We had a godawful snowfall last night (another 3 to 5 inches to come today!), and I slogged to work through snow that was sometimes up to my thighs. WHO’S a good boy? Photos to come. It’s so bad that the University even closed live classes today. IN CHICAGO! Everything will be shut down today.
Here’s a quick picture of me slogging to work in the snow. I sent it to Matthew, who said: “WELL DONE, YOU ARE AWARDED THE ORDER OF HERO OF EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY”
So welcome to the Cruelest Day: it’s Tuesday, February 16, 2021: National Almond Day. More excitingly, it’s International Pancake Day and Pączki Day, celebrating the exquisite filled Polish donuts that one can buy in Chicago. Here are some:
It’s also Mardi Gras, which will be quiet this year, with no parades or floats, and Tim Tam Day, celebrating the Aussie chocolate-covered bikkie that can be used as a straw to suck up hot beverages. In North Korea it’s the Day of the Shining Star, otherwise known as Kim Jong-il’s Birthday, and in Alaska it’s Elizabeth Peratrovich Day. celebrating the woman who, as a member of the Tlingit nation of Native Americans, fought for the Alaska Equal Rights Law of 1945 (see below).
News of the Day:
Bill Gates has a new book out: How to Avoid a Climate Disaster:The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need. A review in the New York Times finds the book “disappointing” on two grounds: Gates gets some of his figures wrong, and misunderstands the politics behind the issue. A quote re the latter:
So why aren’t we moving much faster than we are? That’s because of politics, and this is where Gates really wears blinders. “I think more like an engineer than a political scientist,” he says proudly — but that means he can write an entire book about the “climate disaster” without discussing the role that the fossil fuel industry played, and continues to play, in preventing action.
Well, at least the man means well. (h/t Dom)
According to the New York Times (and other sources), Hasan Gokal, a doctor in Houston is the victim of legal stupidity. With one vial of Covid vaccine due to expire within six hours, he desperately tried to vaccinate as many of his patients as possible (it must have been the Moderna vaccine, as his vial held 10 doses). He used it all, and, with 15 minutes to spare gave the last dose to his wife, who has a serious pulmonary condition. For his efforts, he was charged with misdemeanor theft of the vaccine (worth $135). When the judge dismissed the charges, the local DA vowed to bring the case before a grand jury. Gokal was also fired from his job at the local health departent. The whole case stinks:
The officials maintained that he had violated protocol and should have returned the remaining doses to the office or thrown them away, the doctor recalled. He also said that one of the officials startled him by questioning the lack of “equity” among those he had vaccinated.
“Are you suggesting that there were too many Indian names in that group?” Dr. Gokal said he asked.
Exactly, he said he was told.
So he’s prosecuted and fired for not throwing away a lifesaving vaccine? Oy!
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 486,148, an increase of only 1,000 deaths over yesterday’s figure We are still liable to exceed half a million deaths within the month. The reported world death toll stands 2,420,338, an increase of about 7,800 deaths over yesterday’s total. The death rate appears to be dropping worldwide, too.
Stuff that happened on February 16 includes:
Here’s a tweet of the tomb, sealed 3,246 years before! (h/t Matthew). Note the good condition of the rope and the seal.
16 February 1923. English archaeologist Howard Carter unsealed the burial chamber of the ancient Egyptian ruler Pharaoh Tutenkhamun. His coffin, made of solid gold, contained his mummified body. It had been sealed in 1323 BC. pic.twitter.com/kWeknQ4tbL
— Prof. Frank McDonough (@FXMC1957) February 16, 2021
- 1937 – Wallace H. Carothers receives a United States patent for nylon.
- 1945 – The Alaska Equal Rights Act of 1945, the first anti-discrimination law in the United States, was signed into law.
Here’s Elizabeth Peratrovich (see above; it’s her day in Alaska), instrumental in passing the law. She died of breast cancer at only 47:
- 1959 – Fidel Castro becomes Premier of Cuba after dictator Fulgencio Batista was overthrown on January 1.
Castro and Che Guevara:
- 1968 – In Haleyville, Alabama, the first 9-1-1 emergency telephone system goes into service.
- 1978 – The first computer bulletin board system is created (CBBS in Chicago).
- 2005 – The Kyoto Protocol comes into force, following its ratification by Russia.
