Merry Christmas and Joyous First Day of Coynezaa! It’s Friday, December 25, 2020, and National Pumpkin Pie Day. You can get a huge one at Costco (3 lb 10 ounces) for about six bucks, and they are mighty tasty. This is one of the best food bargains going. Sadly, Costco is closed today, and you have to be a member anyway. But if you are, don’t miss out on this behemoth pie during the holiday season (and you can freeze the leftovers).
News of the Day:
Do you really want bad news on Christmas? Well, there’s plenty. First, though, the good news: the U.S. military, charged with the annual tracking of Santa, has confirmed that the pandemic will not throw off St. Nick: presents will be delivered on schedule. That’s something that even the U.S. Postal Service can’t do.
As we speak, 85 million Americans are carrying viruses across the country in cars and planes, or are heading towards a place to get them. All health officials have advised against travel. But they’ve got a ticket to ride, and they don’t care. We’ll see the result in a couple of weeks.
But if you’re coming from Britain, you’d better have a negative Covid-19 test, as the U.S. has just required all passengers from Old Blighty to have tested negative within 72 hours before their departure. If you don’t have a documented negative test result, you can’t board the plane. And it better be the PCR test too, as that’s the one required (it’s the most accurate). This is a response to reports that the new mutant virus that supposedly is more infectious than the old ones. (We still don’t have real evidence for that.)
And, of course, Congress is in turmoil, with the Democrats pretending that they acceded to Trump’s request for an increase in per-American pandemic payments fro $600 to $2000, trying to force Republicans to look like they’re falling in line with Trump’s wishes (he said he’d veto the stimulus bill unless Congress folds). The Republicans didn’t fold, and so right now the whole thing is stalemated. The losers are the American people—the people who need money for rent or loans to keep their businesses going. I hate to say this, but it looks like the Democrats are trying to make political capital at the expense of hard-up Americans. As the NYT says:
The Democrats’ Christmas Eve gambit on the House floor was never meant to pass, but the party’s leaders hoped to put Republicans in a bind — choosing between the president’s wishes for far more largess and their own inclinations for modest spending.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 329,237, a substantial increase of about 2,800 from yesterday’s figure—roughly two deaths a minute. The world death toll is 1,751,191, a big increase of about 11,300 over yesterday’s report and the equivalent of about 7.8 deaths per minute.
Stuff that happened on December 25 include:
This is from the Chronograph of 354, and you know, doesn’t that just prove that Jesus wasn’t only real, but divine?
- 800 – The coronation of Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor, in Rome.
- 1013- Sweyn Forkbeard takes control of the Danelaw and is proclaimed king of England.The first Danish king of England, he ruled for only five weeks before he croaked. Here he is at his dad’s funeral, which looks like a gluttonous affair. His beard doesn’t look forked, either.
- 1066 – William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy is crowned king of England, at Westminster Abbey, London.
- 1492 – The carrack Santa María, commanded by Christopher Columbus, runs onto a reef off Haiti due to an improper watch.
- 1758 – Halley’s Comet is sighted by Johann Georg Palitzsch, confirming Edmund Halley’s prediction of its passage. This was the first passage of a comet predicted ahead of time.
- 1776 – George Washington and the Continental Army cross the Delaware River at night to attack Hessian forces serving Great Britain at Trenton, New Jersey, the next day.
The Continental Army won in a decisive and morale-boosting victory. Here’s the famous painting by Emanuel Leutze. From Wikipedia:
The painting is notable for its artistic composition. General Washington is emphasized by an unnaturally bright sky, while his face catches the upcoming sun. The colors consist of mostly dark tones, as is to be expected at dawn, but there are red highlights repeated throughout the painting. Foreshortening, perspective and the distant boats all lend depth to the painting and emphasize the boat carrying Washington.
The people in the boat represent a cross-section of the American colonies, including a man in a Scottish bonnet and a man of African descent facing backward next to each other in the front, western riflemen at the bow and stern, two farmers in broad-brimmed hats near the back (one with bandaged head), and an androgynous rower in a red shirt, possibly meant to be a woman in man’s clothing. There is also a man at the back of the boat wearing what appears to be Native American garb to represent the idea that all people in the new United States of America were represented as present in the boat along with Washington on his way to victory and success.
Did you read that? A woman (or person of indeterminate gender), an African-American, and a Native American (probably case of cultural appropriation)? This painting was way ahead of its time.
- 1809 – Dr. Ephraim McDowell performs the first ovariotomy, removing a 22-pound tumor.
- 1826 – The Eggnog Riot at the United States Military Academy concludes after beginning the previous evening.
- 1831 – The Great Jamaican Slave Revolt begins; up to 20% of Jamaica’s slaves mobilize in an ultimately unsuccessful fight for freedom.
- 1868 – Pardons for ex-Confederates: United States President Andrew Johnson grants an unconditional pardon to all Confederate veterans.
- 1950 – The Stone of Scone, traditional coronation stone of British monarchs, is taken from Westminster Abbey by Scottish nationalist students. It later turns up in Scotland on April 11, 1951.
