It’s the Sabbath for cats and Jewish people: Saturday, January 23, 2021, and National Pie Day. It’s also National Rhubarb Pie Day, the worst pastry ever invented. I have no truck with this pie (the odious rhubarb is often mixed with strawberries, to the great detriment of the latter), though I know some people favor this gritty, sour vegetable in pies. It’s also National Handwriting Day. I notice that mine has degenerated over the years, perhaps due to either age or my complete failure to write anything by hand in the age of computers.
Wine of the Day: Here we have an inexpensive ($10-15) and delicious Italian wine, the Sartarelli Verdicchio Castelli Di Jesi Classico from 2019, made from the Verdicchio grape and the first example I’ve ever had (quaffed with an omelette made with tomatoes and Tilamook aged sharp cheddar) The wine was surprisingly viscous and extremely fruity, with notes of orange blossom, honey, and peach; and it was slightly off-dry. I’d think that this would be the ideal accompaniment to spicy Indian or Chinese food, though I usually take those with beer. If you see this one, do snap it up. It’s a great bargain.
News of the Day:
The BBC reports that in Nigeria, a 13 year old boy, sentenced to a decade in jail for “making uncomplimentary remarks about God during an argument with a friend in northern Kano state,” has had his sentence overturned by a secular appeals court. (Kano is one of the states that has a parallel system of Sharia law.) The court also overturned a death sentence against a man “for using lyrics deemed blasphemous against the Prophet Muhammad.” The singer will be retried, but the 13-year old better get his tuches out of Nigeria. Others are still serving long sentences for blasphemy—a travesty in this day and age.
Over at the Washington Post, George Conway III, a co-founder of the Republican Lincoln Project (and spouse of Kellyanne Conway), has a long essay about what criminal charges Trump may face as a private citizen. Conway, who thinks the President’s behavior was indeed criminal, goes through all the possibilities, none of which seem to include a Presidential pardon. A quote:
“. . . Trump is the extreme case. He has proved that over and over again. Bringing him to whatever justice he may deserve is, now more than ever, essential to vindicating the rule of law, which, now more than ever, must be a critical governing policy of the new administration. Vindication of the rule of law is precisely why many Americans, including myself, voted for Biden.”
After lots of waffling and intimations about when Trump’s impeachment trial will begin (it was first said to be immediate, then within two weeks), Chuck Schumer has announced that, by bipartisan agreement, Trump’s trial will start on February 9. I still think the trial is a good idea, although I’d bet a fair amount that Trump won’t be convicted. As is becoming more clear, Republicans simply won’t vote for it. But a trial will still be a reminder that there must be an accounting if a President engages in the kind of actions that Trump did. I do wonder if the Senate can bar Trump for life from holding federal office.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 414,170, large increase of about 3,900 deaths over yesterday’s figure. We may past half a million deaths in less than a month. The world death toll stands at 2,118,135, a big increase of about 15,800 deaths over yesterday’s total, or abut 11 deaths per minute.
Stuff that happened on January 23 includes:
- 393 – Roman Emperor Theodosius I proclaims his eight-year-old son Honorius co-emperor.
- 1556 – The deadliest earthquake in history, the Shaanxi earthquake, hits Shaanxi province, China. The death toll may have been as high as 830,000.
- 1849 – Elizabeth Blackwell is awarded her M.D. by the Geneva Medical College of Geneva, New York, becoming the United States’ first female doctor.
Blackwell, a great feminist, spent her early career organizing clinics and hospitals, and later engaged in many varieties of social reform. Here’s a photo:
- 1937 – The trial of the anti-Soviet Trotskyist center sees seventeen mid-level Communists accused of sympathizing with Leon Trotsky and plotting to overthrow Joseph Stalin‘s regime.
Every one of the defendants was found guilty and given nine grams of lead in the head in the cellars of the Lubyanka. Trotsky, who had escaped, later got an ice pick in the head.
- 1941 – Charles Lindbergh testifies before the U.S. Congress and recommends that the United States negotiate a neutrality pact with Adolf Hitler.
If anyone should be canceled, it should be Lindbergh, who was a Nazi sympathizer. But of course we don’t hear a peep. Here’s a very short video Lindberg urging the U.S. to stay out of World War II.
- 1950 – The Knesset resolves that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
- 1957 – American inventor Walter Frederick Morrison sells the rights to his flying disc to the Wham-O toy company, which later renames it the “Frisbee”.
Here’s Morrison, in a mock space suit, promoting his discs, then called the “Pluto Platters”, in the 1950s. Now, of course, they’re called Frisbees.
- 1986 – The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts its first members: Little Richard, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.
- 2002 – U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl is kidnapped in Karachi, Pakistan and subsequently murdered.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1737 – John Hancock, American general and politician, 1st Governor of Massachusetts (d. 1793)
- 1783 – Stendhal, French novelist (d. 1842)
- 1832 – Édouard Manet, French painter (d. 1883)
Here’s Manet’s “Woman with a Cat” (ca. 1880):
Hilbert was a mathematical polymath(ematician), and here he is looking quite natty:
- 1897 – Subhas Chandra Bose, Indian freedom fighter and politician (d. 1945)
- 1964 – Mariska Hargitay, American actress and producer
Hargitay played the character Olivia Benson on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and Taylor Swift named one of her cats, a Scottish Fold, after Benson. Here Olivia Benson meets Olivia Benson.
