Good morning on the second Caturday of 2021: Saturday, January 9, and National Apricot Day. It’s also Play God Day, National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, and National Word Nerd Day, which you’re supposed to celebrate by learning new words, and, in India, Non-Resident Indian Day (does any other country have a holiday celebrating non-residents?).
Here’s our new word, which I keep relearning and keep forgetting because I never use it. I got it from Hitchens, of course: ratiocination: “the process of exact thinking, OR a reasoned train of thought.”
News of the Day:
The BBC and NYT report on the hunt to arrest rioters in Capitol; there’s a huge effort by law enforcement, involving “hundreds of prosecutors and FBI agents”, to track down the miscreants and bring them to justice. More power to them! The NYT says “dozens have been arrested, of which 13 face federal charges.” It didn’t take them long to track down Richard Barnett of Arkansas, 60, who was photographed with his feet on Nancy Pelosi’s desk:
According to the NYT, “Mr. Barnett faces three criminal counts that included knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful entry; violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds; and theft of public money, property or records. He was expected to make an initial appearance in Little Rock, Ark., and then be sent to Washington to face prosecution.”
And don’t forget Fur Hat Man, “Another man pictured wearing a fur hat and horns, whose photo was shared widely online, was identified as Jake Angeli – a vocal supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory.”
But there are more serious charges, and they’re still looking for the people involved in murdering policeman Brian Sicknick (he was bashed on the head with a fire extinguisher), and carrying pipe bombs.
Here’s another loon:
One of the most serious federal cases involved Lonnie L. Coffman of Falkville, Ala. In the bed of his truck, officers found what they described as an M4 assault rifle and magazines loaded with ammunition. They also found rags, lighters and 11 glass Mason jars filled with a liquid later identified as gasoline.
Bomb technicians determined that they were meant to be turned into Molotov cocktails — small, hand-thrown fire bombs. Mr. Coffman was arrested when he tried to return to his truck around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. The police found two handguns in his pants pockets, a 9-millimeter handgun in his right front pocket and a .22-caliber pistol in his left front pocket.
There are others, but this one is especially stupid:
Also among those arrested was Derrick Evans, a newly elected lawmaker from West Virginia, Mr. Kohl said. Mr. Evans posted video to his Facebook page of him filming as he stood among the crowd outside a Capitol door, shouting, “There we go! Open the door!” and chanting, “Our house! Our house!” before rushing inside. “We’re going in!” he added.
Though he deleted the video, the F.B.I. found a copy on Reddit.
Matthew gives us more news about Zip-Tie guys, whose motives must have been very dark:
While Europe has been sleeping, Trump has been permanently banned from Twitter and internet sleuths have ID’d the two zip-tie guys, one of whom was there with his mother… check out @jsrailton for the dope.
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) January 9, 2021
A horrible thought crossed my mind: many of the crimes these people were accused of are federal crimes. That means that Trump could pardon those people (he can’t pardon people for D.C. crimes). Would he do that?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has threatened to call for a vote on impeaching Trump if he doesn’t resign “immediately.” It’s clear that Pence is not going to invoke the 25th Amendment, nor could he get a majority of cabinet members to support that action. I suspect this will all come to nothing given that a 2/3 majority of the Senate, now mostly Republican, would be required for a successful impeachment. However—and I didn’t know this until recently—the procedure can go ahead, and even if Trump is out of office, if he’s convicted in the Senate he couldn’t hold any federal political office for the rest of his life.
In a final display of petulance, the Orange Man has also declared that he won’t go to Biden’s inauguration (Biden says that this is the first time he actually agrees with Trump.) I thought that Trump been permanently banned from Twitter but this doesn’t look like it (UPDATE: Twitter announced yesterday that Trump has now been permanently banned). You can see this by trying to go to Trump’s site, but I have a screenshot of one of his last tweets:
If you go to his former site, you now see this:
He won’t be the first President to skip an inauguration, but will be the first in 150 years:
Only three presidents have skipped their successor’s swearing-in: John Adams in 1801, his son John Quincy Adams in 1829 and Andrew Johnson, a Democrat who sat out the 1869 inauguration after he was replaced in favor of Republican Ulysses S. Grant. (An earlier version of this item incorrectly stated Mr. Johnson’s political affiliation.)
