It snowed again last night, scotching my plans to go to the grocery store this morning (I am desperately in need of milk, without which I cannot have my wake-up latte. No latte, no website! The temperature in Chicago now is 3° F or -16° C. But I am at work and WHO’S a good boy? Am I as good a boy as Balto (see below)?
But I digress. Welcome to a new week: it’s: Monday, February 15, 2021: National Gumdrop Day, a holiday beloved of kookaburras. It’s a federal holiday today in the U.S., too: President’s Day, also known as Washington’s Birthday. Actually, George Washington was born on February 22 (1732), but the holiday is always celebrated on the third Monday in February to ensure that people get a three-day weekend.
Finally, in Vanatu it’s John Frum Day, celebrating the cargo cult figure. The Frum “cargo cult” has disappeared from most islands, but is still celebrated today on the island of Vanatu. Here are adults and kids marching in honor of the apocryphal Bringer of Cargo:
This cult seems weird, but is no weirder than Christians thinking that Jesus will return shortly to divide the sheep from the goats. The goats will get roasted while the sheep will play harps.
News of the Day:
The BBC reports that there’s now another Ebola outbreak, this time in Guinea. At least three people have died after attending the funeral of a nurse. This is the first death from that virus since 2016. The epidemic between 2013 and 2016 began in Guinea, and killed 11,000. The WHO is flying newly-developed vaccines to the country. (h/t: Gravelinspector)
At the New York Times, Katie Edmonson analyzes what the six GOP Senators who voted to convict Trump had in common:
But the senators were united by a common thread: Each of them, for their own reasons, was unafraid of political retribution from Mr. Trump or his supporters.
“Two are retiring, and three are not up until 2026, and who knows what the world will look like five years from now,” said Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster. “It looked pretty different five years ago than it did today. All seven of them have a measure of independence that those who have to run in 2022 in a closed Republican primary just don’t have.”
The unbearable smugness of Mitch “666” McConnell: After voting to acquit Trump, this Friend of the Devil said this: “Former President Trump’s actions [that] preceded the riot were a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty. . . Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.” But if he was practically and morally responsible for provoking the siege of the Capitol, why did Mitch vote “not guilty.”? You know why: he wants a career in the G.O.P. He had the temerity to add that, as the Washington Post notes, “a criminal prosecution of Trump could be in the cards.”
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 485,154, an increase of only 1,100 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The daily death toll (and hospitalizations) are dropping in America, but we are still likely to exceed half a million deaths within the month. The reported world death toll stands 2,412,587, an increase of about 6,000 deaths over yesterday’s total. The death rate appears to be dropping here, too.
Stuff that happened on February 15 includes:
- 1879 – Women’s rights: US President Rutherford B. Hayes signs a bill allowing female attorneys to argue cases before the Supreme Court of the United States.
- 1923 – Greece becomes the last European country to adopt the Gregorian calendar.
- 1925 – The 1925 serum run to Nome: The second delivery of serum arrives in Nome, Alaska.
This was a 5.5-day dogsled transport of diphtheria serum from Nenanan to Nome, a distance of 674 miles (1,085 km). Without the serum, they estimated the mortality in Nome could have been 100%. Planes couldn’t transport the serum in the frigid weather, so several teams of dog-pulled sleds, driven by “mushers”, did a relay, and saved the town. What heroes—both men and dogs! The lead sled dog in the final leg to Nome was the famous Balto (1919-1933), who was a GOOD BOY. Here’s his photo and a commemorative statue in Central Park.
Balto did the vaudeville circuit after he became famous, and was rescued after being found in bad condition. A Siberian Husky, he was stuffed and mounted after his death; you can see him in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
- 1946 – ENIAC, the first electronic general-purpose computer, is formally dedicated at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Here’s ENIAC. I’m sure a Mac laptop could far exceed what that computer did then:
- 1949 – Gerald Lankester Harding and Roland de Vaux begin excavations at Cave 1 of the Qumran Caves, where they will eventually discover the first seven Dead Sea Scrolls.
Here’s one of the scrolls, the second-oldest known version of the Hebrew Bible. They date between 300 BC and 100 AD:
- 1965 – A new red-and-white maple leaf design is adopted as the flag of Canada, replacing the old Canadian Red Ensign banner.
- 1971 – The decimalisation of British coinage is completed on Decimal Day.
- 1992 – Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer is sentenced in Milwaukee to life in prison.
