Welcome to another damn week; it’s Monday, January 18, 2021: National Gourmet Coffee Day, which should be every day (life’s too short to drink bad coffee). But it’s also an important federal holiday: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (he was actually born on January 15), so everyone’s off work (save me) and there’s no mail. Were King alive, he’d be 92 today, and we all wonder what he’d have to say about civil rights. Would he still emphasize the content of one’s character over the color of one’s skin? The New York Times has enlisted one of his sons to suggest that King would be with modern civil-right protestors.
There’s a special Google Doodle for Martin Luther King Day; click on the screenshot:
In honor of King, a hero on the order of Gandhi (yes, both men were flawed, but who isn’t?), I’m putting up the best (non-folk) song ever written about civil rights. Indeed, it’s one of the best soul songs of all time. Behold Sam Cooke with his own composition from 1964: the year of the Civil Rights Act:
The characters in Milne’s books were actually named after his son Christopher’s stuffed toys, and they still remain (except for Roo): here’s a photo of the originals, which you can see at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in New York City. The caption: “Original Winnie-the-Pooh stuffed toys. Clockwise from bottom left: Tigger, Kanga, Edward Bear (“Winnie-the-Pooh”), Eeyore, and Piglet. Roo was lost long ago.” Eeyore is my spirit animal.
News of the Day:
Oy! CNN reports that Trump is going to issue around 100 pardons tomorrow, his last day in office. An excerpt:
President Donald Trump is preparing to issue around 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, according to three people familiar with the matter, a major batch of clemency actions that includes white collar criminals, high-profile rappers and others but — as of now — is not expected to include Trump himself.
. . . The final batch of clemency actions is expected to include a mix of criminal justice reform-minded pardons and more controversial ones secured or doled out to political allies.
Imagine the basket of deplorables who will either go free or become free from indictment! Trump will be able to issue pardons until noon on Inauguration Day.
Russian dissident Alexander Navalny, after being poisoned by Putin’s acolytes and having miraculously survived, has returned to Russia, where he was immediately detained and taken away. That is a brave man! Will we ever see him again?
Phil Spector died of complications of Covid-19 yesterday; he was 81 and In prison for shooting nightclub hostess Lana Clarkson. At one time he was the King of Music Producers, famed for his big-noise “wall of sound” behind singers (he also produced the Beatles’ last album, Let It Be). The NYT reports:
Mr. Spector single-handedly created the image of the record producer as auteur, a creative force equal to or even greater than his artists, with an instantly identifiable aural brand.
“There were songwriter-producers before him, but no one did the whole thing like Phil,” the songwriter and producer Jerry Leiber told Rolling Stone in 2005. Mr. Leiber, who died in 2011, and Mr. Spector served a brief but crucial apprenticeship together at Atlantic Records.
. . . “He was everything,” Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys told an interviewer for the British documentary “Endless Harmony: The Beach Boys Story.” He called Mr. Spector “the biggest inspiration in my entire life.” To John Lennon, he was “the greatest record producer ever.” (Greater than George Martin?)
Here’s an example of Spector’s wall of sound:
Exciting philatelic and mail news!!!! The U.S. is issuing a pre-stamped mallard postcard this year! Be sure to buy a big supply (it has “forever” postage). Here it is (h/t: Roger); I have to say that they never show the hens as the colorful drakes are more attractive. I would have preferred Honey, though. It’s always the drakes who are pictured; the females get the shaft but I love them more.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 397,612, an increase of about 1,800 deaths from yesterday’s figure. In two days we’ll pass 400,000 deaths: double what the most pessimistic pundits thought we’d have. The world death toll stands at 2,041,016, an increase of about 7,700 deaths over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on January 18 includes:
- 1778 – James Cook is the first known European to discover the Hawaiian Islands, which he names the “Sandwich Islands”.
- 1788 – The first elements of the First Fleet carrying 736 convicts from Great Britain to Australia arrive at Botany Bay.
- 1886 – Modern field hockey is born with the formation of The Hockey Association in England.
- 1896 – An X-ray generating machine is exhibited for the first time by H. L. Smith.
Wikipedia tells us what the different colors mean when your baggage is screened:
The colour of the image displayed depends upon the material and material density : organic material such as paper, clothes and most explosives are displayed in orange. Mixed materials such as aluminum are displayed in green. Inorganic materials such as copper are displayed in blue and non-penetrable items are displayed in black (some machines display this as a yellowish green or red). The darkness of the color depends upon the density or thickness of the material.
- 1919 – World War I: The Paris Peace Conference opens in Versailles, France.
- 1943 – Warsaw Ghetto Uprising: The first uprising of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto.
- 1967 – Albert DeSalvo, the “Boston Strangler”, is convicted of numerous crimes and is sentenced to life imprisonment.
DeSalvo was stabbed to death in prison in 1973.
- 1977 – Scientists identify a previously unknown bacterium as the cause of the mysterious Legionnaires’ disease.
Here’s the bacterium, Legionella pneumophila:
- 1983 – The International Olympic Committee restores Jim Thorpe’s Olympic medals to his family.
- 1990 – Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry is arrested for drug possession in an FBI sting.
- 1993 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is officially observed for the first time in all 50 US states.
