be useful for astronauts, so it wouldn’t have to be packed on lunar trips, and might also serve as a source of oxygen to breathe and hydrogen for fuel.
The NYT also has its annual and poignant series of short profiles of those who died this year “Those we’ve lost“. The feature usually appears at the end of the year, but this one is about those killed by the virus. (Still, it shouldn’t be in October; there are more deaths to come. . . )
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 225,692, an increase of about 540 from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,165,289, an increase of about 5,500 over yesterday’s report.
Stuff that happened on October 27 includes:
- 939 – Æthelstan, the first king of all England, dies and is succeeded by his half-brother, Edmund I.
- 1838 – Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs issues the Extermination Order, which orders all Mormons to leave the state or be killed.
- 1904 – The first underground New York City Subway line opens, later designated as the IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line.
- 1936 – Mrs Wallis Simpson obtains her divorce, which would eventually allow her to marry King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom, thus forcing his abdication from the throne.
Those readers who defend the monarchy: how can you justify making the King abdicate for marrying whom he chooses? At any rate, here are the lovebirds with Nixon in 1970:
- 1954 – Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. becomes the first African-American general in the United States Air Force.
Davis’s dad, the “Sr.”, was also the first African-American general in the U.S. Army. Here’s Davis fils, who was also a Tuskegee Airman:
- 1962 – By refusing to agree to the firing of a nuclear torpedo at a US warship, Vasily Arkhipov averts nuclear war.
- 1967 – Catholic priest Philip Berrigan and others of the ‘Baltimore Four’ protest the Vietnam War by pouring blood on Selective Service records.
- 2004 – The Boston Red Sox defeat the St. Louis Cardinals to win their first World Series in 86 years.
- 2018 – A gunman opens fire on a Pittsburgh synagogue killing 11 and injuring 6, including 4 police officers.
- 2019 – Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant founder and leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi kills himself and three children by detonating a suicide vest during the U.S. military Barisha raid in northwestern Syria.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1782 – Niccolò Paganini, Italian violinist and composer (d. 1840)
- 1811 – Isaac Singer, American actor and businessman, founded the Singer Corporation (d. 1875)
- 1858 – Theodore Roosevelt, American colonel and politician, 26th President of the United States, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1919)
- 1914 – Dylan Thomas, Welsh poet and playwright (d. 1953)
Thomas is one of my favorite poets though it seems few bother to read him these days. Here he is:
- 1923 – Roy Lichtenstein, American painter and sculptor (d. 1997)
- 1932 – Sylvia Plath, American poet, novelist, and short story writer (d. 1963) [see above]
Plath is another poet I like. Like many versifiers, she was a depressive, and killed herself at 30.
- 1972 – Evan Coyne Maloney, American director, producer, and screenwriter.
I don’t know this dude, but maybe he’s a relative.
Those who went to the Great Beyond on October 27 include:
- 939 – Æthelstan, English king (b. 894) [see above]
- 1605 – Akbar, Mughal emperor (b. 1542)
- 1927 – Squizzy Taylor, Australian gangster (b. 1888)
Squizzy was an Australian gangaster who met a violent end. I don’t know much about him but I love the name “Squizzy” (his real name was Joseph).
Squizzy on a release from prison three years before he died:
- 1968 – Lise Meitner, Austrian-English physicist and academic (b. 1878)
Meitner and Otto Frisch discovered the phenomenon of nuclear fission. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize a total of 48 times, but never won. She should have!
- 2013 – Lou Reed, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, and actor (b. 1942)
- 2019 – Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL); suicide (b. 1971) [see above]
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is birdwatching
Hili: We are all ignorant.A; That’s true, but what do you mean by that?Hili: That I don’t know what bird that is.
Hili: Wszyscy jesteśmy ignorantami.Ja: To prawda, ale co chcesz przez to powiedzieć.Hili: Że nie wiem co to za ptaszek.
Here’s baby Kulka—no longer a baby, really—with an apple:
From Charles: a banana Ganesha—an edible version of everyone’s favorite Hindu god. Here’s what Charles says:
Sambalpur village in the state of Odisha used bananas and bamboo to create this idol of Ganesha. After the festivities, the fruit will ripen and be distributed among the poor. Growing environmental concerns have led to the creation of eco-friendly idols. Photo from 2017.
From Jesus of the Day. What’s most worrisome is the 30% plutonium!
From Cats in Art: Again an ancient cat drawing with a human face (16th century):
From Ken. I really don’t blame the landlord:
Wow here is a mood: pic.twitter.com/6BaW7Mb4ED
— Kristin Garth (@lolaandjolie) July 29, 2020
From Simon. I recently posted birds playing basketball, but these are into volleyball:
Not novel. A recent study of birds playing basketball scooped them. pic.twitter.com/hie3sYLhBD
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) October 25, 2020
From Barry, a serendipitous photo. Feel free to provide a caption below:
Feel free to caption this mage… pic.twitter.com/jBYxGZOQNU
— DiamondLynne (@DiamondLynne1) October 23, 2020
And tweets from Matthew. Another parrot/parakeet (I don’t know the difference). But turn the sound up on this one:
Me reading Twitter 🔊
📹: Imgur user HomWapko pic.twitter.com/3ek0ZiTlc4
— Paul Bronks (@SlenderSherbet) October 26, 2020
Winter is the best of these seasons! The second tweet is lagniappe, except I don’t like the purpose of bird identification in that book.
— jeff gramm (@jeff_gramm) October 24, 2020
I don’t get why some people don’t realize that, in this respect, a cup and a spoon are topologically identical:
This graph won’t teach you much about holes or household objects, but it’s a pretty awesome clinic in human thought. You can pluck from the shelf any blessed thing we say, or think, or do, and every time you’ll find a new little mystery novel, pages uncut. https://t.co/FdLFFckLHd
— Fiery Cushman (@fierycushman) October 26, 2020
I want to know whether this cat was really relocating its bed to a more salubrious location.
Powerless to resist, this cat bed was horrified to suddenly find itself mercilessly dragged away from its usual spot and facing an uncertain future on the other side of the room. pic.twitter.com/1EiwuDioUh
— Dick King-Smith HQ (@DickKingSmith) January 11, 2018
Crikey, I wish that Botany Pond attracted so many kinds of waterfowl. (Remember that there was a mandarin duck there last year?)
YAY!!! The best duck has arrived in Central Park: Buffleheads! This warrants celebration!😃 pic.twitter.com/IihNFLdrzK
— Gloria (@Lucent508) October 26, 2020