Welcome to Thursday, February 18, 2021: National “Drink Wine” Day. And I will—I promise. But why the scare quotes? Are we only supposed to pretend we’ll drink wine? It’s also Crab-Stuffed Flounder Day, Pluto Day, and Thumb Appreciation Day, for which I’ll show this most excellent video:
Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot), celebrates the life of Audre Lorde (born 1934, died on this day in 1992), a poet described by Wikipedia as ” a self-described ‘Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,’ who dedicated both her life and her creative talent to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, capitalism, heterosexism, and homophobia.” The Doodle gives eight successive quotes from her, emphasizing intersectionality and the essential unity of all struggles.
The new sweet treat was designed to look like the red planet. The donut is filled with Chocolate Kreme, dipped in caramel icing with a red planet swirl, and topped with chocolate cookie crumbs. Chocolate and caramel? You can’t possibly go wrong.
It may be dire (I don’t much like Krispy Kremes), but you have to admit that it’s a cute donut:
Other important news: C|Net gives you a guide on how to acquire and use the famous “cat filter”, which is especially useful for lawyers. Apparently it’s not so easy to use it without instructions (h/t GInger K.)
Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh died yesterday at 70; we’d known for a while, since he announced it in February, that he had terminal lung cancer. The day after this news, Trump gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In France, one house of the legislature has passed an anti-radicalism law that has Muslims in a rage because it appears to single out Islamic radicalism. The bill, called “Supporting respect for the principles of the Republic,” has these provisions (h/t Hos):
A section that makes it a crime to knowingly endanger the life of a person by providing details of their private life and location is known as the ’’Paty law.” It was named for Samuel Paty, the teacher who was killed outside his school after information about where he taught was posted online in a video.
The bill bolsters other French efforts to fight extremism, mainly security-based.
And although the AP adds this:
. . . The bill mentions neither Muslims nor Islam by name. Supporters say it is aimed at snuffing out what the government describes as an encroaching fundamentalism that is subverting French values, notably the nation’s foundational value of secularism and gender equality.
They also say this:
Lawmakers in the French parliament’s lower house on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would strengthen oversight of mosques, schools and sports clubs to safeguard France from radical Islamists and to promote respect for French values – one of President Emmanuel Macron’s landmark projects.
And France24 says this:
The government insists the bill doesn’t target Muslims. It seeks to halt the issuing of virginity certificates, the practice of polygamy and forced marriage. It would crack down on fundamentalist teaching by requiring all children three and over to be in school, and tighten rules on the funding and functioning of mosques and religious associations.
Doesn’t singling out mosques, and the provisions right above, constitute effectively indicting Islam? I haven’t read the bill, but the claim the bill isn’t aimed at radical Islam seems contradictory. The bill is expected to pass the other legislative body, which is conservative, without a problem.
Surprise! HuffPost reports that a poll it took in collaboration with YouGov shows that “only half of Americans have heard of ‘Cancel Culture’.” (It’s actually 52%.) The reason they’re so happy about this is because they see Cancel Culture as a whipping boy of Republicans, and the fewer Americans that know about it, the better HuffPost like it (they, of course, don’t believe in Cancel Culture). But HuffPost don’t realize that hearing the term and seeing people deplatformed or viciously attacked are two different things. And “Cancel Culture” surely played a role in the absence of the predicted “blue wave” in last November’s elections. Further, the survey shows that “among those who are familiar with the term, 67% say it is a ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ serious problem”. I’d fall over if HuffPost ever published a political article that didn’t demonize the Right in some way, for they’re unable to even pretend to be objective (h/t Ken)
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 490,326, an increase of about 2,500 deaths over yesterday’s figure We are likely to exceed half a million deaths within a week. The reported world death toll stands 2,442,727, an increase of about 11,300 deaths over yesterday’s total. The death rate appears to be dropping worldwide as well as in the U.S.
Stuff that happened on February 18 includes:
- 1861 – In Montgomery, Alabama, Jefferson Davis is inaugurated as the provisional President of the Confederate States of America.
- 1861 – With Italian unification almost complete, Victor Emmanuel II of Piedmont, Savoy and Sardinia assumes the title of King of Italy.
- 1885 – Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is published in the United States.
A first edition and first printing of this puppy, in good condition, will cost you about $20,000, and I’m surprised it’s that low:
The book was illustrated; here’s one sort of sad picture:
- 1911 – The first official flight with airmail takes place from Allahabad, United Provinces, British India (now India), when Henri Pequet, a 23-year-old pilot, delivers 6,500 letters to Naini, about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) away.
Not very far! Here’s a postmarked letter from that flight:
Here’s the movement of the tiny dot that was Pluto, a PLANET:
- 1943 – World War II: The Nazis arrest the members of the White Rose movement.
Christof Probst and Hans and Sophie Scholl, two of the perpetrators of the anti-Nazi movement, were tried four days later and guillotined the same day. Here is a memorial, with white roses, that stands in room 253 of the Munich Court of Justice, where the three were tried and instantly convicted by Roland Freisler, the Nazi’s odious “hanging judge”.
On the same day that Probst and the Scholls were arrested, and with the war all but lost, the nefarious Goebbels called for “total war” (“totaler Krieg”); see video below. Note that he slips and starts calling for the extermination of the Jews, correcting himself to say, “exclusion of the Jews”
- 1954 – The first Church of Scientology is established in Los Angeles.
