Welcome to TGIF Day: Friday, February 12, 2021. It’s cold as hell here (currently 13°F or -11°C), and going to get even colder this weekend: here are the predicted temperatures for next week, both high and low, in Fahrenheit and then in Celsius. Bonus: snow predicted on four of the next seven days!
And here’s a picture by Phoebe Rice, who lives in a flat high above Lake Michigan. Look how far out the lake is frozen: I’ve never seen it like this! The western edge of the lake is right above the tree-lined road (Lake Shore Drive), and the lake extends into the distance, frozen as far as you can see.
As for food, it’s National PB&J Day (Peanut Butter and Jelly). I’ll have two of those sandwiches for lunch. It’s Chinese New Year, beginning the Year of the Ox, as well as NAACP Day, National Lost Penny Day (I have a drawer full of useless pennies), National Freedom to Marry Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, and, most important, International Darwin Day (both Lincoln and Darwin were born on February 12, 1809). The Freedom from Religion Foundation has a life-size latex statue of Darwin in their library, and it’s pretty freaky. Here I am posing with Chuck in March, 2018:
In honor of DarwinDay, but a bit late, Matthew will be speaking this Sunday on flies; here’s the tweet and link:
It's #DarwinDay. A while ago we made a web series called Chaos of Delight, based on Darwin’s phrase where different scientists shared their Chaos of Delight moment with us. Here’s @matthewcobb talking flies (which he'll also be doing live on Sun at 3pm) https://t.co/QPnOGF7LxA pic.twitter.com/Ig3Q7WAyz9
— The Cosmic Shambles Network (@cosmicshambles) February 12, 2021
Today’s Google Doodle celebrates Lunar New Year (which seems to be a sanitized version of Chinese New Year); click on the screenshot: As it’s the Year of the Ox, a handsome ox is in the middle:
News of the Day:
The second and last day of the “prosecution’s” case for Trump impeachment took place today, and again I did not watch, though I did see video summaries. The case against him focused more on his lack of contrition, which I have to say is striking, and gave lots of testimony by people who either say that Trump made them storm the Capitol or certainly wanted them to. They even brought up Charlottesville, where the Orange Man famously said there were good people on both sides, a remark I’ll never forget.
Three NYT op-eds you might want to read: Ezra Klein on “The Senate is making a mockery of itself,” Keith Olbermann on “Is this the end of obsessively hating Trump?” (he looks forward to the criminal trials), and Stacey Abrams and Lauren Groh-Wargo on “How to turn your red state blue.”
The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating article on how hospitals keep their prices secret to rake in the dosh and stifle competition. I’ve bitched about this during the three operations I had in the last decade (two hernia and one sinus), but now there may be some transparency:
“It is shining a light on the insanity of U.S. healthcare pricing,” said Niall Brennan, chief executive of the Health Care Cost Institute, a nonprofit that analyzes medical costs. “It’s at the center of the affordability crisis in American healthcare.”
Under a Trump administration rule that took effect in January, nearly all hospitals must make their prices public, a move the industry sued to block. Courts rejected hospitals’ arguments that their prices should remain under wraps. Healthcare economists say these rates are a major driver of U.S. medical costs, the highest in the world, and they are largely paid by American companies and workers.
Can you believe that hospitals want to keep their prices secret? We shouldn’t accept that, and I guess we don’t have to any longer. Have a look at the article, which reveals huge disparities on what a hospital charges different people for the same operation; it can vary more than tenfold.
Renowned jazz musician Chick Corea died yesterday of a rare form of cancer; he was 79. With 69 Grammy nominations for jazz and 23 wins, he’s the biggest winner of all in that category. Here’s an improvised Corea solo in Vienne, performed in 2012:
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 475,224, an increase of about 3,900 deaths over yesterday’s figure (the rise over the last few days may represent Superbowl party congregating). We will likely exceed half a million deaths within the month. The reported world death toll stands 2,380,451, a big increase of about 13,800 deaths over yesterday’s total, or about 9.6 deaths per minute.
Stuff that happened on February 12 includes:
- 1502 – Isabella I issues an edict outlawing Islam in the Crown of Castile, forcing virtually all her Muslim subjects to convert to Christianity.
- 1832 – Ecuador annexes the Galápagos Islands.
- 1909 – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is founded.
- 1915 – In Washington, D.C., the first stone of the Lincoln Memorial is put into place.
Here’s the cornerstone being laid on February 15. Will we live to see the Memorial torn down because Lincoln was a bad man?
- 1924 – George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue received its premiere in a concert titled “An Experiment in Modern Music”, in Aeolian Hall, New York, by Paul Whiteman and his band, with Gershwin playing the piano.
- 1946 – African American United States Army veteran Isaac Woodard is severely beaten by a South Carolina police officer to the point where he loses his vision in both eyes. The incident later galvanizes the civil rights movement and partially inspires Orson Welles’ film Touch of Evil.
This is a horrific story: Woodard was beaten and blinded by the cops simply because he asked to use the restroom (and a “colored” one) during a rest stop. The cops in the next town burst his eyeballs with their nightsticks. The result:
- 1974 – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970, is exiled from the Soviet Union.
- 1993 – Two-year-old James Bulger is abducted from New Strand Shopping Centre by two ten-year-old boys, who later torture and murder him.
Here’s the famous photo of the abduction (it led to the identification of the suspects), and mug shots of the two murderers—the youngest people ever convicted of murder in the UK. They were paroled in 2001 after detention in a “care centre”. One of them is now back in jail for parole violation and possessing child pornography. It was a horrific crime:
- 1999 – United States President Bill Clinton is acquitted by the United States Senate in his impeachment trial.