No word on whether Pence will attend.
The NYT piece below tells us the obvious: we didn’t evolve to deliberately exercise, because we got enough exercise in the ancestral lifestyle. Ergo, we don’t want to do what our genes didn’t evolve to make us do. Hatred of exercise is like loving sweets—a maladaptive byproduct of our ancestry.
What can one do though, since we’re no longer stalking tubers and mastodons but still need exercise? There’s a new book by Daniel Lieberman that helps, and the article recommends what kind of exercise we need. I suppose one could call it the “Paleo Workout.”
Yesterday a Pakistani Court sentenced three people to death for blasphemy (h/t Dom):
An Islamabad Anti-Terrorism Court sentenced three people to death for blasphemy on Friday.
Their alleged offences were committed on social media
A professor has also been sentenced to 10 years in jail and a Rs100,000 fine on the same charge. He was accused of making anti-religious remarks during a lecture.
The other three were accused of operating a social media page that was deemed insulting to religion. They allegedly committed blasphemy by posting things on social media.
And Iran is really looking for trouble. Yesterday, according to the Foreign Desk, the Iranian parliament voted officially to destroy Israel (h/t Malgorzata):
Iran’s parliament voted on a mandate to destroy the state of Israel Sunday, the anniversary of Qassem Soleimani’s assassination.
The mandate aims “to destroy the usurping Zionist regime” and “[break] the siege of Gaza by sending basic goods from official naval bases to Gaza in exchange for money or free of charge.”
Upon passage of the mandate into law, the Iranian regime will be obligated to pursue the “Right of return of Palestinian refugees” and the “Liberation of the Golan Heights” by providing “welfare-economic-security and infrastructures.”
I’m a regular reader of WEIT and an astronomer by training, so I shared your dismay at the astrology piece which was published in the Guardian on December 21. I wrote to the editor-in-chief Katharine Viner to express my disappointment, as a Guardian reader of almost 40 years, that such a piece should appear, especially at a time when the Guardian has published so many good pieces by doctors and scientists setting out the facts about Covid-19 to counter misinformation during the pandemic. I also told her that if any pro-astrology pieces appear in the future, I will cancel my subscription.
She replied yesterday as follows:
“I agree with you, and was disappointed to see the piece, which came from our US office. I’m told it was supposed to be about the growing influence of astrology among young people and was intended to be light-hearted, but it clearly didn’t come off. It shouldn’t happen again.”
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 369,390, a big increase of 3,900 deaths from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,924,037, a huge increase of about 15,400 death over yesterday’s total: a death rate of about 10.7 people per minute.
Stuff that happened on January 9 includes:
- 1349 – The Jewish population of Basel, believed by the residents to be the cause of the ongoing Black Death, is rounded up and incinerated.
- 1431 – The trial of Joan of Arc begins in Rouen.
A sidelight (from Wikipedia):
The trial record contains statements from Joan that the eyewitnesses later said astonished the court, since she was an illiterate peasant and yet was able to evade the theological pitfalls the tribunal had set up to entrap her. The transcript’s most famous exchange is an exercise in subtlety: “Asked if she knew she was in God’s grace, she answered, ‘If I am not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me. I should be the saddest creature in the world if I knew I were not in His grace.’ The question is a scholarly trap. Church doctrine held that no one could be certain of being in God’s grace. If she had answered yes, then she would have been charged with heresy. If she had answered no, then she would have confessed her own guilt. The court notary Boisguillaume later testified that at the moment the court heard her reply, “Those who were interrogating her were stupefied.”
There are no contemporary drawings of Joan of Arc by anybody who actually saw her, so we have no idea what she looked like. She was only 19 when she was burned at the stake on May 30 of that year. Here’s the only contemporary depiction by Clément de Fauquembergue, described by Wikipedia as ” a doodle on the margin of the protocol of the parliament of Paris, dated 10 May 1429.” de Fauquembergue never saw Joan, though:
- 1806 – Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson receives a state funeral and is interred in St Paul’s Cathedral.
- 1816 – Humphry Davy tests his safety lamp for miners at Hebburn Colliery.
- 1839 – The French Academy of Sciences announces the Daguerreotype photography process.
