Good morning on a freezing day in Chicago. Right now (6 a.m.), the temperature is 7°F, or -14°C, and Botany Pond is nearly frozen over. And here are the week’s predicted temperatures in both Fahrenheit and Celsius, in that order. Both high and low temperatures are shown:
The highest high temperature for this week is only 23°F (-5°C), and it will be even colder as there will be wind chill. Note three days have predictions of snow. OY!
It’s the Sabbath: Saturday, February 6, 2021, and National Chopsticks Day at Foodimentary. I use the utensils several times a week, but chopsticks are not food! It’s also International Pisco Sour Day (a good drink), Ice Cream for Breakfast Day, National Frozen Yogurt Day (wasn’t that yesterday as well?), Lame Duck Day, noting the day in when the Twentieth Amendment (dealing with when Presidential terms begin and end) was passed, and International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. In California it’s a state holiday, Ronald Reagan Day: the Gipper was born on this day in 1911.
News of the Day:
Most important: WISDOM DID IT AGAIN! What a bird! 70 years old and with a new chick. Matthew tells me that among mammals, only humans and orcas have menopause, and clearly albatrosses don’t, either.
WOW: The world’s oldest known, banded wild bird, Wisdom, has hatched another egg! She’s at least 70 years old & has raised over 30 chicks in her lifetime https://t.co/39iXtExdPQ
Pic by Jon Brack, Friends of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge pic.twitter.com/CaMCvh8ZAK
— US Department of the Interior (@Interior) February 5, 2021
Johnson & Johnson has requested emergency FDA approval of its Covid-19 vaccine, which is expected quickly. The vaccine has a 66% effectiveness against the virus, compared to 95% for the two mRNA jabs, but requires only a single dose and can be shipped and stored at refrigerator temperature. Anthony Fauci has advised Americans to get whatever vaccine is offered to them first.
In England, tests on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine show it to have between 75% and 85% effectiveness, depending on the Covid strain, and it’s very effective against the dreaded South African variant.
The New York Times has fired two big-name reporters after “scandals.” One of them, Donald McNeil, did not deserve to be fired and his treatment by the Times, who initially defended him, was shameful. More on that later. The paper is absolutely hopeless, mired in a wokeness so extreme it’s destroying its reputation.
Kamala Harris cast her first tie-breaking vote in the Senate, on an amendment proposed by Chuck Schumer to Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package, which itself seems headed for approval. From the NYT:
But it was at 5:34 a.m., 95 minutes before the sun rose in Washington, that [Harris] broke the tie that mattered.
“On this vote, the yeas are 50, the nays are 50,” she said. “The Senate being equally divided, the vice president votes in the affirmative and the concurrent resolution as amended is adopted.”
There was no mistaking the weight of those words. They advanced a hugely impactful piece of legislation, of course. But they also signaled that for two years to come, the single most influential voice in the United States may be that of Ms. Harris declaring, in the stiltedly third-person language of Senate procedure, which way the vice president votes.
Shortly before heading to the floor to vote, Harris wrote a note to Dianne Feinstein for reaching her 9,000th Senate vote, a landmark that didn’t matter to San Francisco, who erased Feinstein’s name from a public school last week.
Has anybody heard from Trump? Reading the news, it’s as if he no longer exists, and that’s fine with me.
Stuff that happened on February 6 includes:
- AD 60 – The earliest date for which the day of the week is known. A graffito in Pompeii identifies this day as a dies Solis (Sunday), by a system in which Sunday corresponds to the day of the week this day would have in modern reckoning: Wednesday.
I tried to find a photo of the “dies Solis” graffito, but failed. Readers can help if they wish.
- 1819 – Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles founds Singapore.
- 1820 – The first 86 African American immigrants sponsored by the American Colonization Society depart New York to start a settlement in present-day Liberia.
- 1840 – Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, establishing New Zealand as a British colony.
The treaty (below) was signed by both British and Māori representatives, but the text, in both languages, differs, and that led to arguments about land and governance, which led to the subsequent New Zealand Wars of 1845-1872.
- 1843 – The first minstrel show in the United States, The Virginia Minstrels, opens (Bowery Amphitheatre in New York City).
- 1862 – American Civil War: Forces under the command of Ulysses S. Grant and Andrew H. Foote give the Union its first victory of the war, capturing Fort Henry, Tennessee in the Battle of Fort Henry.
- 1918 – British women over the age of 30 who meet minimum property qualifications, get the right to vote when Representation of the People Act 1918 is passed by Parliament.
- 1952 – Elizabeth II becomes Queen of the United Kingdom and her other Realms and Territories and Head of the Commonwealth upon the death of her father, George VI. At the exact moment of succession, she was in a tree house at the Treetops Hotel in Kenya.
For the royal lovers among you (most of our British readers seem to approve of retaining the Royal Family), here’s a photo of Elizabeth after her coronation:
- 1958 – Eight Manchester United F.C. players and 15 other passengers are killed in the Munich air disaster.
- 1978 – The Blizzard of 1978, one of the worst Nor’easters in New England history, hit the region, with sustained winds of 65 mph and snowfall of four inches an hour.
I remember this well, as I lived in Cambridge, MA at the time. The snow, after it was plowed, was still at the level of the tops of parked cars. Everything came to a standstill, and students were doing downhill skiing on the huge piles of plowed snow in Harvard Square. I have photos, but they’re in slides.