- 2008 – The Euphronios Krater is unveiled in Rome after being returned to Italy by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Here’s a picture of that beautiful Greek vase, created by Euphronios about 515 B.C. Some information from Wikipedia:
The Euphronios Krater (or Sarpedon Krater) is an ancient Greek terra cotta calyx-krater, a bowl used for mixing wine with water. Created around the year 515 BC, it is the only complete example of the surviving 27 vases painted by the renowned Euphronios and is considered one of the finest Greek vase artifacts in existence. Part of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1972 to 2008, the vase was repatriated to Italy under an agreement negotiated in February 2006, and it is now in the collection of the Archaeological Museum of Cerveteri as part of a strategy of returning stolen works of art to their place of origin
Notables born on this day include:
- 1689 – Montesquieu, French lawyer and philosopher (d. 1755)
- 1782 – Daniel Webster, American lawyer and politician, 14th United States Secretary of State (d. 1852)
- 1880 – Paul Ehrenfest, Austrian-Dutch physicist and academic (d. 1933)
- 1882 – A. A. Milne, English author, poet, and playwright (d. 1956) [See above].
Here’s Milne with his son Christopher Robin and some plushies. I don’t think the penguin made it into the Pooh books, but you can see the original Pooh bear!
- 1892 – Oliver Hardy, American actor and comedian (d. 1957)
- 1904 – Cary Grant, English-American actor (d. 1986)
- 1941 – David Ruffin, American singer (d. 1991)
Ruffin was the lead singer of The Temptations, producing some of the finest soul music of our time (e.g., “My Girl” and the fantastic song below):
Those who decamped from life on January 18 include:
- 1862 – John Tyler, American soldier, lawyer, and politician, 10th President of the United States (b. 1790)
- 1936 – Rudyard Kipling, English author and poet, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1865)
- 1952 – Curly Howard, American actor (b. 1903)
Howard’s real name was Jerome Lester Horowitz. Like his brothers Moe and Shemp, he was Jewish, but so was Larry (Larry Fine). Curly died at only 48 after multiple strokes.
- 1989 – Bruce Chatwin, English-French author (b. 1940)
- 2016 – Glenn Frey, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (b. 1948)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili, now a matron, goes down into the basement to ponder her youth:
Hili: I often sat in this armchair in my youth.A: But it’s cold in the basement.Hili: Never mind, it’s nice to reminisce on old furniture about old times.
Hili: Na tym fotelu często siedziałam w młodości.Ja: Ale w piwnicy jest zimno.Hili: Nie szkodzi, na starych meblach miło się wspomina dawne czasy.
And little Kulka was outside for the past few days, but now it’s too cold:
Caption: It’s crackling cold outside, -18°C. (Picture, of course, by Paulina)
A headline from Stash Krod. It is indeed a real article, even if it’s fake news. Read it!
. . . and another from Stash Krod, with an allusion to the Capitol siege:
Tweets from Matthew. The first is a stunning find, and I hope the mutants can run fast enough from predators. Note that the “dwarves” have relatively short legs, as with dwarf mutations in other species. Below the tweet I’ve put a picture from the article showing adult males of normal size and a putative mutant.
“Mini Giraffes Spotted In Africa For The First Time Ever” by 𝐆𝐫𝐫𝐥𝐒𝐜𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐬𝐭, scientist & writerhttps://t.co/veq87KoCwo
— Ann Gibbons (@evolutionscribe) January 17, 2021
This looks like easy prey for big cats, who tend to go after juveniles. Further, can those males mate with normal-sized females? Or vice versa?
And what a great tribute:
#OTD 1-17-1997 Clyde Tombaugh, Discoverer of the 9th Planet, departed this life. He left behind a legacy that would never die, & he did it in style: a portion of his ashes are zooming across the S. System on board #NewHorizons. You got to see your #Pluto after all, Clyde.😊#Space pic.twitter.com/GMsEmcOwZz
— The Pluto Diaries (@Plutoliveshere) January 17, 2021
Go to this link to see the wildlife video; the place was TEEMING with hummingbirds yesterday.
Now’s a good time to watch the live cam I set up at @SeptimoParaisoM … the Tayra have visited, but there’s still bananas left and the hummingbird feeder is full! Lots of amazing birds will appear.. I have a few to add to the ID list, thanks to @robsrw 🙂https://t.co/m7AGqGEl7V pic.twitter.com/MkQaPIuRaA
— WildlifeKate (@katemacrae) January 17, 2021
This guy already lost his pledge twice, so he’s now a castrato. Or should be, but I doubt he kept his promise.
So is he donating both… or? pic.twitter.com/hLphfUfvny
— Santiago Mayer (@santiagomayer_) January 17, 2021
Here’s the American version of The Giant’s Causeway:
The Devil's Postpile formation is a large columnar basalt formation located in Madera County, California.
(Photo: Forrest Hopson) pic.twitter.com/lti1ZkGv1c
— Nature Is Weird (@NaturelsWeird) January 17, 2021
Here’s a centenarian being greeted by the Queen, who’s approaching a century herself. Matthew told me this, but I already knew it: ‘Context: when you are 100 (like this lady) you get a card (used to be a telegram) from the Queen.”
— No Context Scouse (@NoContextScouse) January 16, 2021
This is a wonderful thread; I can show but three of the photos, but be sure to look at the others:
Animals interrupting wildlife photographers. A thread:
1. 📸 Dan Dinu pic.twitter.com/FYfohHAucq
— Joaquim Campa (@JoaquimCampa) January 17, 2021
— Joaquim Campa (@JoaquimCampa) January 17, 2021