Good morning on Thursday, November 5, 2020. I’m slowly getting back to business as my wounded belly begins to heal. Since we curtailed feeding, the duck population is way down: yesterday it was between 6 and 12 birds. I’m not sure if Honey was among them, but I’ll find out today. I hope she’s left for part south.
It’s National Chinese Take-Out Day. I prefer to eat in the restaurants, and I’ve almost never taken Chinese food home (really, almost any food). Part of the dining experience is being with other tables and seeing what they’re eating—particularly Chinese restaurants. I’ve often learned new dishes by seeing what Chinese people order in serious Chinese restaurants, asking them (they’re always hospitable), and ordering the same thing.
According to the official website for National Men Make Dinner Day, most men cook, but some don’t, feeling lost when they are in kitchens. This day is for the latter group of men to attempt to make dinner and is not directed at those men who already do cook. Being that it is a holiday about men cooking, the implication seems to be that women usually do most of the cooking. Sandy Sharkey, then a radio broadcaster in Ottawa, Canada, filed for a Canadian trademark for the holiday in 2001. She created the day so she would get a meal a day from her non-cooking husband once a year.
I’m one of the Men Who Can Cook. Overseas, it’s Guy Fawkes Night in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
News of the day: Well, you all know the election news, and when I touch up this post on Thursday morning it may be different.
NOTE: It is not different; the headline in the New York Times is the same as yesterday’s. Who would have thought that Nevada would be the linchpin here? Arizona looks reliably for Biden, Nevada is leaning Democratic but with 49.3% for Biden, 48.7% for Trump (a margin of about 7,600 votes), and Pennsylvania is bloody slow counting the ballots, which will be largely for Biden (right now it’s 50.7% for Trump, 48.1% for Biden). Biden stands a chance to win there, in which case it’s all over, but there’s a case before the Supreme court. . . . If Biden wins both Nevada and Arizona, he gets 270 electoral votes and it’s all over.
Let’s just say that Trump’s already declared himself the winner, and has lawsuits pending in at least three states trying to block counting of post-election-day ballots or other falsely declared malfeasances—a travesty of democracy. He’s asking for a recount in Wisconsin, but that depends on the margin of victory.
I’ve seen several columns saying that the fact that this election is a squeaker is a kind of victory for “Trumpism”, since it nearly won and hence wasn’t soundly rejected (one such column is here, another here, and another here). And that’s true: we’re not going to heal as a country in many years—if we ever do. What angers me is watching the news night after night and seeing people who look perfectly normal and rational say they voted for Trump because he’s going to save their jobs/keep America strong/cure the pandemic.
England and Italy begin their second lockdown Thursday, along with Poland and Lithuania. In Italy, residents of six regions will be prohibited from leaving the region, and in those area bars and restaurants will be closed. In England, according to the NYT, “stores, restaurants, pubs and other nonessential businesses must close for a month, though schools will remain open. People will be asked to stay home unless they are needed at work, or out to buy food or exercise.” These rules already hold in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. No pubs! What a bummer!
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 234,223, a big increase of about 1,600 from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,232,328, another big increase of about 10,600 over yesterday’s report. It’s a grim season.
Stuff that happened on November 5 includes:
- 1605 – Gunpowder Plot: Guy Fawkes is arrested.
- 1831 – Nat Turner, American slave leader, is tried, convicted, and sentenced to death in Virginia.
- 1872 – Women’s suffrage in the United States: In defiance of the law, suffragist Susan B. Anthony votes for the first time, and is later fined $100.
- 1912 – Woodrow Wilson is elected the 28th President of the United States, defeating incumbent William Howard Taft.
- 1917 – Lenin calls for the October Revolution.
- 1925 – Secret agent Sidney Reilly, the first “super-spy” of the 20th century, is executed by the OGPU, the secret police of the Soviet Union.
This guy, who spied for at least four different countries, has an interesting story and a long Wikipedia article. You might want to read about him:
- 1940 – Franklin D. Roosevelt is the first and only President of the United States to be elected to a third term.
- 1968 – Richard Nixon is elected as 37th President of the United States.
- 1996 – Bill Clinton is reelected President of the United States.
- 2006 – Saddam Hussein, former president of Iraq, and his co-defendants Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, are sentenced to death in the al-Dujail trial for their roles in the 1982 massacre of 148 Shi’a Muslims.
- 2009 – U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan murders 13 and wounds 32 at Fort Hood, Texas in the deadliest mass shooting at a U.S. military installation.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1855 – Eugene V. Debs, American union leader and politician (d. 1926)
Debs was arrested in 1918, for urging resistance to the draft, was imprisoned for three years, and then died in a sanatorium from a prison-related illness. Here he is speaking to a crowd in 1918.
I’ve written about Haldane before. Here’s a photo and an aerogramme he wrote to my old Ph.D. advisor Dick Lewontin, while Lewontin was at Rochester. Dick gave it to me as a graduation present from Harvard. It was in Talllahassee, mentioned in this letter, that he was diagnosed with the colon cancer that killed him.
