It’s 2021 at last! Friday, January 1, to be exact, and if anybody still wrote checks, you’d have to make an effort to remember that it’s no longer 2020. But I expect it’ll be easier to remember the right year now. Here’s a farewell-to-the-year clip:
I spent all my savings on the effects for this. Totally worth it:
Goodbye 2020 the Jaws edition. pic.twitter.com/PN2AsC48sU
— Matthew Frighton (@MattHighton) December 31, 2020
Five years ago today Matthew Cobb posted this photo of New Year’s Eve in Manchester with this commentary:
New Year’s Eve in UK cities can be a pretty horrendous experience. The Manchester Evening News has just published a delightful selection of photos by Joel Goodman, showing what happened last night. They are generally pretty grim, but this photo, taken on Withy Grove, stands out. As various people on Tw*tter have commented, it looks like a Renaissance painting.
Mancunians apparently take a perverse pride in this photo:
The same scene last night (thanks to Matthew again):
And Google has a New Year’s Doodle (click on screenshot):
National Hot Tea Month
National Oatmeal Month
National Slow Cooking Month
National Soup Month
National Baking Month
National Fat Free Living Month
Fat Free Living Month.
Finally, it’s the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, celebrating the Snipping of the Saviour, and Polar Bear Swim Day in Canada and United States. But they do it in the Netherlands, too. Here’s a picture of The Nieuwjaarsduik in Scheveningen from 2010. If you can pronounce all that, you’re prepared to speak Dutch.
For descriptions of how New Year’s Day is celebrated around the world, go here.
News of the Day:
Good news for Democrats, not for Senator David Perdue, who’s a Republican in one of the two crucial Georgia runoffs that will determine which party gets control of the U.S. Senate. Perdue’s wife tested positive for Covid-19, and Perdue is quarantining for two weeks. (The runoff is next Tuesday, and Perdue had to cancel several rallies.) One hopes he’s okay, but one also hopes that he loses to Democrat Jon Ossoff.
FiveThirtyEight shows that both elections are squeakers, with the Dems leading by a hair. Dems must win both to take control of the Senate:
The regular election runoff:
The special election runoff:
Now the next item is just plain weird, and I’ll just give the NYT summary:
A pharmacist at a Wisconsin hospital has been arrested and accused of intentionally removing more than 500 doses of coronavirus vaccine from refrigeration last week, knowing that the vaccines would be rendered useless and that the people receiving them would think they were protected against the virus when they were not, the police department in Grafton, Wisconsin, said Thursday.
. . . A pharmacist at a Wisconsin hospital has been arrested and accused of intentionally removing more than 500 doses of coronavirus vaccine from refrigeration last week, knowing that the vaccines would be rendered useless and that the people receiving them would think they were protected against the virus when they were not, the police department in Grafton, Wisconsin, said Thursday.
One wonders what the goals of this act were, but the consequences were predictable: people would think they were protected but weren’t. However, there’s also a second shot, and since both shots are the same (or so I hear), you’d eventually still have substantial protection against the virus.
Here’s an update on the new, more spreadable coronavirus, and the news isn’t that bad. We just have to adhere rigorously to our social-distancing, mask-wearing, and sanitizing standards. And yes, the jab still works. There will be more mutants, but we can also expect the virus to evolve lower lethality (viruses that kill their carriers don’t get spread as easily).
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 346,037, a big increase of about 3,500 deaths from yesterday’s figure, and about 2.4 deaths per minute. The world death toll is 1,827,859, another big increase of about 13,100 over yesterday’s total and representing about 9.1 deaths per minute from Covid-19—more than one every 7 seconds.
Stuff that happened on January 1 includes:
- 45 BC – The Julian calendar takes effect as the civil calendar of the Roman Empire, establishing January 1 as the new date of the new year.
In the Gregorian calendar:
- 1739 – Bouvet Island, the world’s remotest island is discovered by French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charles Bouvet de Lozier.
Here’s where it is:
- 1773 – The hymn that became known as “Amazing Grace”, then titled “1 Chronicles 17:16–17” is first used to accompany a sermon led by John Newton in the town of Olney, Buckinghamshire, England.
- 1776 – General George Washington hoists the first United States flag; the Grand Union Flag at Prospect Hill.
Here’s that flag, though it still has Brit stuff in it:
- 1804 – French rule ends in Haiti. Haiti becomes the first black-majority republic and second independent country in North America after the United States.
- 1808 – The United States bans the importation of slaves.
- 1863 – American Civil War: The Emancipation Proclamation takes effect in Confederate territory.
- 1892 – Ellis Island begins processing immigrants into the United States.
Both of my maternal grandparents came to the U.S. through Ellis island in the late 19th century. Here are some immigrants arriving in 1921:
And here’s a typical cell in Alcatraz, like the one Al Capone inhabited for 4.5 years. Not many amenities, eh?
- 1934 – A “Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring” comes into effect in Nazi Germany.
- 1947 – The Canadian Citizenship Act 1946 comes into effect, converting British subjects into Canadian citizens. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King becomes the first Canadian citizen.
