Another week is almost done: it’s Friday, November 13, 2020: an unlucky Friday the Thirteenth. But it’s also National Indian Pudding Day, one of the best desserts in the world. Earthy, grainy, and robust, it’s well worth seeking out, though you won’t find it if you’re far outside of Boston. If you haven’t had it, you’re deprived (warning: many people don’t understand the dish as they have asbestos taste buds.)
The recipe is easy but the cooking time long. Here’s the recipe for the best version I’ve had, at the late, lamented restaurant Durgin-Park in Boston. Below is a photo of the restaurant’s version (the warm pudding demands to be topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream). I was devastated when the restaurant closed, as there was never a time I visited, no matter how much I ate for dinner, when I eschewed the Indian pudding.
It’s also Sadie Hawkins Day, started from the comic strip Li’l Abner, in which women are supposed to ask men out. That would be fine, but if you read the link, you’ll see it has a sexist history, beginning with this cartoon:
And, finally, it’s World Kindness Day.
News of the Day:
CNN has projected that Biden carried Arizona. It was a squeaker: Biden’s margin was only 11,000 votes, but this gives him 290 electoral votes, well over the 270-vote winning threshold. Since Georgia is in all likelihood going for Biden too (but North Carolina is a probable Trump state), that would give Biden a final 306-vote victory—exactly what I predicted soon after polls closed. Just remember that Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus) not only was the first to call the election, but called it on the nose! Show me justice!
The big news, of course, is the vicious resurgence of the pandemic, including in a once-safer state, Illinois. Chicago is now under a stay-at-home order, with our hard-ass mayor warning us against non-essential trips. Here are the daily new cases for Illinois, which hit a record yesterday with 12,788:
In Germany, pandemic weariness has evolved into pandemic resistance, with huge crowds assembling to protest Germany’s restrictions (among the least restrictive in Europe), and with Molotov cocktails and explosives being used by protestors. The protestors are loosely allied with right-wing political movements.
In other news, Franco remains dead and Trump continues to refuse conceding the election, not allowing the Biden transition team access to government offices or documents.
Barack Obama’s memoir is so weighty that it’s divided into two volumes. But the prose apparently isn’t ponderous; rather, according to the NYT’s review of the first volume—A Promised Land—by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Obama is “as fine a writer as they come.” The review makes me want to read this book, but I’ve always avoided political autobiographies. We shall see.
As the Guardian reports, Japanese erect monster robots to scare away bears in rural areas (h/t: Jez)
The Monster Wolf has four legs, a shaggy body, blond mane and red, glowing eyes. When its motion detectors are activated, it moves its head, flashes lights and emits sounds ranging from wolfish howling to machinery noises. The maker, Ohta Seiki, has sold about 70 units since 2018.
The real Japanese wolf roamed the central and northern islands of the country before being hunted to extinction more than a century ago.
Here’s a video:
Also in Japan, a 20-kilogram crate containing 100 mandarin oranges sold for a million yen, or about $9,500. That’s nearly $100 per orange! The usual price for that amount is $150 total, but these were prize specimens. Here’s a photo of the pricey fruit from CNN:
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 242,860, a big increase of about 1,200 from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,300,843, 1,290,986, a big increase of about 9,900 over yesterday’s report.
Stuff that happened on November 13 includes:
- 1841 – James Braid first sees a demonstration of animal magnetism, which leads to his study of the subject he eventually calls hypnotism.
- 1940 – Walt Disney‘s animated musical film Fantasia is first released, on the first night of a roadshow at New York’s Broadway Theatre.
Here’s the trailer for the 50th-anniversary reissue of Fantasia. I haven’t seen that movie in decades, but really should:
This automatic rifle is still used because it’s cheap, durable, and easy to use. The name stands for Avtomat Kalashnikova (‘Kalashnikov’s assault rifle’), so it’s also known as the Kalashnikov. (It was invented around WWII in Russia by Mikhail Kalashnikov. The usual magazine is 30 rounds; here’s one with a bayonet.
- 1954 – Great Britain defeats France to capture the first ever Rugby League World Cup in Paris in front of around 30,000 spectators.
- 1956 – The Supreme Court of the United States declares Alabama laws requiring segregated buses illegal, thus ending the Montgomery bus boycott.
- 1982 – The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C. after a march to its site by thousands of Vietnam War veterans.
- 2001 – War on Terror: In the first such act since World War II, US President George W. Bush signs an executive order allowing military tribunals against foreigners suspected of connections to terrorist acts or planned acts on the United States.