- 1970 – The Chicago Seven are found not guilty of conspiring to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
Here are the Seven at a news conference on February 28. How many can you name?
- 1972 – The California Supreme Court in the case of People v. Anderson, (6 Cal.3d 628) invalidates the state’s death penalty and commutes the sentences of all death row inmates to life imprisonment.
- 2001 – FBI agent Robert Hanssen is arrested for spying for the Soviet Union. He is ultimately convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Hanssen is living out his days at the Federal Penitentiary “ADX Florence”, the toughest prison in the U.S.
- 2010 – WikiLeaks publishes the first of hundreds of thousands of classified documents disclosed by the soldier now known as Chelsea Manning.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1745 – Alessandro Volta, Italian physicist, invented the battery (d. 1827)
- 1838 – Ernst Mach, Austrian physicist and philosopher (d. 1916)
- 1906 – Hans Asperger, Austrian pediatrician and academic (d. 1980)
What is now known as “Asperger’s Syndrome” was called by him “autistic psychopathy”. Here he is with a young patient in Vienna around 1940:
- 1931 – Toni Morrison, American novelist and editor, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2019).
- 1933 – Yoko Ono, Japanese-American multimedia artist and musician
- 1950 – Cybill Shepherd, American actress and singer
Here’s Shepherd starring as Jacy Farrow, the man-killer in my favorite American movie, The Last Picture Show. It was her first film, and she was 21. Jeff Bridges, below, is grinning because they just had sex in a motel. It’s a hilarious scene, because all of Jacy’s friends are lined up in cars parked outside the room, seeing if it really happened.
- 1954 – John Travolta, American actor, singer and producer
- 1957 – Vanna White, American model and game show host
- 1968 – Molly Ringwald, American actress
Those who expired on February 18 include:
- 1294 – Kublai Khan, Mongol emperor (b. 1215)
- 1455 – Fra Angelico, Italian priest and painter (b. 1395)
Here’s one of his most famous paintings, “The Annunciation”, now in the Prado:
- 1546 – Martin Luther, German priest and theologian, leader of the Protestant Reformation (b. 1483)
- 1564 – Michelangelo, Italian sculptor and painter (b. 1475)
- 1967 – J. Robert Oppenheimer, American physicist and academic (b. 1904)
- 1998 – Harry Caray, American sportscaster (b. 1914)
- 2006 – Bill Cowsill, American singer and guitarist (b. 1948)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s just trying to get some rest on Andrzej’s chair:
A:What are you thinking about?Hili: That whenever I sleep here you come to disturb me.
Ja: Nad czym myślisz?Hili: Nad tym, że ile razy tu śpię, to przychodzisz mi przeszkadzać.
And here’s Paulina, who brought baby Hili to Malgorzata and Andrzej a decade ago, photographing Kulka—who may be related to Hili—in the snow (photos by Andrzej):
Apropos of Tuesday’s cynical take on modern pop songs (and Ariana Grande in particular), reader Kieran sends this from SMBC:
More humor for the aged from reader David:
From Jesus of the Day:
From Luana: words worth pondering:
Most everyone in academia thinks they'd be Galileo.
— The Dread Pirate Jussim (@PsychRabble) February 17, 2021
A tweet from Simon. CRISPR, of course, is the newest and coolest way of editing genes:
Crispr is amazing pic.twitter.com/2B1ksnq0Qa
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) February 16, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. First, he got THE JAB!:
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) February 17, 2021
Oldest DNA yet recovered, and sequenced as well. There were two lineages of mammoths in Siberia at the time, only one of which colonized North America:
This mammoth tooth is 1.2 million years old.
We have recovered DNA from it.
This is the oldest DNA ever sequenced.
The results are published today in Nature:https://t.co/OaOTh7mOzo
[THREAD] ⬇️⬇️⬇️ pic.twitter.com/RWR5dyIAll
— Centre for Palaeogenetics (@CpgSthlm) February 17, 2021
Herding cows is easier than herding cats:
Just add the theme tune from The Great Escape or possibly Benny Hill, which ever suits best! 🐄🏃🏻♂️ pic.twitter.com/Rvon1f6JZ2
— James Robinson (@JRfromStrickley) February 17, 2021
They’re so lovely but so vicious. . . .
BEAUTIFUL BUT WATCH UNTIL THE END 😱
Beroe comb jellies are basically bags with mouths attached. Their many rows of "teeth" are microscopic & flexible. Once they've eaten some teeth zipper the mouth shut while others act as meat grinders. Ack!#DailyJelly pic.twitter.com/ramzJ3A9dm
— Open Ocean Exploration (@RebeccaRHelm) February 16, 2021
Of this one Matthew says, “I hope she got therapy afterwards.” I have no idea what this is from, but if it’s a practical joke, it’s not funny. I suspect it’s from a Japanese game show or something:
— No Context Humans (@HumansNoContext) February 16, 2021
This is the kind of thing theologians get paid to argue about:
Learning a lot on /r/catholicism pic.twitter.com/uXFlnge4yA
— Matt 🧘♂️ (@domegege95) February 16, 2021