It’s Sunday, November 22, 2020: the beginning of Thanksgiving week. Appropriately, it’s National Cranberry Relish Day, but also National Cashew Day—after macadamias, the Prince of Nuts. It’s also National Humane Society Anniversary Day and Day of the Albanian Alphabet, marking the end of the meeting in 1908 when that alphabet was standardized. Here’s some Albanian:
News of the Day:
Travel writer Jan Morris died Friday at age 94, and truth be told, I didn’t know she was still alive. I enjoyed reading several of her books when I was younger, but haven’t read her since. From the NYT obituary:
Morris lived for many years with her gravestone standing in the corner of her library, the ne plus ultra of memento moris. She was an inveterate traveler but also prized her house in the Welsh village of Llanystumdwy; she wrote often about its snuggly, hyggelig qualities. Death for her may be something akin to merely being in, to borrow the words of the novelist Joshua Cohen, a bed with a lid.
“I am attracted to decline, to the melancholy spectacle of things that get old and die,” Morris told Leo Lerman in a Paris Review interview.
This resembles the monks of yore who used to sleep in their coffins.
When I was a tyke, my father liked to say to me at bedtime, “Jerry, imagine a face you’ve never seen before.” And then I’d lie awake and try to do that, but—as my dad well knew—my imagination always conjured up a face that I knew. Now, however, you can do this with a computer. The New York Times has a bunch of realistic, computer-generated AI photos of people who never existed. Here’s one example, but the article has a lot more:
There’s a vicious resurgence of coronavirus in Sweden, to the extent that they’re now requiring lockdown protocols, which nevertheless seem mild (early closing of bars, etc.) But clearly, the Swedish strategy of promoting herd immunity seems to have failed.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 255,753, an increase of about 1,400 from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,387,902, a big increase of about 8,500 over yesterday’s report.
Stuff that happened on November 22 includes:
- 1718 – Royal Navy Lieutenant Robert Maynard attacks and boards the vessels of the British pirate Edward Teach (best known as “Blackbeard“) off the coast of North Carolina. The casualties on both sides include Maynard’s first officer Mister Hyde and Teach himself.
Blackbeard is reported to have worn his beard in braids, sometimes adorned with colored ribbons. Here’s a drawing, caption from Wikipedia:
The Cutty Sark, a famous “tea clipper” who gave her name to the Scotch, is still with us, moored in Greenwich. Isn’t she a beaut?
- 1908 – The Congress of Manastir establishes the Albanian alphabet.
- 1935 – The China Clipper inaugurates the first commercial transpacific air service, connecting Alameda, California with Manila.
Here’s the plane that was used: China Clipper (NC14716), Martin model 130, passenger-carrying flying boat. The plane had to make several stops, of course, and a ticket was expensive. From Wikipedia:
The clippers were, for all practical purposes, luxury flying hotels, with sleeping accommodation, dining rooms and leisure facilities in addition to the usual aircraft seating. On early flights, the crew outnumbered the passengers. As a result, the price of a return air ticket say San Francisco to Honolulu was $1700 (equivalent to $30,000 in 2019). In comparison, a brand-new Plymouth automobile cost about $600 in the late 1930s.
- 1942 – World War II: Battle of Stalingrad: General Friedrich Paulus sends Adolf Hitler a telegram saying that the German 6th Army is surrounded.
- 1963 – U.S. President John F. Kennedy is assassinated and Texas Governor John Connally is seriously wounded by Lee Harvey Oswald, who also kills Dallas Police officer J. D. Tippit after fleeing the scene. U.S Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as the 36th President of the United States afterwards.
A famous picture of Jackie reaching to grab a Secret Service agent to haul him aboard, and then one of Johnson being sworn in aboard Air Force One:
- 1975 – Juan Carlos is declared King of Spain following the death of Francisco Franco.
- 1977 – British Airways inaugurates a regular London to New York City supersonic Concorde service.
- 1990 – British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher withdraws from the Conservative Party leadership election, confirming the end of her Prime-Ministership.
- 1995 – Toy Story is released as the first feature-length film created completely using computer-generated imagery.
