Welcome to Hump Day: Wednesday, February 10, 2021, and it’s National “Have a Brownie” Day, with the scare quotes implying that you won’t be having a brownie at all. It’s also National Cream Cheese Brownie Day, National Flannel Day (for the hipsters), and Teddy Day. For the latter, I’ll show my beloved teddy bear, Toasty, whom I got the day I was born. He’s as old as I am, then, and of course we’re both showing signs of wear. At least I still have most of my hair!
Wine of the Day: As I write this on Tuesday evening, my palate is still stimulated by the deliciousness of this wine, consumed with a dinner of chicken breast, rice (mixed with a little hoisin sauce), and fresh heirloom tomatoes.
I have kept this wine in storage for over five years, and can’t remember what it cost, but it would probably run $40/bottle or so these days. I probably paid less than half that, and for what I got it’s even worth the present price. Its aroma, which leapt from the glass, was redolent of blackcurrants and most strikingly the “black olive” scent I associate with a good Rhone. It was gutsy, ripe, and wonderful.
This Côtes du Roussillon Villages in fact tastes like a good Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but at a substantially lower price. And at 11 years old, it is still young. Made by M. Chapoutier, one of the great names of the Rhone, this is an excellent value in younger vintages. Pick up any vintage you can find (only younger ones are available; all are going to be good, and the 2015 gets high marks), and pair it with something that complements a substantial red. Snap it up if you find it around $20. If you have patience, age it for a few years. And then decant it.
News of the Day:
From the Guardian: Ornithologists uncover election hoax in Ecuador: A video supposedly filmed in Colombia, with leftist “Colombian” guerrillas endorsing a left-wing Ecuadorian candidate in today’s Presidential election, has been outed by an ornithologist. The ornithologist and bird guide, Manuel Sanchez, noted that a bird heard calling in the video’s background was a pale-browed tinamou, found not in Colombia but only in a small region of Ecuador. In other words, it was a fake video. It’s not clear if the video was supposed to sway voters towards or away from the left-wing Andrés Arauz, but it was a bogus attempt for sure. There’s now a new category of jobs: Forensic Ornithologist! (h/t Jez)
I’m not sure how much of Trump’s second impeachment trial, if any, I’ll watch, for I can watch highlights in the evening news and the arguments alone will occupy 32 hours. Tonight’s news (and the NYT) report that the Senate vote to proceed with the impeachment was 56-44, meaning six Republican Senators voted with the Democrats. One hard-to-rebut Democratic argument is this: if you can’t try a President after he leaves office, there’s an impetus to commit “high crimes and misdemeanors” right before you’re out of the Oval Office.
More good news in parlous times: Massachusetts just voted to name a “state dinosaur” after residents voted for it in a contest. The lucky (though extinct) creature was a gracile species, Podokesaurus holyokensis (h/t: Ginger K.) Here’s a reconstruction, and there’s a long Wikipedia entry on P. holyokensis.
More news: a man lost his wallet in Antarctica while he was stationed there as a meteorologist in 1968, and it was just returned to him—after 53 years! It was found behind a locker during demolition at the McMurdo Station, and, after some dilly-dallying and searching, the owner was located, still alive at 91. Paul Grisham was stunned to get it back. The contents:
Grisham’s driver’s license and Navy ID card; a beer ration punch card with four holes punched (“I was pretty much a martini guy,” said Grisham); a tax statement; an instruction card with steps to take in case of an atomic attack; a recipe for homemade Kahlua; and two money order receipts for the poker winnings Grisham had mailed to his wife after cleaning up in card games at the base.
There was no word whether the wallet contained cash.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 468,088, an increase of about 3,200 deaths over yesterday’s figure (the rise over the last two days may be the results of congregating at home during the Superbowl). 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 2,352,871, a big increase of about 14,800 deaths over yesterday’s total, or about 10.2 deaths per minute.
Stuff that happened on February 10 includes:
- 1306 – In front of the high altar of Greyfriars Church in Dumfries, Robert the Bruce murders John Comyn sparking the revolution in the Wars of Scottish Independence.
Here’s Robert the Bruce (also an appropriate name for an Aussie) doing the deed:
- 1567 – Lord Darnley, second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, is found strangled following an explosion at the Kirk o’ Field house in Edinburgh, Scotland, a suspected assassination.
- 1840 – Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom marries Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
Here’s Victoria and her beloved Albert, who died at only 42 of a stomach ailment, leaving Victoria disconsolate.
- 1933 – In round 13 of a boxing match at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, Primo Carnera knocks out Ernie Schaaf. Schaaf dies four days later.