- 2005 – The National Hockey League cancels the entire 2004–05 regular season and playoffs.
- 2006 – The last Mobile army surgical hospital (MASH) is decommissioned by the United States Army.
Notables born on this day include:
Galton has now been officially erased, for he advocated eugenics. But here’s his photo from about 1850:
- 1838 – Henry Adams, American journalist, historian, and author (d. 1918)
- 1848 – Hugo de Vries, Dutch botanist, geneticist, and academic (d. 1935)
de Vries (below) was the first to suggest that the units of inheritances were particles, which he called “pangenes”:
She was, of course, the sister of Anne Frank. Both of them died in Bergen-Belsen of typhus, within a few days of each other. Margot was 18 or 19. Here’s Margot; she is reported to have kept a diary, but it’s never been found.
- 1935 – Sonny Bono, American actor, singer, and politician (d. 1998)
- 1958 – Natalie Angier, American author
- 1989 – Elizabeth Olsen, American actress
Those who became quiescent on February 16 are but two, and not all that notable:
- 1996 – Brownie McGhee, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1915)
Here’s Brownie in 1966 singing “Born and livin’ with the blues”:
- 2015 – Lesley Gore, American singer-songwriter (b. 1946)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, I learned something from this dialogue and from Malgorzata. When Paulina, the upstairs lodger, was just a 15-year-old schoolgirl nine years ago, she and her older sister Aneta were the ones who brought baby Hili (3 months old) to Andrzej and Malgorzata. They thought that they needed a cat after their previous cat, Pia, died, and the neighbor’s cat had just produced a litter of kittens. Hili was one of them.
Paulina reminds Hili of this (Malgorzata told me that she gave me this information years ago, but I didn’t remember!):
Hili: I have the feeling that I’ve always known you.Paulina: When you were little I brought you to this house.Hili: You did the right thing.
Hili: Mam wrażenie, że cię zawsze znałam.Paulina: Jak byłaś mała to ja przyniosłam cię do tego domu.Hili: Słusznie zrobiłaś.
Here’s baby Hili shortly after Paulina brought her to Andrzej and Malgorzata:
From Divy. The “Bernie Mittens” meme is being replaced by the “Cat Lawyer” meme:
Another cat meme from Nicole:
A tweet from Dom showing an lovely and unusual bird’s nest fungus:
Found a FAB piece of decaying wood today – covered in Bird's nest fungus!!! 😍🥚 pic.twitter.com/AMNIEUZovd
— Charlotte Rankin (@bumble_being) January 16, 2021
From Luana: inequity in the Biden administration, an op-ed from Newsweek.
“The U.S. currently has seven federal offices of women's health, and none on men's health” 👇
— Christina Sommers (@CHSommers) February 16, 2021
From Ginger K. Give that mutt a steak!
When your vegetarian friends invite you for dinner pic.twitter.com/wZfWggqzcV
— The Feel Good Page ❤️ (@akkitwts) February 13, 2021
This, sent by Barry, is a nice thread, but you must read through it to see the best bits about plants. As Barry wrote, “I don’t see many long science-related threads on Twitter—simple, straight-ahead questions & answers, yes—but this one is pretty good. Thermogenic plants? Well, I just learned something new.”
Botanists of twitter, I would like to request your help. I am currently teaching an intro bio course and we are in the plant module. Many students find plants to be boring and this makes me very sad. So if you are willing would you share an interesting plant fact or /1
— Dr. Kaitlin Gallagher (@kait_a_gallaghr) February 11, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. This helicopter rescue is simply amazing; that pilot is so skillful! (This is from 2019).
RT @Britanniacomms A French police helicopter traveled 7,000 feet up a windy mountainside, getting to inches from the snowy slope, in an effort to rescue an injured skier. #Unbelievable #flying and skill by the pilot #travel via CoastguardJM pic.twitter.com/ozz2MCSNtk
— TravelTriangle (@traveltriangle) January 13, 2019
The cat approves of this post:
— John Kraljevich (@JohnSpiroSpero) February 14, 2021
A wary and energetic stoat with its expired prey. I think it’s a bunny 🙁
Amazed to see this today near Arncliffe, an ermine stoat and their quarry. pic.twitter.com/8kNqt6lS2Z
— Hill Top Farm (@hilltopfarmgirl) February 14, 2021