We had our first big snow last night, and it’s still coming down. I estimate about 7 inches so far, but it may get up to a foot. Here’s a shot on my way to work:
Welcome to Sunday, January 31, 2021. National Hot Chocolate Day (I’m drinking some now, with two shots of espresso and plenty of miniature marshmallows!). It’s also a day for a bad libation and a bad comestible: Brandy Alexander Day and (OMG) Eat Brussel Sprouts Day. On a better note, it’s Scotch Tape Day, celebrating the day in 1930 when 3M began marketing the miracle tape, and Inspire Your Heart with Art Day. Here’s the world’s best painting:
News of the Day:
In a NYT op-ed that attributed the frenzy of school renaming in San Francisco to a pandemic-caused pause in the pursuit of normal activities, Ross Douthat gives a link to a Google spreadsheet giving the committee’s reasons for renaming 44 schools. He also says this:
After the vote, I spent some time reading the Google spreadsheet helpfully compiled by the renaming effort, which listed the justification for each erasure: for Washington, slave-owning; for Revere, helping to command a doomed Revolutionary War military operation on the Maine coast that nonetheless supposedly contributed to the “colonization” of the Penobscot tribe; for Stevenson, writing a “cringeworthy poem” that includes words like “Eskimo” and “Japanee.” (It may not surprise you that some of these justifications, often pulled from Wikipedia, included significant errors of historical fact.)
Trump’s second impeachment trial is set to begin February 8, presided over by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), now out of the hospital where he was sent for muscle spasms. Why isn’t Chief Justice John Roberts in charge again? Because reasons (as the kids say):
Chief Justice John Roberts oversaw the first Trump impeachment trial, as required by the Constitution. But the law is silent on who presides over the trial of a former president, and the chief justice declined to participate in this one, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), who said that Mr. Leahy was next in line for the role as president pro tempore of the Senate.
“Sen. Leahy’s job is a little tougher in that he doesn’t come into it with the basic presumption of impartiality that normally attaches to a judge,” said Frank Bowman, a University of Missouri law professor who is an authority on impeachment. “He’s going to have to strain to appear evenhanded in any circumstance where there is sort of a partisan valence to any decision that he makes.”
But it really doesn’t matter: Trump is not going to be convicted. The trial also looks to be pretty short: a week or less.
Speaking of the trial, CNN reports that all five of the attorneys Trump took on to defend him during the impeachment trial have quit. He is now without legal representation, and with the trial set for about a week from now. The reason? Well, here’s a possible one:
A person familiar with the departures told CNN that Trump wanted the attorneys to argue there was mass election fraud and that the election was stolen from him rather than focus on the legality of convicting a president after he’s left office. Trump was not receptive to the discussions about how they should proceed in that regard.
An exciting story from HuffPost (not!), using their cringemaking clickbait. Click on screenshot. Isn’t “they got arrested, not antifa” clever? (Not!)
A food writer at the Washington Post published an endearing and mouthwatering essay on the advantages of being a regular at a food emporium or restaurant, especially during the pandemic.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 439,421, an increase of about 2,700 deaths over yesterday’s figure. We are likely to exceed half a million deaths by March. The reported world death toll stands at 2,230,914, an increase of about 12,900 deaths over yesterday’s tota—about 9 deaths per minute.
Stuff that happened on January 31 includes:
- 1606 – Gunpowder Plot: Four of the conspirators, including Guy Fawkes, are executed for treason by hanging, drawing and quartering, for plotting against Parliament and King James.
- 1747 – The first venereal diseases clinic opens at London Lock Hospital.
- 1865 – American Civil War: The United States Congress passes the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, abolishing slavery and submits it to the states for ratification.
- 1865 – American Civil War: Confederate General Robert E. Lee becomes general-in-chief.
After his appointment, Lee was busy creating units of slaves to fight the Union. Oy!
- 1915 – World War I: Germany is the first to make large-scale use of poison gas in warfare in the Battle of Bolimów against Russia.
As Wikipedia notes, this wasn’t successful: “The Battle of Bolimów was the first attempt by the Germans at a large-scale use of poison gas; the eighteen thousand gas shells they fired proved unsuccessful when the xylyl bromide—a type of tear gas—was blown back at their own lines. The gas caused few, if any, casualties, however, since the cold weather caused it to freeze, rendering it ineffective.”
- 1928 – Leon Trotsky is exiled to Alma-Ata.
- 1945 – US Army private Eddie Slovik is executed for desertion, the first such execution of an American soldier since the Civil War.
Here’s Slovik. “Although 21,000 American soldiers were given varying sentences for desertion during World War II, including 49 death sentences, Slovik’s death sentence was the only one that was carried out.” He was 24.
- 1945 – World War II: About 3,000 inmates from the Stutthof concentration camp are forcibly marched into the Baltic Sea at Palmnicken (now Yantarny, Russia) and executed.
- 1949 – These Are My Children, the first television daytime soap opera, is broadcast by the NBC station in Chicago.
- 1950 – President Truman orders the development of thermonuclear weapons.