- 1911 – Roy Rogers, American singer, guitarist, and actor (d. 1998)
- 1943 – Sam Shepard, American playwright and actor (d. 2017)
- 1960 – Tilda Swinton, English actress
Those who became ex-persons on November 5 include:
- 1879 – James Clerk Maxwell, Scottish physicist and mathematician (b. 1831)
- 1933 – Texas Guinan, American actress and businesswoman (b. 1884)
Guinan, an entertainer, was most famous for running a chain of speakeasies (illicit bars) during Prohibition:
- 1942 – George M. Cohan, American actor, singer, composer, author and theatre manager/owner (b. 1878)
Here’s a 7-minute PBS documentary on Cohan, the subject of the cheesy but wonderful film “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (1942), played by James Cagney. If I see that film on t.v., I’ll always watch it to the end.
- 1944 – Alexis Carrel, French surgeon and biologist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1873)
- 1956 – Art Tatum, American pianist and composer (b. 1909)
Tatum, a blind pianist, was one of the greatest of jazz musicians. He died of uremia at only 47. Here’s some rare live footage:
Tatum, who won the Nobel Prize with George Beadle for their “one gene/one enzyme” hypothesis. He was one of the three people who interviewed me for my admission to Rockefeller University (the other two were H. Keffer Hartline, another Nobel Laureate, and Peter Marler, an animal behaviorist). It was daunting, but I got in.
- 1975 – Lionel Trilling, American critic, essayist, short story writer, and educator (b. 1905)
- 1991 – Fred MacMurray, American actor and businessman (b. 1908)
- 2010 – Jill Clayburgh, American actress and singer (b. 1944)
- 2013 – Charlie Trotter, American chef and author (b. 1959)
I went to Trotter’s iconic Chicago restaurant twice. The first time was on my birthday, I sat at the kitchen table, and they comped us with “The Dessert Wave”: a full serving of every dessert made by the kitchen. There were over a dozen, covering the table, and we couldn’t eat more than a bite of each. A great cook, but oy, was he a tyrant in the kitchen (I got to see that). He died way too young.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili joins the large number of women protesting Poland’s new restrictions on abortion:
Hili: I’m furious.A: You are not alone.Hili: I know, we females are all furious.
Hili: Jestem wściekła.Ja: Nie ty jedna.Hili: Wiem, wszystkie jesteśmy wściekłe.
Here’s little Kulka, who’s a healthy teenage kitten. Andrzej has a caption referring to her resemblance to Hili:
Caption: This is Kulka, soon it will be difficult to distinguish them.
From Jesus of the Day:
From Nicole: a cat social-distancing in the voting line:
Titania comments on a post by Matt Breuig who is, of course, a Leftie. If these figures are right, I’m appalled—but for a different reason than the one given by Ms. McGrath:
The fact that so many people of colour won’t do what they’re told reveals the horrific extent of internalised racism in Trump’s America. https://t.co/N4Nf9RZwXM
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) November 4, 2020
Sarah Cooper AND Helen Mirren do the famous Trump/Billy Bush conversation:
How to billy bush pic.twitter.com/TDacBB2FAG
— Sarah Cooper (@sarahcpr) October 29, 2020
As reader Barry suspects, I also suspect that this dog was trained to do the whole act. Why else would the owner leave the room but film it. There’s music.
That dog is so clever😂 pic.twitter.com/LR35CizWjJ
— Ross McCulloch (@Rossmac212) November 3, 2020
Tweets from Matthew:
The mandarin duck has no idea how much he is helping today pic.twitter.com/Gg56dwTE6D
— John Grindrod (@Grindrod) November 4, 2020
Poor Matthew! But I would have done the same thing. (He started the “spot the. . . ” feature here.)
Just spent a good few minutes trying to spot the… spider/moth/whatever. Then reread the tweet – it’s basically “spot the tree”. https://t.co/QaaPq4DCzP
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) November 4, 2020
Originally from Olivia Munn. Perhaps when you read this on Thursday the tweet will be superfluous:
Here’s what we know so far. pic.twitter.com/SeLdoGig0z
— Olivia Munn (@oliviamunn) November 4, 2020
Oy! Shoot me now!
Biden is likely to win both the popular vote and the electoeal college. But Trump will lose with more than 70m votes, almost 10m more votes than he won in 2016. That shows there is a huge coalition for his type of strongman, populist politics. Trump won’t be the end of Trumpism.
— Benjamin Butterworth (@benjaminbutter) November 4, 2020
Let’s end with some good biology. I may have posted this before, but so what? Remember, this complex behavior is coded in a brain that’s the size of two grains of sand:
Epic experience watching a Sand Wasp digging a burrow, stuffing in food, then filling & hiding the hole @RSPBMinsmere #DiggerAlley yesterday. Full version https://t.co/IgBDuJ8BLJ@StevenFalk1 @Buzz_dont_tweet @RSPBEngland @Natures_Voice @BBCSpringwatch pic.twitter.com/BbVqwIANL0
— Whistling Joe (@whistling_joe) July 30, 2020