It’s the cruelest day of the week: Tuesday, and February 9, 2021, also known as National Pizza Day. It’s also Chocolate Day, Extraterrestrial Culture Day, and Read in the Bathtub Day (I much prefer showers and can’t remember the last time I took a bath, which I do only when injured and need to soak. I was permanently traumatized as a child when my dad, who abjured baths, told me, “Why would anybody want to sit in their own schmutz?”)
It’s also cold—probably the coldest week of the year. And there will be no letup. It snowed yesterday and it’s currently 6°F (-14°C). Here are the predicted high and low temperatures for this week in Chicago, first Fahrenheit and then Celsius:
In this dire weather, I’m constantly fretting about where my ducks are, and whether they are cold and/or starving.
Here’s Professor Ceiling Cat on his walk to work this morning. (Note Wright’s Robie House in the background.) WHO’S a good boy?
News of the Day:
It’s Impeachment Day! Mitch “666” McConnell and Chuck Schumer have agreed on the timing and protocols in the trial, expected to start today and last 1-2 weeks. You can read the formal rules here; each side has 16 hours to present its case, and there may be a debate and a vote on whether to call witnesses. Today there are some preliminaries, and then the House presents its case on Wednesday, with Trump’s lawyers then given two days to exculpate the Guilty. They’ve already submitted a brief to dismiss the case because, they argue, impeachment is “unconstitutional” for an ex-President. The House “impeachment managers,” aka The Prosecution, rejected the brief.
Here’s a relevant cartoon from reader Pliny the In Between’s Far Corner Cafe:
A report at NPR suggests that the new “spreader” strains occurring in the coronavirus may have formed in patients who were persistently infected because of immune-system defects. That would allow the virus to build up and exchange mutations to arrive at a strain highly resistant to our immune system. While South Africa has suspended the rollout of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine on the grounds that it doesn’t work well against the “South African” variant of the virus. Various studies are confusing. What is sad is that this was the vaccine that was going to halt the pandemic in South Africa. The mRNA vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna, at least so far, appear effective against the new variant strains.
According to the New York Times, the U.S. is weighing requiring a negative coronavirus test before any air travel within the U.S. Mayor Pete, now Secretary of Transportation, is in charge of that, and I have doubts about that decision. For one thing, it would destroy the airline industry. A mask mandate on planes seems sufficient to me. And if you fly, you should wear a cloth mask over a surgical one.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 464,921, an increase of about 1,600 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The number of new cases is now falling, but we still may exceed half a million deaths within the month. The reported world death toll stands 2,337,977, an increase of about 9,000 deaths over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on February 9 includes:
“All in favor of Allesandro, say ay!” (That was his “secular” name.) Gregory ruled only a year and a half.
- 1825 – After no candidate receives a majority of electoral votes in the US presidential election of 1824, the United States House of Representatives elects John Quincy Adams as President of the United States.
- 1861 – American Civil War: Jefferson Davis is elected the Provisional President of the Confederate States of America by the Confederate convention at Montgomery, Alabama.
Davis was imprisoned for two years for treason after the war, and then pardoned by Andrew Johnson. He was going to be tried by a jury of 24, shown in the photo below, which included 12 blacks and 12 whites. (That trial never took place.) Davis made many trips in England hoping for a job, didn’t get one, wrote his memoirs, and died in 1885.
- 1895 – William G. Morgan creates a game called Mintonette, which soon comes to be referred to as volleyball.
The first game was played on July 7, 1896, at Springfield College.
- 1907 – The Mud March is the first large procession organised by the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS).
It was called “The Mud March” because it was raining and conditions were atrocious. Nevertheless, they persisted. Here’s the Daily Mirror’s headline two days after the march:
- 1942 – Year-round Daylight saving time (aka War Time) is re-instated in the United States as a wartime measure to help conserve energy resources.
- 1950 – Second Red Scare: US Senator Joseph McCarthy accuses the United States Department of State of being filled with Communists.
- 1959 – The R-7 Semyorka, the first intercontinental ballistic missile, becomes operational at Plesetsk, USSR.
- 1964 – The Beatles make their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, performing before a “record-busting” audience of 73 million viewers across the USA.
The video of this appearance isn’t on YouTube or Vimeo, so I can’t embed it. But if you click on the screenshot below, you can see this performance on a Facebook video:
- 1971 – Satchel Paige becomes the first Negro league player to be voted into the USA’s Baseball Hall of Fame.
It is a great shame that Satchel Paige didn’t get to play in the major league (it was segregated) until he was over 40. His won/loss record in the Negro League was 146-64. As Wikipedia notes, “On town tours across the United States, Paige would sometimes have his infielders sit down behind him and then routinely strike out the side.” Here’s a short documentary:
- 1996 – Copernicium is discovered, by Sigurd Hofmann, Victor Ninov et al.