Those who snuffed it on January 23 include:
- 1516 – Ferdinand II of Aragon (b. 1452)
- 1803 – Arthur Guinness, Irish brewer, founded Guinness (b. 1725)
- 1883 – Gustave Doré, French engraver and illustrator (b. 1832)
Doré is one of my favorite illustrators. Here’s his version of Puss in Boots (notice the mouse hanging from his belt):
- 1944 – Edvard Munch, Norwegian painter and illustrator (b. 1863)
- 1947 – Pierre Bonnard, French painter (b. 1867)
Here’s Bonnard’s “The White Cat”, a bit etiolated!
Here’s Robeson, a hero of mine, singing to Scottish miners. The Youtube notes:
Extract from Mining Review 2nd Year No. 11 (1949) The highlight of this 1949 issue is the visit of American actor and singer Paul Robeson to Woolmet Colliery near Edinburgh. Robeson was also a renowned (and often persecuted) left-wing political activist and he made several visits to British mining communities. On this occasion he sings “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night” for miners in the canteen, a song about an American trade unionist who was allegedly framed on a murder charge and executed in 1915. Robeson had long been something of a hero to the British mining community, ever since he starred in the film Proud Valley (d. Pen Tennyson, 1940) as an American sailor stranded in Cardiff who finds work in a Welsh colliery (the newsreel opens with a short clip from the film).
If the clip below doesn’t play, go here.
- 1985 – James Beard, American chef and cookbook author for whom the James Beard Foundation Awards are named (b.1905)
- 1989 – Salvador Dalí, Spanish painter and sculptor (b. 1904)
- 2004 – Helmut Newton, German-Australian photographer (b. 1920)
Newton was a great fashion photographer. Here’s one of his photos (I can’t identify the model).
- 2011 – Jack LaLanne, American fitness instructor, author, and television host (b. 1914)
- 2015 – Ernie Banks, American baseball player and coach (b. 1931)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is weary from the day’s editing, but Andrzej soldiers on.
Hili: Maybe we could switch off the computer and go to sleep?A: Just let me read this article.
Hili: Może zgasimy już ten komputer i pójdziemy spać?Ja: Pozwól mi tylko przeczytać ten artykuł.
Kulka’s out in the snow again. She can’t be stopped:
Two inauguration memes. Good for Garth Brooks: after all, he’s a country singer!
And, from Jean, the best take yet on Bernie In Mittens:
A fake Time Magazine cover sent by Bruce:
Here’s a guy who trained his dogs to pray before eating! I guess he doesn’t know that Catholic philosopher Edward Feser asserts that dogs can’t go to Heaven.
This is what my dad sends me Lmaoo it’s cute though pic.twitter.com/DnmD8U6XB6
— AVELINA 🇩🇴 (@avelinacipion) January 19, 2021
A tweet from Simon, who said, “I know it’s dogs, but he looks so much better!”
Dr. Fauci before and after being rescued by the Biden administration. pic.twitter.com/phGy8DVJL2
— Marji Hope Esquire🇺🇸 #BidenHarris #WinTheSenate (@nuggetmommy) January 22, 2021
From Barry: “A male cardinal and a bronze cat”:
— DiamondLynne (@DiamondLynne1) January 22, 2021
President Biden has removed the Diet Coke button. When @ShippersUnbound and I interviewed Donald Trump in 2019, we became fascinated by what the little red button did. Eventually Trump pressed it, and a butler swiftly brought in a Diet Coke on a silver platter. It's gone now. pic.twitter.com/rFzhPaHYjk
— Tom Newton Dunn (@tnewtondunn) January 21, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. As somebody said, you don’t stand on the shoulders of giants to accomplish good science—you stand on the shoulders of a whole crowd.
Gregory Gregoriadis was more pleased than most to learn he was getting the Pfizer vaccine. 50 years ago he pioneered the lipid particles used to deliver it.
A reminder that amazing science can only happen in a year because of decades of work. https://t.co/TjhkuTNOLW
— whippletom (@whippletom) January 22, 2021
Well, everyone makes mistakes. This one could be seen as a double entendre:
I regret to inform you that Chuck Schumer just said ‘erection’ instead of ‘insurrection’ on the Senate floor pic.twitter.com/U5xRRnkaQg
— Dave Jamieson (@jamieson) January 22, 2021
I can’t vouch for this, but if it’s wrong I’ll let Matthew take the heat:
Around a third of songbirds have just one song type in their repertoire; 20% have over five
Brown thrashers can have >2,000! The Frank Zappa of birdspic.twitter.com/lQBFzxvMnZ
— Ben Chapman (@zoologychapman) January 22, 2021
Bemused ducks! My ducks, too, get puzzled when they fly into the frozen pond and skid upon landing.
— silver forest.h (@silverfrost_h) January 20, 2021