Welcome to the lamest day of the week: Tuesday, and today is December 8, 2020: National Brownie Day (the food, not the girls’ organization). It’s also National Lard Day, which has been observed for only two years, probably promoted by Big Fat.
I saw a Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) on my way to work today; it scuttled across my path at about 4:45 a.m. (Is that good luck?) Here’s a fuzzy photo taken with my iPhone, but it’s enough to prove my claim of possum—the first one I’ve seen in Chicago. We’re at the northern limit of the species’ range:
News of the Day:
Chuck Yeager, breaker of the sound barrier and Mr. Right Stuff, died yesterday at a hospital in Los Angeles. He was 97. Yeager was the first person to break the sound barrier in 1947, in the plane below (picture taken in 1949). The name of the plane, Glamorous Glennis, came from Yeager’s wife.
According to the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), we’ve just seen another laudable example of bipartisanship in Congress. From the FFRF announcement:
The U.S. House has overwhelmingly passed a groundbreaking resolution calling for blasphemy and related laws to be revoked worldwide, much to the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s delight.
The resolution, HR512, (see bill here) was introduced last year by Jamie Raskin (D-MD), and passed yesterday by a vote of 385-3. The three representatives who voted “nay” were Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Thomas Massie (R-KY), and Chip Roy (R-TX). 39 members did not vote; almost all were Republicans.
Rudy Giuliani, who appeared in many Trump-related activities this year, has contracted the coronavirus and is now in the hospital. Much as I dislike the man, I can’t join the chorus of those who are rejoicing—some even hoping he’ll die.
Biden announced he’ll appoint a retired (since 2016) Army general, Lloyd Austin, as Secretary of Defense, But Austin, a superb military commander, has virtually no political chops, and even the New York Times, in an op-ed yesterday, says that “a recently retired general should not be Secretary of Defense.” A quote:
President-elect Biden should not put Lloyd Austin, nor any other recently retired general or admiral, in the same position. General Austin is a fine public servant, and he may well continue his service to the nation out of uniform. But the Pentagon would be the wrong place for him to do it.
A landmark: the first Brits got their Covid-shots yesterday:
The first Briton to get the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine — 90-year-old Margaret Keenan — received the first of two doses at 6:31 a.m. local time on Tuesday at University Hospital in Coventry, less than a week after the UK became the first country to approve it.Keenan, who turns 91 next week, said she felt “privileged” to be the first to get the shot..Keenan, who turns 91 next week, said she felt “privileged” to be the first to get the shot.
Matthew sent a tweet showing the second person to get jabbed: William Shakespere (note that the last name is misspelled in the tweet):
Second patient to get the COVID jab at University Hospital Coventry – would you believe it….William Shakespeare from Warwickshire pic.twitter.com/y0LzxgbJ9w
— Hugh Pym (@BBCHughPym) December 8, 2020
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 283,835, a big increase of about 1,500 from yesterday’s figure—more than one death per minute. The world death toll is 1,552,199, another big increase of about 9,200 over yesterday’s report—about 6.4 people dying per minute, or more than one every ten seconds.
Stuff that happened on December 8 includes:
- 1660 – A woman (either Margaret Hughes or Anne Marshall) appears on an English public stage for the first time, in the role of Desdemona in a production of Shakespeare’s play Othello.
- 1863 – American Civil War: President Abraham Lincoln issues the Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, formally establishing the process of Reconstruction.
- 1941 – World War II: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declares December 7 to be “a date which will live in infamy”, after which the U.S. declares war on Japan.
- 1943 – World War II: The German 117th Jäger Division destroys the monastery of Mega Spilaio in Greece and executes 22 monks and visitors as part of reprisals that culminated a few days later with the Massacre of Kalavryta.
I visited that monastery some years ago, before it modernized and became this. At least the monks have nice cells, though the place looks like a Motel 6.
- 1955 – The Flag of Europe is adopted by Council of Europe.
Here’s the flag:
- 1980 – Former Beatle John Lennon is murdered by Mark David Chapman in front of The Dakota in New York City.
