Good morning on Tuesday, December 1, the beginning of the last month of this wretched year. Tuesday is, of course, the cruelest day, and I hope you know where that phrase comes from. It’s three food months in one:
National Pear Month
National Egg Nog Month
National Fruit Cake Month
Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) goes to a search for “December around the world, though they neglected Coynezaa (celebrated Dec 25-Dec. 30):
It’s National Fried Pie Day, a staple much beloved in the American South, especially in the peach version. And let’s not forget the non-fried pies, as it’s National Pie Day, as well as Eat a Red Apple Day (Boo to American red apples, which are mushy and without flavor: give me a tart Granny Smith). It’s Giving Tuesday, when we’re supposed to donate to charity instead of buying more online stuff (you can do both at our charity auction), World AIDS Day, and Rosa Parks Day, celebrating the day in 1955 when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man, starting the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
News of the Day:
Beavers have been extinct in England since the 16th century due to trapping, but they’re making a comeback as they get reintroduced. Today the BBC reported that beavers released in Exmoor (in west Somerset) have build the first dam seen in that region in the last 400 years! It’s a modest dam, to be sure, but a dam nonetheless, and here’s a photo:
Hard to believe, but Garry Trudeau’s strip “Doonesbury” is 50 years old this year. (It was the first comic strip to win the Pulitzer Prize.) Over at the Washington Post, you can see ten strips that Trudeau says “have proved defining and enduringly meaningful to him.” You’ll want to see them as well as his comments.
Here’s a Doonesbury oldie that I well remember. It’s from 2012, when Texas passed a law requiring that any woman seeking an abortion get a sonogram (click to enlarge):
Richard Frishmann has some heartbreaking photos (and text) at the New York Times showing remnants of segregation still around in the South. They include once-segregated drive-ins and restaurants, hotels that catered to only blacks, and “colored” entrances to theaters. When I first arrived in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1967 to attend college, I was puzzled at the presence of two men’s rooms, two ladies rooms, and two water fountains in the small Greyhound bus station. Only later did I realize what they meant.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 268,023, an increase of about 1,300 from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,475,636, a big increase of about 8,900 over yesterday’s report.
Stuff that happened on December 1 includes:
- 1640 – End of the Iberian Union: Portugal acclaims as King João IV of Portugal, ending 59 years of personal union of the crowns of Portugal and Spain and the end of the rule of the Philippine Dynasty.
You think this election was a mess? Read about the one in 1824:
- 1824 – United States presidential election: Since no candidate received a majority of the total electoral college votes in the election, the United States House of Representatives is given the task of deciding the winner in accordance with the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
- 1862 – In his State of the Union Address President Abraham Lincoln reaffirms the necessity of ending slavery as ordered ten weeks earlier in the Emancipation Proclamation.
You can see Lincoln’s full speech here.
- 1913 – Ford Motor Company introduces the first moving assembly line.
Here’s a photo of that first line, photographed in 1913. The caption notes “Ford assembly line, 1913. The magneto assembly line was the first.
- 1919 – Lady Astor becomes the first female Member of Parliament to take her seat in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. (She had been elected to that position on November 28.)
Here’s Lady Astor in 1919 canvassing the electorate:
- 1941 – World War II: Emperor Hirohito of Japan gives the final approval to initiate war against the United States.
Six days later, the Japanese airstrike on Pearl Harbor took place, and the next day we were at war.
- 1955 – American Civil Rights Movement: In Montgomery, Alabama, seamstress Rosa Parks refuses to give up her bus seat to a white man and is arrested for violating the city’s racial segregation laws, an incident which leads to that city’s bus boycott.
Here’s Rosa Parks with her mugshot after the bus arrest:
- 1969 – Vietnam War: The first draft lottery in the United States is held since World War II.
Oy, do I remember that! I was number 3, which guaranteed (at the time) that I’d be drafted into the Army. Circumstances, though, dictated otherwise, but that’s another tale.
- 1990 – Channel Tunnel sections started from the United Kingdom and France meet 40 metres beneath the seabed.
Here’s the tunnel joining with diggers Robert ‘Graham’ Fagg and Philippe Cozette. Fagg, the Brit, later voted for Brexit (see here).
- 2019 – First known case of COVID-19 appears.
Within just one year from this case, we now have several effective vaccines that work in different ways—a testimony to the power of science.
Notables born on this day include:
Moore, also called “The Sweet Singer of Michigan”, is the American counterpart of William McGonagall, both famous for writing godawful poems. You can see a selection of her works here (I recommend “Little Libbie,” which contains these deathless verses:
. . . One morning in April, a short time ago,
Libbie was active and gay;
Her Saviour called her, she had to go,
E’re the close of that pleasant day.
While eating dinner, this dear little child
Was choked on a piece of beef.
Doctors came, tried their skill awhile,
But none could give relief.
She was ten years of age, I am told,
And in school stood very high.
Her little form now the earth enfolds,
In her embrace it must ever lie.