- 1971 – Apollo program: Apollo 14: Astronauts Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, and Edgar Mitchell, aboard a Saturn V, lift off for a mission to the Fra Mauro Highlands on the Moon.
Here’s Shepard on the Moon; as a Mercury astronaut, he was also the first American to travel into space (1961, only ten years before).
- 2001 – In the Netherlands, a Scottish court convicts Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and acquits another Libyan citizen for their part in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.
- 2020 – The United Kingdom‘s membership within the European Union ceases in accordance with Article 50, after 47 years of being a member state.
It’s the first anniversary of Brexit!
Notables born on this day include:
- 1797 – Franz Schubert, Austrian pianist and composer (d. 1828)
- 1872 – Zane Grey, American author (d. 1939)
- 1929 – Rudolf Mössbauer, German physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2011)
- 1931 – Ernie Banks, American baseball player and coach (d. 2015)
Known as “Mr. Cub”, Banks played his entire career with the Chicago Cubs, form 1953 to 1971. He was one of the greatest players ever (and voted by fans as the “Best Cub of all Time”), but he never played in a World Series:
- 1937 – Suzanne Pleshette, American actress (d. 2008)
- 1947 – Nolan Ryan, American baseball player
- 1981 – Justin Timberlake, American singer-songwriter, dancer, and actor
Those who hied themselves underground on January 31 include:
- 1606 – Guy Fawkes, English conspirator, leader of the Gunpowder Plot (b. 1570)
- 1888 – John Bosco, Italian priest and educator, founded the Salesian Society (b. 1815)
- 1956 – A. A. Milne, English author, poet, and playwright, created Winnie-the-Pooh (b. 1882)
- 1969 – Meher Baba, Indian spiritual master (b. 1894)
Here’s Meher Baba with his famous slogan. I have this photo on my wall beside my desk, having put it up in a vain attempt to be happy:
- 1999 – Giant Baba, Japanese wrestler and trainer, co-founded All Japan Pro Wrestling (b. 1938) [JAC: Not related to the aforementioned Baba]
Giant Baba is on the left. Perhaps Meher Baba should have been called “Mini Baba”:
- 2007 – Molly Ivins, American journalist and author (b. 1944)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is already sick of winter:
Hili: There used to be green grass everywhere.A: It will return.Hili: Let it hurry.
Hili: Tu wszędzie była zielona trawa.Ja: Będzie znowu.Hili: Niech się pospieszy.
And here’s Szaron, washing his face upside-down:
From Ken, a post that requires a preliminary explanation:
As you make recall, when environmental activist Greta Thunberg was named Time Magazine Person of the Year, a jealous Donald Trump first tweeted that she needed to “work on her Anger Management problem” [random majuscules in original] then later followed up with a sarcastic, “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”
Ms. Thunberg has responded in kind:
A twist on a familiar meme, sent in by Mark:
A true science meme from Ginger K.:
— Nicolas Ρicard (@profnpicard) January 27, 2021
Ricky Gervais loves his kitty, which is a good sign. His name is Pickle. Here are three tweets showing the moggy, with the first being the official announcement of his name.
— Jane Fallon (@JaneFallon) October 8, 2020
The second shows the “scrumble”, a tummy rub (sound up).
Let’s Get Ready To Scrumble! pic.twitter.com/Ca2R9ghGTu
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) January 30, 2021
And the “skritch”:
Have a great weekend. pic.twitter.com/mbUICV98X2
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) January 29, 2021
Simon sends a wily and lazy cat:
Cat macrofluidics pic.twitter.com/Xhi7ncIeE5
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) January 30, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. First, a weird forest of sponges on stalks (second one is a video):
This is The Forest of the Weird, a reef of deep-sea sponges first filmed by @oceanexplorer. Each sponge is facing the current, to capture food carried in the water…
📽️ https://t.co/Lw2h3KUsyH pic.twitter.com/WEiC7ClvQL
— Open Ocean Exploration (@RebeccaRHelm) January 21, 2021
A d*g saves the day!
זה הדבר הכי טוב שראיתי היום. pic.twitter.com/aMoSvPHhqF
— Higgs Bozo (@HiggsBozoEffect) January 22, 2021
This takes real skill:
Ancient Art "One Stroke Painting" reborn in this Dragon by Keisuke Teshima pic.twitter.com/5bIdciWIXb
— Gabriele Corno (@Gabriele_Corno) January 22, 2021
A three-species interaction (see more pictures of the event here):
A little drongo lands on the back of a crescent serpent eagle… who was minding its own business clutching its catch…. a snake!
📸 Wildlife photographer Liu Chia-Pin pic.twitter.com/dSyAzVWIjz
— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) January 29, 2021
My guess would be about the age of thirty.
My son Billy asked me a really tough question.
“Dad I’m 14 and I can’t wait to be OLDER…
Loads of older people want to be YOUNGER…
At what age does that change?
WHEN is the tipping point?
This wasn’t even homeschooling we were just watching telly!@IMcMillan pic.twitter.com/3JOzslOVrz
— BIGIAN.co.uk #APocketfulOfKindness (@trainingcarers) January 30, 2021