- 1991 – The leaders of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine sign an agreement dissolving the Soviet Union and establishing the Commonwealth of Independent States.
- 2010 – With the second launch of the Falcon 9 and the first launch of the Dragon, SpaceX becomes the first private company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft.
- 2013 – Metallica performs a show in Antarctica, making them the first band to perform on all 7 continents.
The concert was actually on the South Shetland Islands, not on the Antarctic continent. Here’s a photo of the concert:
- 2019 – First confirmed case of COVID-19 in China
Notables born on this day include:
- 1542 – Mary, Queen of Scots, daughter of James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise, at Linlithgow Palace (d. 1587)
- 1765 – Eli Whitney, American engineer, invented the cotton gin (d. 1825)
- 1865 – Jean Sibelius, Finnish violinist and composer (d. 1957)
- 1886 – Diego Rivera, Mexican painter and educator (d. 1957)
Pictures I took of a famous Diego Rivera mural near the Zocalo in Mexico City (and two details), photographed at the Mexican Atheists’ meeting in November, 2012:
Who dat? You must know, right?
- 1894 – James Thurber, American humorist and cartoonist (d. 1961)
- 1922 – Lucian Freud, German-English painter and illustrator (d. 2011)
I like Freud: one of the few great figurative artists of the 20th century. Here’s a self-portrait:
- 1925 – Sammy Davis, Jr., American actor, singer, and dancer (d. 1990)
- 1943 – Jim Morrison, American singer-songwriter and poet (d. 1971)
- 1947 – Gregg Allman, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2017)
Here’s Allman doing the vocals on one of my favorite Allman Brothers recordings “One Way Out”. This is in 1982 at the University of Florida. Betts, as usual, is fantastic:
- 1951 – Bill Bryson, American essayist, travel and science writer
- 1966 – Sinéad O’Connor, Irish singer-songwriter
Those who went to the Great Beyond on December 8 include:
- 1859 – Thomas De Quincey, English journalist and author (b. 1785)
- 1903 – Herbert Spencer, English biologist, anthropologist, sociologist, and philosopher (b. 1820)
- 1958 – Tris Speaker, American baseball player and manager (b. 1888)
- 1980 – John Lennon, English singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1940)
- 2016 – John Glenn, American astronaut and senator, first American to go into orbit (b. 1921)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is sitting on the windowsill behind closed curtains:
A: What are you doing there?Hili: I’m meditating.
Ja: Co tam robisz?Hili: Medytuję
And here is little Kulka; her golden eyes distinguish her from Hili, who has green eyes (photo by Paulina R.):
A Christmas tweet from Nicole:
On Seth Andrews’s Facebook page, but I added the green line, which represents my plot:
From Jesus of the Day:
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) December 7, 2020
From Luana. Have a look at the article.
The new normal is so abnormal that is probably diagnosable as clinically insane.
Students persuade law school to tear down mural depicting the Underground Railroad.
— The Dread Pirate Jussim (@PsychRabble) December 6, 2020
Tweets from Matthew. Be sure to see the video in the second tweet.
The video it's pulled from which is a few minutes of beautiful murmuration action is here;https://t.co/kDWQfAYsgn
— Oliver C Wright (@OW_Photography) December 7, 2020
Wait for the bobkitten reveal:
— Melissa Crytzer Fry (@CrytzerFry) December 6, 2020
This tweet seems to have disappeared; it was a cockatoo moving up and down with a bunch of humans:
Just a really happy bird pic.twitter.com/ET3AjhHhkJ
— Henry Fraser (@henryfraser0) December 7, 2020
From a camera trap in Borneo. Click the marbled cat picture to enlarge it:
OH MAN this just keeps getting better. MARBLED CAT! It's thought that they use their huge tail as a counterbalance as they hunt high in the forest canopy. Basically a tropical snow leopard! pic.twitter.com/meks9y2cRs
— Andy Boyce 👨🔬🐦 (@AndyJBoyce) November 20, 2020
And of course we must have more cats:
One can only imagine how arduous a task making the bed would be without help like this.
— Paul Bronks (@SlenderSherbet) December 6, 2020