- 2001 – The first draft of the complete human genome is published in Nature.
Here’s the paper’s first page:
Notables born on this day include:
- 1748 – Jeremy Bentham, English jurist and philosopher (d. 1832)
- 1809 – Cyrus McCormick, American journalist and businessman, co-founded International Harvester (d. 1884)
- 1820 – Susan B. Anthony, American suffragist and activist (d. 1906)
Anthony, who adorns the rare American one-dollar coin, is always depicted as old, but she was young once. Here she is in 1848 at 28:
- 1861 – Alfred North Whitehead, English mathematician and philosopher (d. 1947)
- 1873 – Hans von Euler-Chelpin, German-Swedish biochemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1964
- 1874 – Ernest Shackleton, Anglo-Irish captain and explorer (d. 1922)
- 1948 – Art Spiegelman, Swedish-American cartoonist and critic
Spegelman’s graphic novel, Maus, in which the Jews were mice and the Nazis cats, won the Pulitzer Prize, the only graphic novel to do so. It deserved it:
- 1954 – Matt Groening, American animator, producer, and screenwriter
Those who departed this existence on February 15 include:
- 1965 – Nat King Cole, American singer and pianist (b. 1919)
- 1981 – Mike Bloomfield, American guitarist and songwriter (b. 1943)
- 1988 – Richard Feynman, American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1918)
- 1998 – Martha Gellhorn, American journalist and author (b. 1908)
Gellhorn was a feminist and a famous war correspondent, though today she’s best known as Ernest Hemingway’s third wife. Here are the pair in 1940:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili gets an unexpected treat:
A: Does anybody want a piece of ham?Hili: Yes, yes!
Ja: Czy ktoś chce kawałek szynki?Hili: Tak, tak!
From Stash Krod:
From Jesus of the Day:
A very athletic cat:
"Get a cat", they said… :))
— Stef (@VG_Stef) February 11, 2021
From Simon, who doesn’t care what the physiological relevance is (nor do I).
What’s the physiological relevance? pic.twitter.com/drk7JcmvIz
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) February 14, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. Margaret Atwood identifies as trans-species. Me, too, though I don’t lick my butt:
I on the other hand am a cat. I just can’t get this human filter off.
— Margaret E. Atwood (@MargaretAtwood) February 9, 2021
Some people are enjoying the cold weather in the UK:
— Danny Lawson (@DannyLawPhoto) February 13, 2021
. . . and in Amsterdam, too, where they’ll drink hot cocoa and eat snert (pea soup) after skating:
— Keith Jenkins (@velvetescape) February 13, 2021
An older and sadder picture of skating in Amsterdam:
Anne Frank & friends skate in the Vondelpark during the winter of 1941. A happy moment in her short life. At the moment the waters in and around Amsterdam have frozen over and you can skate again. Amsterdammers will not pass up this unique opportunity!
Color photo: Robbert Esser pic.twitter.com/UYUjFwc84E
— Anne Frank House (@annefrankhouse) February 13, 2021
Le kangorou assaults the photographer:
John Drysdale essayant de photographier un Kangourou, 1967. pic.twitter.com/WQpKb7oc1I
— LES PHOTOS HISTORIQUES (@_PhotoHistoriq) February 13, 2021
This is a sweet story. As the Irish Times reports:
Sam, the fox living on the grounds of Trinity College in Dublin, and who was seen wandering the streets of Dublin during the first lockdown, has found love and is pregnant.
Last year the health of the vixen was of concern as she appeared emaciated. With all restaurants and bars closed and the city centre all but deserted during the first lockdown she was deprived of scraps. She also developed mange on her tail.
In response, staff at Trinity College Dublin left out meat infused with an antibiotic for her and she has not looked back.
The latest development involving Sam the fox happened last month, when she was in heat.
She attracted two suitors, who have been named Prince and Scar by college staff, who fought for her affections.
Sam the Trinity fox finds true love and is expecting cubs https://t.co/jgB2xm7E80
— The Irish Times (@IrishTimes) February 14, 2021
A loving couple of tawny owls (Strix aluco), Bomber and Luna. Sound up:
Look at these two love birds 🥰
Bomber and Luna the resident tawny owls are a faithful pair.
Look at how their relationship has blossomed over the years#ValentinesDay #tawnyowl #valentinesday2021 pic.twitter.com/ySMyqCt54W
— Robert E Fuller (@RobertEFuller) February 14, 2021