- 1959 – Cuban Revolution: Fulgencio Batista, dictator of Cuba, is overthrown by Fidel Castro‘s forces.
- 1971 – Cigarette advertisements are banned on American television.
The last cigarette ad in America was aired just before midnight on December 31, 1970. Here’s an earlier one: the Flintstones advertising Winstons! (Think of the children!). It also is sexist.
- 1979 – Normal diplomatic relations are established between the People’s Republic of China and the United States.
- 1999 – Euro currency is introduced in 11 member nations of the European Union (with the exception of the United Kingdom, Denmark, Greece and Sweden; Greece adopts the euro two years later).
Notables born on this day include:
- 1735 – Paul Revere, American silversmith and engraver (d. 1818)
- 1752 – Betsy Ross, American seamstress, credited with designing the Flag of the United States (d. 1836)
- 1879 – E. M. Forster, English author and playwright (d. 1970)
- 1895 – J. Edgar Hoover, American law enforcement official; 1st Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (d. 1972)
- 1919 – J. D. Salinger, American soldier and author (d. 2010)
- 1919 – Carole Landis, American actress (d. 1948)
Below is a video of two “it girls”: Betty Grable and Carole Landis (the second waitress). Landis was only 22 here, and seven years later, distraught that Rex Harrison wouldn’t marry her, she committed suicide. Wikipedia notes:
- 1955 – Mary Beard, English classicist, academic and presenter
Those who began pushing up daisies on January 1 include:
- 1953 – Hank Williams, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1923)
Here’s one of Williams’s great songs (his best was, of course, “I’m so lonesome I could cry,” but I couldn’t find a live version. Williams was only 29 when he died:
- 1972 – Maurice Chevalier, French actor and singer (b. 1888)
- 1995 – Eugene Wigner, Hungarian-American physicist and mathematician, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1902)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili sends us some self-aggrandizing greetings.
Hili: May we send good wishes to all cat lovers?A: And what do you want to wish them?Hili: I want to wish them much joy while serving their cats.
Hili: Czy możemy złożyć życzenia wszystkim miłośnikom kotów?Ja: A czego chcesz im życzyć?Hili: Dużo radości ze służenia kotom.
And here are three pictures of Kitten Kulka brisking about the life for the New Year. How she’s grown! She also has beautiful golden eyes. (Photos by Paulina)
In the air!
From Divy, who works with turtles and tortoises. She adds that, beyond the resemblance, “McConnell lives up to the reputation of a cold-blooded reptile.” Jango, at bottom, is one of her family cats.
From Lorenzo the Cat, captioned “The little cheater”:
And from reader Pliny the in Between’s Far Corner Cafe, we have a cartoon called “Road Warrior“:
From reader Barry, who adds, “Best New Year’s decoration ever. This will not be topped.” Well, the yellow lights could be animated to appear from top to bottom. . .
Put this up in my front yard today, how's it look? pic.twitter.com/xO6j7xPaiT
— FrostyDan (@Frosty40807229) December 31, 2020
Tweets from Matthew. The first one is about the worst soccer move I’ve ever seen:
2020, year of the miss pic.twitter.com/Fc8wsYAs3D
— James Dart (@James_Dart) December 31, 2020
Training a sheepdog:
Lots of you also how we train a sheepdog – well it starts like this
Tosh is young enough still, but working on his ‘away’ and ‘come bye’ and encouraging his innate desire to chase to be holding them to me pic.twitter.com/NlK9g9lPLk
— James Rebanks (@herdyshepherd1) December 31, 2020
You tell me: do you think he likes it or hates it?
Good morning..His first time getting an omelette. 🤭😂 pic.twitter.com/wn0BqyYZCO
— Frankie- Hart101.5☮️ (@FranklyHart) December 30, 2020
Penguins leading us into 2021:
These penguins are all of us getting the fuck out of 2020. 🔊🆙
📹: Imgur user rachiahava pic.twitter.com/3iTjC2fz6w
— Paul Bronks (@SlenderSherbet) December 31, 2020
Here’s a murmuration whose formation may include a predator, but they do form in the absence of predators (see second tweet):
— Andrew King (@SHOALgroup) December 31, 2020
Felix (or is the name “Felix sausage”) looks like he’s getting fed a little too often!
A conductor on the Pskov-Moscow train feeds a cat named Felix sausage during a short stop in Staraya, Russa. Felix shows up every day at 22:40 & has for several years. All conductors are aware of Felix & prepare sausage in advance. 😻(Source: Reddit) pic.twitter.com/N8TO1sRRJH
— Caelum (Not consistently here until January) (@caelumlapis) December 30, 2020
There’s even a poem about it!
The Ppspsskov-Moscow Train
The engine’s coming down the track,
Some hear it go choo-choo,
But this one’s bringing me my snack,
It’s what it’s trained to do.
So as it slows, I hear the hiss,
And I know that’s my chance,
The human has for me “pssspss!”,
The sausage in advance.
I wait each day, same time and place,
The sausage such a treat!
And when the human sees my face,
They know I’m there to eat.
The train don’t even need to stop,
The magic still occurring,
And when I get my sausage drop,
Our motors both are purring.
And to all from Jango down in Florida: