Welcome to the week’s end: Friday, February 19, 2021: National Chocolate Mint Day. It’s also Friday Fish Fry Day, and (appropriately) National Tartar Sauce Day, as well as Iwo Jima Day, marking the day in 1945 when the battle on that island began.
Here’s a view of Lake Michigan at sunrise yesterday, looking east from high above Hyde Park. (The road is Lake Shore Drive.) Photographer Phoebe Rice gives the caption: “The sun trying to rise over/through lake-effect snow clouds. In person it was more like a thin pillar of light pointing up.”
I think at least 30% of the lake is frozen over now; I haven’t seen that since I arrived in Chicago in 1986.
News of the Day:
Bitter cold has gripped the southern U.S., especially Texas and Louisiana. Many have been without power for days, and people are also without heat, and melting snow on their stoves for water. Here is an unheard-of view of the bayou, with icicles amidst the Spanish Moss, in Louisiana —from The duck girl (!):
Frozen Louisiana – video pic.twitter.com/KtUE0etQhQ
— The duck girl (@Louisianaboater) February 17, 2021
I hoped you watched the Mars Rover land yesterday; it was really exciting and gripping. I think they’ll soon start broadcasting video and some audio soon, as well as sending up the four-pound helicopter drone to scout the terrain. I checked out the landing site this morning, and oy, was it cold!
Here’s another treat, and I’ll save you the time by telling you to click here (and wait a few seconds):
and wait like 2 seconds lmao
— Gavalar (@Gava1ar) February 19, 2021
Bob Dole announced yesterday that he has stage 4 lung cancer, which of course is a terminal diagnosis. These days he seems like a positively centrist Republican, doesn’t he? At any rate, he’s 97 and was low key in his announcement:
“My first treatment will begin on Monday. While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges of their own,” the 97-year-old Dole said in a statement.
A black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes), one of the most threatened species in America, has been cloned, the first time an individual of an American endangered species has been produced this way. The female, named Elizabeth Ann (below) was derived from the cells of a ferret who was frozen after its death in 1988. After gestation of the embryo in a domestic ferret, the lovely Elizabeth Ann was born healthy, and is being kept along with future clones siblings in a research center. Their offspring will be bred to wild black-footed ferrets to increase the genetic diversity of the wild population, now estimated at about 1,000. However, the wild ones are highly inbred, being in effect half-siblings. Here’s Elizabeth Ann:
Lucky man of the week. According to the BBC, a healthy Brit in his thirties was offered the Covid vaccine after his height was mistakenly recorded as 6.2 cm (that’s 2.4 inches!). He’s actually 6′ 2″, but the erroneous measurement gave him a body mass index of 28,000, which is way, way above “morbidly obsese” (“obsese” is a BMI of 30).
[Liam Thorp] told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I’ve put on a few pounds in lockdown but I was surprised to have made it to clinically, morbidly-obese.
“It really made me rethink what I was going to do for pancake night.”
An honest man, Thorp checked with the NHS, which is how the error was discovered.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 492,946, an increase of about 2,600 deaths over yesterday’s figure We are likely to exceed half a million deaths within a week. The reported world death toll stands 2,454,251, an increase of about 11,400 deaths over yesterday’s total. The death rate appears to be dropping worldwide, as well as in the U.S.
A lot of stuff happened on February 19, and includes:
- 1600 – The Peruvian stratovolcano Huaynaputina explodes in the most violent eruption in the recorded history of South America.
- 1674 – England and the Netherlands sign the Treaty of Westminster, ending the Third Anglo-Dutch War. A provision of the agreement transfers the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam to England, and it is renamed New York.
- 1807 – Former Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr is arrested for treason in Wakefield, Alabama and confined to Fort Stoddert.
- 1847 – The first group of rescuers reaches the Donner Party.
- 1878 – Thomas Edison patents the phonograph.
Here’s that patent:
- 1913 – Pedro Lascuráin becomes President of Mexico for 45 minutes; this is the shortest term to date of any person as president of any country.
- 1915 – World War I: The first naval attack on the Dardanelles begins when a strong Anglo-French task force bombards Ottoman artillery along the coast of Gallipoli.
- 1942 – World War II: Nearly 250 Japanese warplanes attack the northern Australian city of Darwin, killing 243 people.
- 1945 – World War II: Battle of Iwo Jima: About 30,000 United States Marines land on the island of Iwo Jima.
Here’s a photo of the landing:
- 1949 – Ezra Pound is awarded the first Bollingen Prize in poetry by the Bollingen Foundation and Yale University.
At the time Pound, an American, was locked in St. Elizabeths mental hospital in Washington, D.C., where he stayed for 12 years. He had been charged with treason but was never tried. His fellow artists helped secure his release in 1958, and he went to Italy, where he died in 1972. Here’s his mug shot when he was arrested:
- 1963 – The publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique reawakens the feminist movement in the United States as women’s organizations and consciousness raising groups spread.
- 1976 – Executive Order 9066, which led to the relocation of Japanese Americans to internment camps, is rescinded by President Gerald Ford’s Proclamation 4417.
- 2002 – NASA’s Mars Odyssey space probe begins to map the surface of Mars using its thermal emission imaging system.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1473 – Nicolaus Copernicus, Polish mathematician and astronomer (d. 1543)
- 1859 – Svante Arrhenius, Swedish physicist and chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1927)
- 1876 – Constantin Brâncuși, Romanian-French sculptor, painter, and photographer (d. 1957)
Here’s Brancusi’s sculptural portrait of the heiress and activist Nancy Cunard, along with the subject:
- 1917 – Carson McCullers, American novelist, short story writer, playwright, and essayist (d. 1967)
- 1940 – Smokey Robinson, American singer-songwriter and producer
What a great musician! Here’s Robinson with The Miracles, live, singing what I think is his best song (and among the best five soul songs):
- 1942 – Will Provine, American biologist, historian, and academic (d. 2015)
- 1946 – Karen Silkwood, American technician and activist (d. 1974)
Silkwood, played by Meryl Streep in the eponymous movie, died in a mysterious car crash at the age of just 28; she had been critical of the safety at the nuclear-fuel facilities at the Kerr-McGee plant in Oklahoma, and many think that the company had her killed. Here she is:
Those who met Cerberus on February 19 include:
- 1916 – Ernst Mach, Austrian-Czech physicist and philosopher (b. 1838)
- 1951 – André Gide, French novelist, essayist, and dramatist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1869)
- 2016 – Umberto Eco, Italian novelist, literary critic, and philosopher (b. 1932)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the Dudess abides:
A: What are you doing?Hili: I’m waiting for better times.
Ja: Co robisz?
Hili: Czekam na lepsze czasy.
And the baby kitty (Paulina takes a gazillion pictures of Kulka and Szaron):
Caption: Kulka in Paulina’s lens.
From Pyers, who said “This popped up within 15 minutes after the rover landed on Mars.” It uses a photo from the rover itself, so someone was just waiting with a Bernie shot:
From Moto. Does anybody fall for this any more? I still get about three calls a week, and my Honda is 21 years old!
From Merilee, a great way to designate restrooms. For foreigners who might be baffled, there’s a convenient penis on the male d*g.
From Titania, defending the argot of the Woke.
If you don't understand what this sentence means, you're part of the problem. pic.twitter.com/vWb9my23CE
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) February 17, 2021
From Luana. This is what happens, as I predicted, when you “defund the police”:
Eventually reality hits us in the face. We can either try to see it as it is and make decisions based on truth, or we can avoid it and twist and turn and make false narratives that make us feel better in the short term.
I’m not sure it’s possible to be objective, but we can try https://t.co/QtThn9cNcg
— Desi-Rae Thinking 🙂 (@desiraethinking) February 18, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. The first is a long thread detailing a cat rescue by an astrophysicist. Follow it up to today: the cat is getting better!
The news from the vet wasn’t great. @aneles (who with transport & language help has made this all possible) and I were told it was touch n’ go, but we could try antibiotics and a stay at the vet clinic to see if we can pull him through.
Everyone think warm ginger-kitty thoughts. pic.twitter.com/hsXIbCzr4L
— Elizabeth Tasker (@girlandkat) January 25, 2021
There are literally hundreds of cold-stunned sea turtles warming up at rescue centers in Texas. Kudos to the volunteers who are saving the turtles’ lives.
My mom is retired, & she spends her winters volunteering at a sea turtle rescue center in south Texas. The cold snap is stunning the local turtles & they’re doing a lot of rescues. She sent me this photo today of the back of her Subaru. It’s *literally* turtles all the way down. pic.twitter.com/xaDRNjLDoQ
— Lara (@lara_hand) February 15, 2021
Look at the colors on this squirrel! The white bit is probably leucistic, but I don’t get the calico coloring, which I’ve never seen before in a squirrel:
As a side project, I have been collecting white squirrel and other color morphs for 12 years. I have over 40K citizen science location reports. New ones are sent every day and I have NEVER seen one like this before. Thanks for this oddball! Made my day. pic.twitter.com/9j3Cedqbdj
— Rob Nelson (@UntamedScience) February 17, 2021
Matthew sent me this trying to cheer me up after I was moaning about being mortal. Sadly, I had to respond:
This is heartening, but it's almost surely due to big decreases in child mortality, not to having older adults live a lot longer. https://t.co/UCt2ilGtq8
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) February 18, 2021
And look! A gazillion harvestmen! As I said when I retweeted this, Harvestmen are not spiders, as commonly thought. Instead, they are arthropods in the order Opiliones, an order different from that of the spiders (Araneae).
— iNaturalist (@inaturalist) February 10, 2021
And a man makes friends with a wary foster cat, who soon becomes a Forever Cat. Lottie!
This guy is determined to get his foster cat to love him ❤️ pic.twitter.com/P7D49t8YWw
— The Dodo (@dodo) February 18, 2021