- 1909 – Ernest Shackleton, leading the Nimrod Expedition to the South Pole, plants the British flag 97 nautical miles (180 km; 112 mi) from the South Pole, the farthest anyone had ever reached at that time.
Here’s the flag planting (photo from Wikipedia). It was Amundsen’s team in 1911, followed by Scott’s a few months later, that finally made it to the Pole:
- 1916 – World War I: The Battle of Gallipoli concludes with an Ottoman Empire victory when the last Allied forces are evacuated from the peninsula.
- 1957 – British Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden resigns from office following his failure to retake the Suez Canal from Egyptian sovereignty.
- 2007 – Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduces the original iPhone at a Macworld keynote in San Francisco.
Here’s that first iPhone model under glass. My own iPhone is the 5S, which I prize for its small size (it fits in my pocket). It was discontinued in 2016, but I got one from stock at Apple, and also have an unused spare.
- 2015 – A mass poisoning at a funeral in Mozambique involving beer that was contaminated with Burkholderia gladioli leaves 75 dead and over 230 people ill.
B. gladioli is a bacterium, and the poisoning originated because the brewers used rotten cornflour to make the beverage, flour deemed unsuitable for food but okay for beer.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1875 – Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, American sculptor and art collector, founded the Whitney Museum of American Art (d. 1942)
- 1913 – Richard Nixon, American commander, lawyer, and politician, 37th President of the United States (d. 1994)
- 1935 – Bob Denver, American actor (d. 2005)
- 1941 – Joan Baez, American singer-songwriter, guitarist and activist
Baez is 80 today. Here she is with her erstwhile boyfriend:
Those who rested in peace, bereft of life, on January 9 were few, and include:
- 1848 – Caroline Herschel, German-English astronomer (b. 1750)
- 1923 – Katherine Mansfield, New Zealand novelist, short story writer, and essayist (b. 1888)
I spent part of the pandemic reading Mansfield’s collected short stories. She was a terrific writer, cut down at only 34 by tuberculosis:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron have a standoff!
Szaron: May I eat a bit from your bowl?Hili: Just you try!
Szaron: Czy mogę zjeść trochę z twojej miseczki?Hili: Spróbuj tylko!
And Little Kulka and Szaron have encounteered their first big snowfall. The frisking kitten is adorable.
Caption: Snow, two cats, and Paulina with her camera.
From Doc Bill. Do you want to look like Jake Angeli? Here’s how!
Found on Ann Althouse’s site:
I didn't support animal skin guy, but he is our new leader and we should give him a chance to grow in office https://t.co/Ci4SDaXJBi
— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) January 6, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. A Russian doll-type song. I guess each tweet was added to the preceding one, and the product is lovely. Sound up, of course.
SeaShantyTok keeps getting better pic.twitter.com/yWLEHzlPlB
— Peter Fries (@Peter_Fries) January 8, 2021
Cats will be cats—regardless of auditions:
this person trying to do an audition tape while their cat just wants attention pic.twitter.com/SC282aotCk
— will parry, bearer of the knife (@faayza) January 7, 2021
Yes, this is a prize-winner!
— The Artful Doodler (@richnairn) January 7, 2021
This guy was prescient (tweet from Dec. 21). Read the whole thread, as he was even more prescient than it looks:
On January 6, armed Trumpist militias will be rallying in DC, at Trump's orders. It's highly likely that they'll try to storm the Capitol after it certifies Joe Biden's win. I don't think this has sunk in yet.
— Arieh Kovler (@ariehkovler) December 21, 2020
A beautiful murmuration of. . . what species?
The most beautiful and coordinated murmuration I have ever seen… practically shimmering pic.twitter.com/llpg92RoNp
— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) January 8, 2021
Read the thread about this loon:
i wanted to find out what kind of guy drove this weird cartoon penis trailer to the trump rally so now i’m on his wife’s facebook watching a video of him berating the woman who empties his trash. he’s a small business owner & his wife works for jp morgan chase 🙂 pic.twitter.com/drhZhMwv0C
— molly conger (@socialistdogmom) January 8, 2021
And a bit of politics:
Oh India KNOWS how to write a headline. pic.twitter.com/jL3R9dQ2BD
— DR. KRUPALI 🇺🇸 (@krupali) January 8, 2021