Heartening news to start: At least one of the two Georgia Senate races has already been called for a Democrat, and a Dem is also leading the other, which is too close to call. The Reverend Raphael Warnock has already been declared the victor, by a narrow margin, over incumbent Kelly Loeffler.
In the other race, Democrat Jon Ossoff leads his opponent David Perdue by 12,806 votes, with 98% of the votes in.. Here’s the tally as of 4 a.m. today (I couldn’t sleep). Fingers crossed!
News of the Day:
The Trumpster has only two weeks of tantrums to go. Yesterday he told VP Mike Pence that he, Pence, had the power to block the certification of the election results in joint Congressional meeting today. But Pence doesn’t, and told the Orange Man so.
According to the Guardian, the Royal Mint’s new £2 coin, issued to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the death of author H. G. Wells, has erred in its depiction of a scene from his The War of the World. For one thing, the “Fighting Machine” of the aliens, also known as the “Tripod”, is shown with four legs instead of three. To wit:
Here’s and illustration of the Martian fighting machine by Henrique Alvim Corréa for the 1906 edition of the novel:
Many animals are known to use tools—even insects—but heretofore cats haven’t been in that august company. Now, though, scientists have discovered the first case of tool-using in felids:
More about cats from The New Yorker (click on screenshot below). First of all, the Bidens don’t yet have a First Cat, and may not get one. It was just a wish. Second, the piece is not funny. As the magazine got woker, it got less funny, with the trend first showing up in the increasingly meh cartoons. Funny woke people is an oxymoron. And now we have piece below, which I first looked forward to but found strained. Note to author: cats do not have “chew toys“!
The same judge who refused to allow Julian Assange to be extradited to the U.S. to face charges of espionage yesterday insisted that Assange remain in jail, where he’s sitting in violation of his bail conditions. I believe the judge deemed him a flight risk.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 357,378, a big increase of about 3,600 deaths from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,878,244, a huge increase of about 15,500 over yesterday’s total, a death rate of about 10.8 people per minute. These statistics are horrifying, far above what people guesstimated in the Spring.
Stuff that happened on January 6 includes:
Anne lasted six months as queen; Henry ditched her because he didn’t like her looks. Ergo, no heir would be forthcoming.
- 1838 – Alfred Vail and colleagues demonstrate a telegraph system using dots and dashes (this is the forerunner of Morse code).
- 1847 – Samuel Colt obtains his first contract for the sale of revolver pistols to the United States government.
Here’s the .36-caliber five-shot revolver, the “Texas Colt,” that was Colt’s first commercial model. For several years it was used exclusively in Texas. This one was made in 1839.
- 1907 – Maria Montessori opens her first school and daycare center for working class children in Rome, Italy.
- 1912 – German geophysicist Alfred Wegener first presents his theory of continental drift.
Wegener’s theory was poo-pooed for a long time, but was finally accepted by 1960, 30 years after Wegener’s death. Now, using satellites, we can measure how fast the contents move. We know, for example, that Europe and North America are moving apart at about the same rate your fingernails grow: about an inch a year.
Here’s the prescient Wegener:
- 1929 – Mother Teresa arrives by sea in Calcutta, India, to begin her work among India’s poorest and sick people.
She served there for 68 years. Do read Hitchens’s hatchet job on her: The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice.
- 1941 – United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his Four Freedoms speech in the State of the Union address.
In October of 2012, before the “Moving Naturalism Forward” conference, I visited the Normal Rockwell Museum and studio in Stockbridge, Massachusetts with Dennett and Dawkins. Rockwell’s paintings of the Four Freedoms, published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1943, are iconic. Here’s a photo of me before the original “Freedom of worship” painting, and one of Richard before the “Freedom of speech” painting.
- 1989 – Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh are sentenced to death for conspiracy in the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi; the two men are executed the same day.
- 1994 – American figure skater Nancy Kerrigan is attacked and injured by an assailant hired by her rival Tonya Harding’s ex-husband during the U.S. Figure Skating Championships that they were both taking part in.
