Good morning on the first Caturday of the year: Saturday, January 2, 2021. It’s National Buffet Day. I really love a good buffet, especially the ritzy ones, but I don’t see them happening for at least six months. It’s also Swiss Cheese Day, National Cream Puff Day, World Introvert Day, and Happy Mew Year for Cats Day, in which you’re supposed to give your cats a treat. January 2 is also a holiday in in Kazakhstan, North Macedonia, Mauritius, Montenegro, New Zealand, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland, and Ukraine, and a bank holiday in Scotland.
News of the day:
Is this irresponsible? The New York Times has a long article about kambo, a toxin derived from poisonous frogs, used by the benighted as a body “cleanse”, inducing repeated projectile vomiting, diarrhea, and all manner of distressing symptoms. It’s all the rage among the Goopy set, but a). it involves stressing and probably killing frogs, and b). there’s no good evidence that it works. Near the end of this long article, containing lots of anecdotal testimony about kambo’s putative physical and psychological benefits, you read this:
Health experts advised extreme caution, and said more rigorous studies were needed.
“Many medicines have come from natural products, particularly from places like the Amazon,” said Adam Perlman, the director of integrative medicine and health at Mayo Clinic Florida. “But at the moment, I don’t think the research into the pharmacology, not to mention the safety as well as the potential efficacy, is anywhere near where it needs to be before one would advocate using kambo in people.”
I wonder why they published the article at all. It’s just going to get a lot of people to try an untested treatment, as well as torturing a lot of hapless frogs.
The New York woman who attacked a black teenager, falsely accusing him of stealing her cellphone (she left it in an Uber) is shown here tackling the kid. She’s apparently hiding out, but the cops know who she is. Soon, she’ll have to face the music, and I hope they throw the book at her. This is a case where I’m pretty sure racial profiling is involved. Have a look:
On Saturday, December 26, the woman in this video falsely accused an innocent 14-year-old teenager of stealing her cellphone. She then proceeded to physically attack him and fled the location before police officers arrived on scene. pic.twitter.com/qtZZWetBWH
— Chief Rodney Harrison (@NYPDDetectives) December 31, 2020
Emily Dickinson spent a three-week vacation trip in Washington D.C. in 1855? Sure enough, it’s all true, and the subject of a bizarre new television series. You can have the damn series; I was just amazed to find that the Belle of Amherst actually left Amherst.
And here’s what television is doing to Emily, played by Hailee Steinfeld:
Young Emily as wide-eyed tourist run amok in the nation’s capital has the whiff of a Hollywood pipe dream, as outlandish as an episode from the Apple TV Plus series “Dickinson,” which depicts a twerking, cross-dressing, opium-taking badass in 19th-century period costume who says “dude,” stitches “F My Life” in her needlework samplers and flaunts her rebellion with an Instagram-ready exhibitionism. The show, like other recent treatments such as the 2018 film “Wild Nights With Emily,” subverts the facts in a 21st-century fan-fiction projection of the poet. They have garnered her a devoted new following well beyond the English-major obsessives of yore.
F my life, indeed!
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. 347,956, an increase of about 1,900 deaths from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,836,451, an increase of about 8,600 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on January 2 includes:
- 366 – The Alemanni cross the frozen Rhine in large numbers, invading the Roman Empire.
- 1900 – American statesman and diplomat John Hay announces the Open Door Policy to promote trade with China.
- 1942 – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) obtains the conviction of 33 members of a German spy ring headed by Fritz Joubert Duquesne in the largest espionage case in United States history—the Duquesne Spy Ring.
Here are the mug shots. Curiously, though I thought spying, especially during wartime, could be a capital crime, nobody was executed and the average prison sentence of all 33 was about nine years. H
- 1967 – Ronald Reagan, past movie actor and future President of the United States, is sworn in as Governor of California.
- 1974 – United States President Richard Nixon signs a bill lowering the maximum U.S. speed limit to 55 MPH in order to conserve gasoline during an OPEC embargo.
- 1981 – One of the largest investigations by a British police force ends when serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, the “Yorkshire Ripper”, is arrested in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.
Sutcliffe, who killed 13 women and tried to kill seven others, died in prison last November 13 of Covid-19 complications. Here is in in custody of police:
Notables born on this day are thin on the ground, and include:
- 1909 – Barry Goldwater, American politician, businessman, and author (d. 1998)
- 1936 – Roger Miller, American singer-songwriter, musician, and actor (d. 1992)
- 1938 – David Bailey, English photographer and painter
- 1940 – Jim Bakker, American televangelist
- 1969 – Christy Turlington, American model
Those who made their Final Exit on January 2 are also few, and include:
- 1977 – Erroll Garner, American pianist and composer (b. 1921)
- 2005 – Maclyn McCarty, American geneticist and physician (b. 1911)
McCarty was one of the three authors of a very important 1944 paper that’s been forgotten by many. The work described in it established pretty firmly that the genetic material, at least in bacteria, was DNA, not protein or another molecule. (At that time nobody knew.) I wonder why they didn’t win the Nobel Prize for the work. Click on the screenshot below to go to the paper (free pdf on the site):
Here’s McCarty with Watson and Crick:
- 2019 – Daryl Dragon, American musician (b. 1942)
Dragon was of course the Captain in “The Captain and Tennille”. Together they put out one of the worst songs in the history of rock and roll.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has a strange definition of “Providence”:
Hili: I trust Providence.A: That it will do what?Hili: That it will provide for me with your help.
Hili: Ufam opatrzności.Ja: Że co?Hili: Że mnie zaopatrzy z twoją pomocą.
Here’s a lovely formal portrait of Szaron and Kulka by Paulina:
From Jesus of the Day. If Amazon had been around two millennia ago.
A Pearls Before Swine comic sent by Smith Powell, showing how balled up people can get about free will. Pig’s gonna do what he’s gonna do.
Two tweets from Barry. Ricky Gervais tweets about his cat, and gets a response:
Pickle's New Year's resolution: chill and do fuck all year pic.twitter.com/gktUsL0ctd
— EzzMoney (@xezzmoneyx) January 1, 2021
And a fearsome lightning strike!
And here’s how fast it can happenpic.twitter.com/zdOl478NLj
— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) December 30, 2020
Tweets from Matthew. First, a proficiency with UK accents:
How can one person be this good at accents?! pic.twitter.com/9mqenb4Evx
— BBC Three (@bbcthree) January 1, 2021
Your Fun Animal Fact of the Day:
New year, new SLOTHFACT! did you know sloths have tiny silly ears? They are usually hidden in their fur, but when you see them, they are pretty funny! pic.twitter.com/FmKQPk9n2X
— Digital Naturalism (@HikingHack) January 1, 2021
Brezhnev, probably while he was still in charge (and custodian of The Bomb):
Happy New Year!
С Новым Годом! pic.twitter.com/c74XSHEsFy
— Nicole Grajewski (@NicoleGrajewski) December 31, 2020
It is a palindrome, and in fact seems to be true:
‘Are we not drawn onward to new era?’ is a palindrome.
— Haggard Hawks 🦅 (@HaggardHawks) January 1, 2021
And Woody Guthrie’s “New Years Rulin’s”:
“Keep hoping machine running.”
Socialist songwriter Woody Guthrie’s new year resolutions from 1943. pic.twitter.com/tQndE5uP9o
— Tribune (@tribunemagazine) December 31, 2020