- 1933 – Lou Rawls, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actor (d. 2006)
- 1935 – Woody Allen, American actor, director, and screenwriter
- 1940 – Richard Pryor, American comedian, actor, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2005)
- 1945 – Bette Midler, American singer-songwriter, actress and producer
- 1949 – Pablo Escobar, Colombian drug lord and narcoterrorist (d. 1993)
- 1970 – Sarah Silverman, American comedian, actress, and singer.
Sarah is fifty today, and my offer of marriage still stands though she spurns connubial bliss. Yes, I know she wets her bed.
Those who dropped dead on this day include:
- 1866 – George Everest, Welsh geographer and surveyor (b. 1790)
- 1947 – Aleister Crowley, English magician, poet, and mountaineer (b. 1875)
- 1947 – G. H. Hardy, English mathematician and theorist (b. 1877)
- 1964 – J. B. S. Haldane, English-Indian geneticist and biologist (b. 1892)
Here’s a cartoon of Haldane (an evolutionary geneticist) from 1949; he was a communist but renounced it when the Soviet Union, under the charlatan Lysenko, repudiated “western” genetics:
- 1987 – James Baldwin, American novelist, poet, and critic (b. 1924)
- 1989 – Alvin Ailey, American dancer and choreographer (b. 1931)
- 1997 – Stéphane Grappelli, French violinist (b. 1908)
Here’s Grapelli with his famous accompanist, Django Reinhardt, in a rare video. The song gets hot about 1:30, when they show the Quintette of the Hot Club of France. Note that Reinhardt plays with just two fingers on the frets, as he injured his hand in a fire when he was young.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, there was a kerfuffle on Sunday when Hili couldn’t abide the presence of both Szaron and Kulka in the same room, and pandemonium ensued.
Hili: Everybody is hissing at each other.A: Not at all—Kulka and Szaron want to be your friends.Hili: And that’s why I’m hissing at them.
Hili: Wszyscy na siebie syczą.Ja: Wcale nie, Kulka i Szaron chcą się z tobą zaprzyjaźnić.Hili: Właśnie dlatego na nie syczę.
Here are Kulka and Szaron on the kitchen windowsill, where Kulka gets some noms:
I posted this classic meme on my Facebook page 12 years ago (Facebook reminded me):
From Jesus of the Day:
Titania suggests a replacement neologism:
Some women are complaining that the term “vulva owners” is degrading.
So how about “bipedal breeding utensils”? pic.twitter.com/s9dKlUmCw8
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) November 30, 2020
From reader Paul. This vigorous kid apparently has COVID-19, which has killed his sense of taste and smell. I gather it returns, but I’m still puzzled about why the hot sauce didn’t make his taste buds tingle:
In case you were wondering what losing your smell/taste due to COVID was like… pic.twitter.com/vITzWAkxSc
— Matthew D Cheung (@cheung_md) November 27, 2020
From reader Enrico, about Biden’s d*g-induced foot fracture. BUT: a.) Biden’s dogs are German Shepherds, and b.) THE BIDENS HAVEN’T GOTTEN A CAT YET!
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) November 30, 2020
From reader Ken, who agrees that the kids are alright:
60 teenage boys then gathered on the other side of the fence shouting encouragement and chanted “feminism, suffragettes” while I repeatedly attempted the throw and then cheered and applauded when I succeeded.
— Rose Brown (@rbrowntweets) November 26, 2020
Tweets from Matthew. For crying out loud, everyone knows you shouldn’t feed donuts to a horse!
In Wilmington, Delaware, a horse eats too many donuts and goes on a rampage, wrecking a bakery and terrifying townsfolk. pic.twitter.com/sCRclBNZkj
— 1920 Live (@100YearsAgoLive) November 26, 2020
Matthew critically analyzes a piece of “Trump fan art”:
I *think* the fact that the loco appears to be burning money, plus the objects from Back to the Future at his feet, suggests this is a joke. But it is hard to tell. The UFO and the Tommy-gun toting eagle could be serious. The buffers are not right, suggesting non-US origin. https://t.co/HdTvnz9bZR
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) November 25, 2020
Matthew called attention to the Bilby’s ears, but he hardly had to. I love these adorable marsupials. At Easter in Oz, they eat chocolate bilbies instead of chocolate rabbits, and part of the proceeds has gone to help bring back the bilby. (Rabbits, which have wrecked much of Australia, should not be celebrated there at Easter!)
Bilby surveys at Mallee Cliffs! 👀
Since then, the Bilby population has more than DOUBLED.
🎥 G Hornstra / AWC pic.twitter.com/sk5KwBsgmq
— Australian Wildlife Conservancy (@awconservancy) November 20, 2020
A chocolate bilby:
And this has to be the Tweet of the Month, even though the month just started:
Stop everything you're doing and watch these ducklings doing pool party pic.twitter.com/aLAvktVAPP
— The Feel Good Page ❤️ (@akkitwts) November 30, 2020