- 2002 – The trial of Slobodan Milošević, the former President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, begins at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands. He dies four years later before its conclusion.
- 2004 – The city of San Francisco begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in response to a directive from Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Here’s the first same-sex couple to be legally married in the city: Del Martin (left) and Phyllis Lyon (right); they’re being married at City Hall by the Mayor on June 16, 2008. What a lovely photo!
Notables born on this day include:
- 1606 – John Winthrop the Younger, English-American lawyer and politician, Governor of Connecticut (d. 1676)
- 1663 – Cotton Mather, English-American minister and author (d. 1728)
- 1809 – Charles Darwin, English geologist and theorist (d. 1882)
- 1809 – Abraham Lincoln, American lawyer and politician, 16th President of the United States (d. 1865)
If you forget everything you read on this site, just remember that these two men (who may be canceled in the near future) were born on exactly the same day.
- 1881 – Anna Pavlova, Russian-English ballerina and actress (d. 1931)
The great dancer in 1905, when she was about 24:
- 1884 – Max Beckmann, German painter and sculptor (d. 1950)
Beckmann painted a lot of cats. Here’s “The Old Actress” (1923)
This is the full clip of the Glenn Miller band with Tex Beneke along with one of the greatest dance routines ever in movies by the Nicholas Brothers. From the 1942 movie “Orchestra Wives”. The Nicholas Brothers are far better, of course, but I can’t find “Kalaazoo” by itself. That song exemplifies the cheesy white jazz of the 1940s, but I still like it. Tex could sing (here with the Modernaires, play sax, and whistle real good. His gal is a real pipperoo. Miller conducts and plays the trombone.
- 1918 – Julian Schwinger, American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1994)
- 1980 – Christina Ricci, American actress and producer
Those who came to naught on February 12 include:
- 1804 – Immanuel Kant, German anthropologist, philosopher, and academic (b. 1724)
- 1929 – Lillie Langtry, English singer and actress (b. 1853)
- 1942 – Grant Wood, American painter and academic (b. 1891)
Everybody knows Grant Wood’s “America Gothic,” one of the most famous American paintings—if not the most famous—but here’s another: “January” (1940-1941):
- 1976 – Sal Mineo, American actor (b. 1939)
- 1979 – Jean Renoir, French actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1894)
- 2000 – Charles M. Schulz, American cartoonist, created Peanuts (b. 1922)
- 2014 – Sid Caesar, American actor and comedian (b. 1922)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili scoffs at Andrzej’s optimism. Look at her expression! (I just made her face in this photo my Twitter profile picture.)
A: There is a lot of good news in the world.Hili: I can just see it.
Ja: Jest dużo dobrych wiadomości ze świata.Hili: Właśnie widzę.
And we have Paulina and her beloved Szaron. She is asking him what he’d like at the grocery store.
Caption: Paulina is going shopping.
Good advice from Stash Krod:
A cartoon from Jean showing how mean dogs are:
Reader David sent a bunch of “old people” jokes. Here’s one:
From reader Barry. Sound up to reduce stress!
Studies show that watching a beaver eat cabbage lowers stress by 17% pic.twitter.com/Ok7V27g70w
— The Feel Good Page ❤️ (@akkitwts) February 10, 2021
From Ginger K. As I said yesterday, expect a bunch of cat/lawyer cartoons:
The Earl of Southampton, painted in 1603, with his lawyer. pic.twitter.com/18pZMP8G6o
— Jonathan Healey (@SocialHistoryOx) February 9, 2021
From Simon. Another cartoon showing that religion poisons everything. Simon’s caption, “Oy!, as you might say.”
Lockdown. Kids are at home. The airport is closed. 1 out of 100 Orthodox Jews over 60 is dead from COVID-19, yet this still goes on. If you thought that Israel is a rational place (“start up nation”) think again. pic.twitter.com/AxuUizxXmR
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) February 8, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. First, a lovely murmuration, and right over the water:
Murmurations tonight. Breathtaking. pic.twitter.com/kpMRGhQSvu
— Maud (@Blahranger) February 10, 2021
Successful cat herding! Yay!
This guy is trying to round up five tiny kittens who were just abandoned 🙏 pic.twitter.com/9txogx0WcV
— The Dodo (@dodo) February 11, 2021
An especially peripatetic white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla). I’ve put a photo of one below. Why is this of interest? Because the species was driven to extinction in the UK by the early 1900s, and reintroduced to Scotland in the 1970s and to England only in 2019. This is the UK’s largest bird of prey. UKers—have you seen one?
An exciting update from the @RoyDennisWF!🦅
White-tailed Eagle G393 returned home to the #IsleofWight this week after 17 months away. Below you can see a map of his travels, during which the satellite tag has logged 71,036 GPS points and shows he's flown a total of 4904 km! pic.twitter.com/yrgQBaYYkm
— Isle Of Wight (@VisitIOW) February 11, 2021
White tailed eagle (photo from the BBC):
Matthew says, “This was from last summer, but is still balm for the soul.” I wonder why all those sunfish congregated.
HOLY GUACAMOLA: A large school of sunfish (Mola Mola) was seen on a field trip at Breakwater Cove in Monterey over the weekend. #monterey #montereybay @MontereyAq @HopkinsMarine pic.twitter.com/RrBVowETLD
— KSBW Action News 8 (@ksbw) June 15, 2020