This element was created in the lab and its most stable isotope has a half-life of only 28 seconds.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1737 – Thomas Paine, English-American philosopher, author, and activist (d. 1809)
- 1874 – Amy Lowell, American poet, critic, and educator (d. 1925)
- 1896 – Alberto Vargas, Peruvian-American painter and illustrator (d. 1982)
- 1909 – Carmen Miranda, Portuguese-Brazilian actress, singer, and dancer (d. 1955)
Miranda was of course known for her “fruit hats”. Here she performs “Chica Chica Boom Chic” for the 1941 film “That Night in Rio“. A heavy smoker, she died at 45 of a heart attack. Did you know that she had an affair with John Wayne?
- 1910 – Jacques Monod, French biochemist and geneticist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1976)
- 1928 – Roger Mudd, American journalist
- 1930 – Garner Ted Armstrong, American evangelist and author (d. 2003)
- 1940 – J. M. Coetzee, South African-Australian novelist, essayist, and linguist, Nobel Prize laureate
- 1943 – Joe Pesci, American actor
Remember this scene from Goodfellas?
- 1944 – Alice Walker, American novelist, short story writer, and poet
- 1945 – Mia Farrow, American actress, activist, and former fashion model
Those who dropped dead on February 9 were few, and include:
- 1881 – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, and philosopher (b. 1821)
Here’s Dostoyevsky’s death mask that I photographed in his apartment (now a museum) in July, 2011. If you’re ever in St. Petersburg, you must go to his flat, which is as he left it when he died. Go have a look at my post about visiting the place, written shortly after I returned from a meeting in Russia.
- 1981 – Bill Haley, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1925)
- 1995 – J. William Fulbright, American lawyer and politician (b. 1905)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s appropriated Andrzej’s coat as a blanket:
Hili: This coat has to stay here.A: Why?Hili: I’ve put my paw on it.
Hili: Ten płaszcz ma tu zostać.Ja: Dlaczego?Hili: Położyłam na nim łapę.
From Facebook. Recognize the sculptor?
From Stash Krod:
From Stephen, clearly a response to Marjorie Taylor Greene’s insane claim that California wildfires were set by Jewish-controlled space lasers designed to clear land for a high-speed rail system:
From Titania. I don’t know who this guy umairh is, but but his Twitter feed shows that he’s a). woke, b). obsessed with d*gs, and c). tweets a gazillion times a day. Combined with that tweet, it doesn’t paint a pretty picture. Coyne’s Fourth Law: anybody who tweets more than 15 times a day should not be taken seriously.
We will only achieve tolerance and unity once white people accept that they are evil, repugnant, worthless trash whose very existence is a vomit stain on the fabric of society. pic.twitter.com/l3U54SWYk5
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) February 4, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. This is almost certainly a mimic of a salticid (jumping spider); I’ve put a picture of a real salticid below it. Barklice are in their own order, and are scavengers.
When observing these barklice with the naked eye, they do look quite a bit like salticids. But up close, they just look like misaligned eyes. 😅 pic.twitter.com/6221gprcGd
— Nicky Bay (@singaporemacro) February 8, 2021
Here’s a salticid from Github:
And another spider from the great arthropod photographer Nicky Bay:
Not a rare spider, but always a joy to find in the wild.
Heteropoda boiei ♂ pic.twitter.com/0ZfrDGuxk8
— Nicky Bay (@singaporemacro) February 8, 2021
The answer to the question below is in the thread:
Pub quiz question
What ailment kills the most fruit flies?
— Dr Erica McAlister (@flygirlNHM) February 6, 2021
This woman has the world’s best job. Sound up!
Never get bored of penguins getting weighed 🐧
🎥 St Louis Zoo pic.twitter.com/qwNkWCXvLu
— Alan McGinlay (@AlanMcGinlay) February 5, 2021
This is a few days back, but it looks scary driving a train in a white-out. I guess you have to trust the tracks.
👷♂️👷♀️ Here's footage from the locomotive we used to plough from Dalwhinnie to Blair Atholl yesterday, to give you an idea of the conditions on the Highland Mainline. @ScotRail @LNER @ColasRailUK @DRSgovuk @transcotland @networkrail pic.twitter.com/zlfmqZAZvP
— Network Rail Scotland (@NetworkRailSCOT) February 5, 2021
This bird appears to be a carunculated caracara, (Phalcoboenus carunculatus):
After hanging our for a while and contemplating the city it flew away. pic.twitter.com/GP9pK7NUqM
— 🐞 Nancy Miorelli 🐞 (@SciBugs) February 4, 2021