- 1988 – Michael Jordan makes his signature slam dunk from the free throw line inspiring Air Jordan and the Jumpman logo.
Here’s a video of that contest:
- 1998 – Washington National Airport is renamed Ronald Reagan National Airport.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1756 – Aaron Burr, American colonel and politician, 3rd Vice President of the United States (d. 1836)
- 1895 – Babe Ruth, American baseball player and coach (d. 1948)
- 1911 – Ronald Reagan, American actor and politician, 40th President of the United States (d. 2004)
- 1912 – Eva Braun, German wife of Adolf Hitler (d. 1945)
Here’s Eva and H*tler. Both of them loved dogs. They were married as the Russians closed in on the Hitler Bunker, and committed suicide one day later. Hitler had his dog, Blondi, poisoned with cyanide and her puppies shot. Since this photo is from 1942, the German Shepherd is Blondi.
- 1913 – Mary Leakey, English-Kenyan archaeologist and anthropologist (d. 1996)
- 1940 – Tom Brokaw, American journalist and author
- 1945 – Bob Marley, Jamaican singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1981)
- 1946 – Kate McGarrigle, Canadian musician and singer-songwriter (d. 2010)
- 1966 – Rick Astley, English singer-songwriter
Astley’s greatest achievement was this.
Those who began playing the harp on February 6 include:
- 1783 – Capability Brown, English gardener and architect (b. 1716)
- 1804 – Joseph Priestley, English chemist and theologian (b. 1733)
- 1865 – Isabella Beeton, English author of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (b. 1836)
- 1918 – Gustav Klimt, Austrian painter and illustrator (b. 1862)
Here’s Klimt with his kitty:
- 1991 – Salvador Luria, Italian biologist and physician, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1912)
- 1991 – Danny Thomas, American actor, producer, and humanitarian (b. 1914)
- 1993 – Arthur Ashe, American tennis player and sportscaster (b. 1943)
- 2002 – Max Perutz, Austrian-English biologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1914)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili, sick of winter, is doing an experiment.
Ja: Co robisz?
Hili: Sprawdzam czy umiem hibernować.
And here’s a lovely head shot of Szaron by Paulina;
A great meme from Irena:
From reader Pliny the in Between’s Far Corner Cafe:
From Luana: McWhorter vs. Kendi. Kendi’s statement is sufficient for his followers to label him a transphobe, but you can be sure that nobody is going to call him for it. That is known as a double standard.
And yet somehow this will be allowed to pass as okay because he's … well, I'll just leave it there. https://t.co/FaCVN0IPNq
— John McWhorter (@JohnHMcWhorter) February 5, 2021
A relevant tweet from Barry:
— Paul Noth (@PaulNoth) February 1, 2021
From Ken: Trump resigned from the Screen Actors Guild after they scheduled a disciplinary hearing (he had bit parts in some movies), but, in the letter, pretends not to care. Their response to his resignation is great.
Former President Trump has resigned from the Screen Actors Guild after they ordered a disciplinary hearing into his membership following US Capitol attack. (h/t @kristincbrown)
In his resignation letter, he said of the hearing: "Who cares!"
SAG-AFTRA's response: "Thank you." pic.twitter.com/zVnvlJrQW7
— Sara Cook (@saraecook) February 4, 2021
From Merilee: a tweet that encompasses all important memes of the last year (sound up):
This one has everything. pic.twitter.com/hpFRCDtL1k
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) February 4, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. #NotMyCat
Oh to be as content as our neighbours cat after breaking into our house and making itself comfortable on the bed pic.twitter.com/J3N9TeXnNj
— Dr Dani Rabaiotti (@DaniRabaiotti) February 4, 2021
Honey buzzards (Pernis apivorus) aren’t really buzzards but, as you can see, are more closely related to kites. They feed on the larvae and nests of wasps and hornets, and are the only known predator on the Asian Giant Hornet. Wikipedia says this about them:
[The honey buzzard] spends large amounts of time on the forest floor excavating wasp nests. It is equipped with long toes and claws adapted to raking and digging, and scale-like feathering on its head, thought to be a defence against the stings of its victims. Honey buzzards are thought to have a chemical deterrent in their feathers that protects them from wasp attacks.
What an extraordinary photograph! That’s a honey buzzard with a big slab of a wasp nest full of wasp larvae, which make up most of its diet. The grown up wasps ain’t too happy about it…..
— Brick Wahl (@brickwahl1) February 5, 2021
The tweet above seems to have disappeared but I found the photograph on reddit, though without attribution:
Ricky Gervais may be splenetic and dolorous, but he’s a softie when it comes to his cat Pickle:
— The Dodo (@dodo) February 5, 2021
A couple of magnificent animal poos:
What is the most magnificent feces you’ve ever seen in the wild? I’m talking stop-in-your-tracks-to-take-a-picture poo.
For me it was this bedazzled skunk scat full of the shimmering exoskeletons of fiery searcher beetles seen on the U.S-Mex border in AZ. pic.twitter.com/j419WumVUm
— Russ McSpadden (@PeccaryNotPig) February 5, 2021
Bright red manzanita berries in fox scat…pic.twitter.com/mwlFPoWihC
— Russ McSpadden (@PeccaryNotPig) February 5, 2021