- 2015 – A set of coordinated terror attacks in Paris, including multiple shootings, explosions, and a hostage crisis in the 10th and 11th arrondissements kill 130 people, seven attackers, and injured 368 others, with at least 80 critically wounded
Notables born on this day include:
- 1838 – Joseph F. Smith, American religious leader, 6th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (d. 1918)
- 1881 – Jesús García, Mexican railroad brakeman (d. 1907)
García (below) saved Nacozari, Mexico, by driving a fiery train loaded with dynamite away from the town; it exploded and killed him. Here’s a photo taken days before his heroic act:
- 1924 – Motoo Kimura, Japanese biologist and geneticist (d. 1994). Kimura was the main founder of the “neutral” theory of molecular evolution, proposing that many DNA variants were identical in terms of their effect on the reproductive capacity of their carrier, and thus “neutral” (or “equivalent”) to natural selection. I met him in Toronto at a meeting and got him to autograph his famous book on the theory. My copy is shown below:
Here is Kimura with another great geneticist, Jim Crow. Together they wrote the definitive book on theoretical population genetics, An Introduction to Population Genetics Theory. I still treasure my copy, which is completely covered with my scribbles as I re-did the equations until I understood them:
Here’s my well-marked copy of the book, and then a note on the last page, commemorating the day that Don Hickey (a fellow grad student) and I finished the book. We spent a year working our way through it together.
I sat next to Kripke in 1972 in the Rockefeller University student lounge (he was faculty and I a beginning student), watching the election returns as Nixon bulldozed George McGovern (for whom I campaigned). Only Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. went for McG; it was a Nixon landslide. I remember Kripke rocking back and forth on the couch, much like an Orthodox Jew davening (Kripke, a very famous philosopher, was also the son of a rabbi).
- 1969 – Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Somalian-American activist and author
Those who became quiescent on November 13 include:
- 1903 – Camille Pissarro, Virgin Islander-French painter (b. 1830)
- 1974 – Karen Silkwood, American technician and activist (b. 1946)
Silkwood was a whistleblower about violations at the Kerr-McGee nuclear facility in Oklahoma. After being mysteriously contaminated with plutonium, she died in a mysterious car crash at 28:
- 1994 – Motoo Kimura, Japanese biologist and geneticist (b. 1924)
Kimura apparently died on his 70th birthday (see above)
- 2016 – Leon Russell, American singer-songwriter (b. 1942)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Kulka once again unsuccessfully tries to make friends with Hili:
Kulka: Hi, how are you doing?Hili: We are sleeping and we don’t expect any guests.
Kulka: Hej, co tam u was?Hili: Śpimy i nie czekamy na żadnych gości.
There’s a lot of this going around now, and I assume this one is real and not Photoshopped. From Jesus of the Day:
Also from Jesus of the Day. I did not know this!
Two tweets from Barry. The first is a koala getting a tummy rub. I think we could all use this:
Hello there! pic.twitter.com/9EKa3IC1T5
— Meriel (@MerielMyers) November 6, 2020
Nevertheless, the rodent persisted. But enough seeds were spilled that it could have a fine feast after its ride.
Get me off this thing!
"We rescue ALL animals, though dogs need us the most. But we rescue cats, bunnies, rats, snakes, small exotics, eleflumps, bears, big cats, wildlife, sea life, primates…"-@ElayneBoosler
📹IG funanimalvids pic.twitter.com/WpiBsVTp9W
— Elayne Boosler's Rescue Dog, Ralph (@BooslerS) November 12, 2020
Tweets from Matthew. I saw these ducks in Hyde Park last week, but they were far away and didn’t show any of this cool behavior (for a cool video, see here):
Dating in NYC for a Male Hooded Merganser, involves head-tipping, neck-stretching, body dipping to woo the ladies at The Reservoir in Central Park. Accordion neck is sexy!!😆 Things got a little bit testy as the males competed for female attention. An absolute joy a watch!❤ pic.twitter.com/vXFIh4RWoo
— Gloria (@Lucent508) November 11, 2020
One of Matthew’s beloved optical illusions.
The hair of the left image appears to be whitish, though the color is the same gray as that of the right image. pic.twitter.com/2wvNMrsqeE
— Akiyoshi Kitaoka (@AkiyoshiKitaoka) November 12, 2020
Leta Powell Drake’s Wikipedia page says that she works as “a broadcaster, television producer, screenwriter and television personality on local stations in Nebraska.”
Currently obsessed with Leta Powell Drake, the greatest interviewer of all time. pic.twitter.com/3oCYAd9vZD
— John Frankensteiner (@JFrankensteiner) November 12, 2020
Really nice illusion. Is it George Orwell?
Amazing. 👌 pic.twitter.com/SLk7belX8v
— Robert De Niro ᵖᵃʳᵒᵈʸ (@RobertDeNiroUS) November 12, 2020
This video links to a New Scientist article with free access, and a remarkable video of the wasp hunting by immersing itself fully in water:
— Rowan Hooper ローワン フーパー (@rowhoop) November 12, 2020
Matthew is joking, of course:
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) November 11, 2020