Here’s the real Stone of Scone, which is now scheduled to be moved to Perth City Hall (?) in 2024:
Here’s its return to Scotland in 1996, where it will stay except when a new British monarch is crowned in Westminster Abbey:
- 1968 – Apollo program: Apollo 8 performs the first successful Trans-Earth injection (TEI) maneuver, sending the crew and spacecraft on a trajectory back to Earth from Lunar orbit.
- 1991 – Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as President of the Soviet Union (the union itself is dissolved the next day). Ukraine’s referendum is finalized and Ukraine officially leaves the Soviet Union.
Notables born on this day include:
- AD 1: Jesus H. Christ (traditional made-up date)
Here’s an “forensic anthropological” reconstruction of what Jesus looked like, but the methodology is pretty bogus (check the link). And of course I’m still not convinced that a Jesus person ever existed.
— Esquire (@esquire) December 11, 2015
- 1642 (OS) – Isaac Newton, English physicist and mathematician (d. 1726/1727)
- 1821 – Clara Barton, American nurse and humanitarian, founder of the American Red Cross (d. 1912)
- 1884 – Evelyn Nesbit, American model and actress (d. 1967)
- 1899 – Humphrey Bogart, American actor (d. 1957)
- 1907 – Cab Calloway, American singer-songwriter and bandleader (d. 1994)
Here’s Cab in his heyday doing his most famous song, “Minnie the Moocher“:
- 1949 – Sissy Spacek, American actress.
Sissy Spacek is only five days older than I am, so I keep an eye on her to see how I am aging—comparatively. Here she is in 2018 with Robert Redford in the movie “The Old Man and the Gun“. We’re all getting older, but she still looks pretty good:
- 1971 – Justin Trudeau, Canadian educator and politician, 23rd Prime Minister of Canada
Those whose metabolic processes became history on December 25 include:
- 1946 – W. C. Fields, American actor, comedian, juggler, and screenwriter (b. 1880)
- 1977 – Charlie Chaplin, English actor and director (b. 1889)
- 1983 – Joan Miró, Spanish painter and sculptor (b. 1893)
Here’s Miro’s “The Farmer’s Wife, Kitchen, Cat, Rabbit”, with a cat detail:
- 2005 – Birgit Nilsson, Swedish operatic soprano (b. 1918)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, we have a Christmas photo of Hili wryly contemplating the Scriptures:
Hili: How many times are cats mentioned in this book?A: I don’t know, I have the impression that they are not mentioned at all.Hili: You see? And cats exist.
Hili: Ile razy w tej książce piszą o kotach?Ja: Nie wiem, mam wrażenie, że wcale.Hili: No popatrz, a koty istnieją.
And little Kulka, now freed from ths post-spaying jacket, posed beside the Christmas tree. Malgorzata notes, “This will be a bit of a clumsy translation because Andrzej uses Polish words with double meaning. All his ironic hints are immediately understandable in Polish but I have no idea how to retain them in English”. (Photo by Paulina; the Polish is below the picture.):
Kulka: I wish everybody who celebrates everything they wish themselves.
From Mark, a short history of canid domestication.
From Nicole (be sure to see our own Cat Confessions Contest from 2014):
From Titania, who always finds these things:
Just so we’re clear:
• Daffy Duck: he/him
• Wilma Flintstone: she/her
• Snoopy: they/them
• SpongeBob SquarePants: ze/zir
• Elmer Fudd: flim/flam
• Popeye: xe/xem
And if you misgender Porky Pig, I’m calling the police. https://t.co/VP5gUWT6y1
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) December 23, 2020
Another tweet that I got from Matthew and retweeted. Be sure to watch the whole video so you can see it open that huge maw!
Meet the potoo, one of the world's weirdest birds. https://t.co/1IpvGcuFJd
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) December 23, 2020
Now here’s a lovely fish, and I’m glad they threw it back:
Day 22 of #25DaysOfFishmas is for one of the most gorgeous fish in the sea, the China rockfish (Sebastes nebulosus). These all go back to the sea, but not before a picture is taken to remember how pretty these fish are. #Fishmas pic.twitter.com/jVdk7FoxjB
— Tim Akimoff (@timakimoff) December 22, 2020
Christmas tweets from Matthew, with an awesome Gary Larson cartoon:
It's the most wonderful time of the year from Gary Larson pic.twitter.com/U2t1gEmYYW
— Rabih Alameddine (@rabihalameddine) December 24, 2020
Every year at this time, our Antifa potluck turns into a lively discussion on how we're going to win the War on Christmas™. This year it was decided to get a lot of baby elephants who love eating Christmas trees.
We're winning! pic.twitter.com/UGWNywyHzm
— Rabih Alameddine (@rabihalameddine) December 24, 2020
I wonder if Baby Jesus tasted of wine and wafers:
We have the official Velociraptor patiently waiting for baby Jesus pic.twitter.com/2E4GFyAj7w
— Christophe🔬Leterrier (@christlet) December 24, 2020
One of the 25 Days of Crustmas: a mutualism!
This is a fun example of the ecological relationships found in the ocean. These shrimp maintain a burrow that all 3 live in. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/LUbfcbXwta
— Vanessa Knutson (@Bugs_and_Slugs) December 24, 2020