I won’t put up the video, but if you want to see the fatal boxing match, there’s a YouTube video.
- 1940 – The Soviet Union begins mass deportations of Polish citizens from occupied eastern Poland to Siberia.
- 1962 – Cold War: Captured American U2 spy-plane pilot Gary Powers is exchanged for captured Soviet spy Rudolf Abel.
The exchange took place over the Glienicke Bridge between East and West Berlin, sometimes used for spy swaps between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. Here it is; it’s still standing.
- 1967 – The 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified.
This is the amendment that stipulates what happens if the President dies or leaves office.
Here’s Kasparov defending his loss, though I have no idea what he’s talking about:
Notables born on this day include:
- 1766 – Benjamin Smith Barton, American botanist and physician (d. 1815)
- 1890 – Boris Pasternak, Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1960)
- 1920 – Alex Comfort, English physician and author (d. 2000)
- 1929 – Jim Whittaker, American mountaineer
- 1929 – Lou Whittaker, American mountaineer
The Whittakers are identical twins, both well known climbers. Jim summited Everest with Sherpa Nawang Gombu on May 1, 1963, becoming the first American to reach the top of the mountain. Four other American climbers also made it to the top on that expedition (one died in an avalanche). Here’s Jim on the summit and, in the second photo, with his brother (they’re 92 today):
- 1950 – Mark Spitz, American swimmer
Those who went the way of the dinosaurs on February 10 include:
- 1755 – Montesquieu, French lawyer and philosopher (b. 1689)
- 1879 – Honoré Daumier, French illustrator and painter (b. 1808)
- 1912 – Joseph Lister, 1st Baron Lister, English surgeon and academic (b. 1827)
- 1923 – Wilhelm Röntgen, German physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1845)
Here’s Röntgen, who won the very first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901 for the discovery of X-rays and their use:
- 1957 – Laura Ingalls Wilder, American author (b. 1867)
- 1992 – Alex Haley, American soldier, journalist, and author (b. 1921)
- 2014 – Shirley Temple, American actress and diplomat (b. 1928)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has found a place to rest where they normally keep wood for the fireplace:
Andrzej: I’m going to fetch wood for the fireplace.Hili: Leave it in the basket.
Ja: Idę po drewno do kominka.Hili: Zostaw je potem w koszu.
And here’s a picture by Paulina of little Kulka stalking through the snow:
From Stash Krod:
Tweets from Matthew. An empirical search by cosmonauts apparently failed to turn up evidence for a divinity.
— Soviet Visuals (@sovietvisuals) February 9, 2021
My baby skunk acted the same way! I had my Pinkus for about six years, and he was descented. The little fellow below is a rescue skunk and will be released into nature. That means that he was not descended and there was always the danger of him spraying in the house. But he didn’t.
Baby skunk learns to stomp his hands — then he does handstands and stomps his back feet! 😍 pic.twitter.com/xuYZXJDe3Y
— The Dodo (@dodo) February 9, 2021
About this one Matthew says, “I’d get off the ice pdq!” Sound up; it’s amazing.
Alien-like chatter of the world’s deepest lake as photographer shares eerie sounds of newly-formed ice. Alexey Kolganov films himself skating on transparent ice of lake Baikal, as new cracks form under his skates https://t.co/v5IeOGHlrZ pic.twitter.com/DKhx9VOWyg
— The Siberian Times (@siberian_times) February 8, 2021
Oy, was there a lot of recent snow in Scotland!
— Perth & Kinross Council (@PerthandKinross) February 9, 2021
A whale mom and baby. So adorable! One of the commenters, though, says that the sounds are fake. I’m not so sure (they could have been real and added), but turn the sound up:
Simply amazing! 🙂
(Sound 🔊) pic.twitter.com/1xQMaxKJ0v
— Holy Cow! (@HolyCow_Inc) February 9, 2021
This makes me really hungry! I particularly like the Indian kulfi at 12 seconds in. Pista kulfi with falooda (sweet noodles) is the best, and this even has rosewater syrup on it! But everything looks fantastic—except for the ice cream in bread. Ugh!
$1 Ice Cream Around The World🍦 pic.twitter.com/f36UsutwwH
— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) February 9, 2021
A lovely reptile from central America (Basiliscus plumifrons). They’re also called “Jesus Christ lizards” because they can run for short distance on top of water. Don’t believe me? See the video below the tweet.
A superb reptile from Central America, a plumed basilisk. I photographed this one in Nicaragua. pic.twitter.com/SIEnBBYDn1
— Nigel Marven (@Nigelmarven) February 8, 2021
See? I’ve actually seen them do this (in Costa Rica):