- 2005 – Angela Merkel becomes the first female Chancellor of Germany.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1744 – Abigail Adams, American wife of John Adams, 2nd First Lady of the United States (d. 1818)
- 1869 – André Gide, French novelist, essayist, and dramatist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1951)
- 1890 – Charles de Gaulle, French general and politician, 18th President of France (d. 1970)
- 1898 – Wiley Post, American pilot (d. 1935)
- 1913 – Benjamin Britten, English pianist, composer, and conductor (d. 1976)
- 1917 – Andrew Huxley, English physiologist and biophysicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2012)
- 1921 – Rodney Dangerfield, American comedian, actor, rapper, and screenwriter (d. 2004)
Here’s Dangerfield, who got no respect to the end, on Johnny Carson’s show in 1978. Although his humor can be repetitive, his stand-up bit here is pretty good:
- 1940 – Terry Gilliam, American-English actor, director, animator, and screenwriter
- 1943 – Billie Jean King, American tennis player and sportscaster
- 1958 – Jamie Lee Curtis, American actress
- 1967 – Boris Becker, German-Swiss tennis player and coach
- 1984 – Scarlett Johansson, American actress
- 1986 – Oscar Pistorius, South African sprinter
Those who began resting in peace on November 22 include:
- 1718 – Blackbeard, English pirate (b. 1680; see above)
- 1902 – Walter Reed, American physician and entomologist (b. 1851)
- 1916 – Jack London, American novelist and journalist (b. 1876)
- 1955 – Shemp Howard, American actor and comedian (b. 1895)
Shemp, whose real name was Samuel Horwitz, got his name because, as Wikipedia notes, “He was called ‘Shemp’ because “Sam” came out that way in his mother’s thick Litvak accent.”
These three men died on the same day:
- 1963 – Aldous Huxley, English novelist and philosopher (b. 1894)
- 1963 – John F. Kennedy, American lieutenant and politician, 35th President of the United States (b. 1917)
- 1963 – C. S. Lewis, British writer, critic and Christian apologist (b. 1898)
- 1981 – Hans Adolf Krebs, German-English physician and biochemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1900)
- 2011 – Lynn Margulis, American biologist and academic (b. 1938)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s musings are explained by Malgorzata: “Hili is sitting on a tree in Dobrzyn, intently looking at something. Of course, what she can see is other trees, possibly the river—anyhow a symbol of a quiet idyll. But there are demonstrations all over Poland, there are calls for a revolution and, in this, everything is organized and done by women. So Hili responds that she can see the imminent (or already happening) revolution.
A: What do you see there?Hili: Women’s revolution.
Ja: Co tam widzisz?Hili: Bunt kobiet.
A meme from reader Bruce:
A tweet from cesar. A weepy Republican shows the cultlike nature of Trumpism:
A caller who is near tears, distraught over election results, tells Rush Limbaugh that he's willing to die for Trump pic.twitter.com/huVu0qfcgt
— John Whitehouse (@existentialfish) November 20, 2020
From Enrico: a humorous headline from the conservative Drudge Report:
The Drudge Report right now. pic.twitter.com/ryrrr66DX0
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) November 19, 2020
Tweets from Matthew. The first is an in-joke, since Matthew persuaded me to do something I never do: watch all the episodes of a television show—The Sopranos. I quite like it, though we’ll never find out about the head-shot Russian in the Pine Barrens:
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) November 21, 2020
A d*g is not sibling to a cat! But this is adorable: I love it when the kitten bounces around. Sound up if you want musical accompaniment.
Watch this kitten fall in love with his older siblings — and go to the beach for the first time 💕 pic.twitter.com/w8Vs8dYqwQ
— The Dodo (@dodo) November 21, 2020
Like the Wise Men adoring the Baby Jesus:
This is the most important thing you'll see today. pic.twitter.com/7HPXn7enOr
— The Feel Good Page ❤️ (@akkitwts) November 20, 2020
A close-up of Giuliani from above.
Democracy dyes in darkness. pic.twitter.com/l3CUWyQezC
— RobGobbleGobble (@RobGeorge) November 19, 2020
No comment needed:
Armoured Purrsonnel Carrier. pic.twitter.com/va76SJJU3y
— Dick King-Smith HQ (@DickKingSmith) December 1, 2018
Barrett must have voted to let the next federal execution proceed (I didn’t check):
She's a fanatic but she's not a fanatic about the sanctity of life
— Tom Scocca (@tomscocca) November 20, 2020