- 1832 – Gustave Doré, French painter and sculptor (d. 1883)
Doré is one of my favorite illustrators. His engravings for The Divine Comedy are great and scary (I have a book of them); here’s one of Virgil and Dante in Hell:
- 1878 – Carl Sandburg, American poet and historian (d. 1967)
- 1880 – Tom Mix, American cowboy and actor (d. 1940)
- 1883 – Kahlil Gibran, Lebanese-American poet, painter, and philosopher (d. 1931)
- 1913 – Loretta Young, American actress (d. 2000)
- 1920 – John Maynard Smith, English biologist and geneticist (d. 2004)
JMS! A student of Haldane and a wickedly smart geneticist. He also liked his pint; once he stayed at my house and, on the advice of friends, I secured a case of his favorite American beer, Anchor’s Liberty Ale. It was gone within two days.
- 1920 – Sun Myung Moon, Korean religious leader; founder of the Unification Church (d. 2012)
- 1924 – Earl Scruggs, American banjo player (d. 2012)
Here’s the incomparable duo of Flatt and Scruggs playing “Polka on the Banjo”.
- 1925 – John DeLorean, American engineer and businessman, founded the DeLorean Motor Company (d. 2005)
- 1960 – Nigella Lawson, English chef and author
An ad for one of Nigella’s t.v. shows, “The Taste”. Recognize the others?
Notables who relinquished life on January 6 include:
- 1852 – Louis Braille, French educator, invented Braille (b. 1809)
- 1884 – Gregor Mendel, Czech geneticist and botanist (b. 1822)
- 1918 – Georg Cantor, German mathematician and philosopher (b. 1845)
- 1919 – Theodore Roosevelt, American colonel and politician, 26th President of the United States (b. 1858)
Here’s Diz explaining and then playing one of his early “hits”, “Salt Peanuts”. Man, he had cheeks like a chipmunk!
- 1993 – Dizzy Gillespie, American singer-songwriter and trumpet player (b. 1917)
- 1993 – Rudolf Nureyev, Russian-French dancer and choreographer (b. 1938)
- 2006 – Lou Rawls, American singer-songwriter (b. 1933)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has gone Zen:
A: What are you looking at?Hili: I’m living in the present.
Ja: Czemu się tak przyglądasz?Hili: Oglądam czas teraźniejszy.
Caption: Kulka in the first snow. (Photo: Paulina R.)
A meme from Bruce:
The 32nd installment of Titania’s “things that are racist” list. I didn’t know fat people were a “race,” and I’m dying to find out how Auckland University’s coffee is racist. Ah, I did; it features a stereotyped caricature of a black man, so that’s fair game.
THINGS THAT ARE RACIST
• Self-driving cars
• Jigsaw puzzles pic.twitter.com/oZBCqLv5PJ
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) January 4, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. First, a very weird beetle photographed by Gil Wizen:
Seed beetle (Ctenocolum sp.) from Honduras. This has to be one of the strangest beetles I've ever photographed. Everything about it screams "weird": the bunny ears, the baby legs, the enormous hind thighs, the boxed body shape… pic.twitter.com/8Xq3PpCt7I
— Gil Wizen (@wizentrop) March 5, 2020
This poor sap! And a giant cat takes over his personal cinema. . .
I've made a special Lockdown Cinema for my laptop to replicate the big screen experience pic.twitter.com/LBlLwbbwCg
— Tom Kingsley (@kingsley_tom) January 5, 2021
Deepak has found yet another way to monetize his spirituality!
This is not a spoof.
Spirituality and consumerism have been living in cahoots for some time. Now they're not even embarrassed by it. pic.twitter.com/tHRnesQMvO
— Julian Baggini (@JulianBaggini) January 5, 2021
These guys are really good, but their post-fall celebration implies that they were at least a bit worried:
"Do you own a chainsaw?"
"Can you cut down this 2ft dia, 80ft pine tree for me, please?"
"Where is it?"
"At my house……….. but the house is just 3ft away to the left & a shed 1ft away to the right.
You need to miss both of them. ………Can you do it?
yes indeed.. pic.twitter.com/hfRNc7Qxre
— Jon M. Taggart (@jonmtaggart) January 5, 2021