Welcome to the Cat Sabbath: Saturday, February 20, 2021, and National Muffin Day. It’s also National Cherry Pie Day, World Day of Social Justice, Love Your Pet Day, World Whale Day, and World Pangolin Day. Here are a pair of pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters (family Pholidota, eight species worldwide). The babies often ride on mom’s back:
Wine of the Day: Beaujolais is best NOT drunk as the alcoholic grape juice released each November 15 as “Beaujolais Nouveau.” That is a festive drink and goes down easily, but is for quaffing, not serious enjoyment. Fortunately, even the serious versions of Beaujolais, like the heavier Morgons or Moulin-a-Vents that I love, are not expensive. The one I had last night, a Beaujolais-Villages, lies above regular Beaujolais but ranks below the ten named crus. The bottle could not have cost me more than ten bucks, though I have no record. And, with a chicken breast and trimmings, it was a treat: fresh, fruity, and redolent of cherries, an adjective that almost everybody uses when it comes to Beaujolais. It might not be the wine you want with steak or beef burgundy, but it’ll go with almost any other meat. Many French restaurants serve a Beaujolais as the house red.
One review at the first link says that this is “best drunk when young”, before two years, but it showed no sign of senescence now. And if you want a real treat, try finding a Morgon from a good producer (Duboeuf is reliable), especially if it comes from a named grower like Jean Descombes. It is a delicious tipple, will age well, and will set you back no more than $15.
News of the Day:
There’s not a lot of exciting news: the Pfizer vaccine can take higher temperatures than thought, Ted Cruz is in big trouble for fleeing to Cancun, and the Biden stimulus package is winning converts. I got over 500 emails yesterday. I’ll give a few lighter items.
The Washington Post has an article about a shop in Paris that sells antique travel posters, just a few blocks from where I lived in the Rue Jacob, and it’s wonderful to look at their offerings. I love the old French posters, and have one or two, including a large poster urging enlistment in World War I. The old travel posters have skyrocketed in price, but have also activated my Wanderlust. I desperately need to go somewhere, but every place is closed. (A Paris reader tells me that every restaurant in Paris is closed tight save for some “underground restaurants” known to cabbies. Paris was going to be my first big destination after vaccination, but it’s a no-go, for Paris without restaurants is like a pond without ducks.) At any rate, here are two old travel posters.
From 1921, 5,000 Euros:
From 1905: 3,750 Euros:
This Guardian headline is certainly clickbait (click on screenshot; h/t Jez):
Fortunately, the butt bite wasn’t serious. The brother of bitee Shannon Stevens describes the post-bite forensics:
“I opened the toilet seat and there’s just a bear face just right there at the level of the toilet seat, just looking right back up through the hole, right at me,” he said.
“I just shut the lid as fast as I could. I said, ‘There’s a bear down there, we got to get out of here now,”’ he said. “And we ran back to the yurt as fast as we could.”
Once safely inside, they treated Shannon with a first aid kit. They determined it wasn’t that serious, but they would head to Haines if it worsened.
“It was bleeding, but it wasn’t super bad,” Shannon said.
The next morning, they found bear tracks all over the property, but the bear had left the area. “You could see them across the snow, coming up to the side of the outhouse,” she said.
They figure the bear got inside the outhouse through an opening at the bottom of the back door.
Remind me to tell you the story of the pig and the outhouse in Goa, India. I witnessed a similar situation man years ago, but don’t want to ruin your appetite right now.
The number of new coronavirus cases is at last declining, which clearly shows in this plot from the NYT:
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 495,553, an increase of about 2,600 deaths over yesterday’s figure We are likely to exceed half a million deaths within three days. The reported world death toll stands 2,465,341, an increase of about 11,100 deaths over yesterday’s total. The death rate is dropping worldwide as well as in the U.S.
Stuff that happened on February 20 includes:
- 1472 – Orkney and Shetland are pawned by Norway to Scotland in lieu of a dowry for Margaret of Denmark.
- 1792 – The Postal Service Act, establishing the United States Post Office Department, is signed by United States President George Washington.
- 1816 – Rossini’s opera The Barber of Seville premieres at the Teatro Argentina in Rome.
- 1835 – The 1835 Concepción earthquake destroys Concepción, Chile.
Darwin was there when this happened, and famously wrote about it in The Voyage of the Beagle:
An earthquake instantly reverses the strongest ideas, the earth, the very emblem of solidity, has trembled under our feet like a thin crust placed on a fluid, a space of a second was enough to awaken the imagination a strange feeling of insecurity which hours of reflection would not have occurred. … But I confess that I saw with great satisfaction that all the people seemed more active and happier than it would have been expected after such a terrible catastrophe. It has been noted, with some truth, that being general destruction, no one felt more humble than his neighbour, no one could accuse his friends of coldness, two causes which always added a sharp pain to the loss of wealth. …
- 1877 – Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake receives its premiere at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.
- 1933 – The U.S. Congress approves the Blaine Act to repeal federal Prohibition in the United States, sending the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution to state ratifying conventions for approval.
- 1935 – Caroline Mikkelsen becomes the first woman to set foot in Antarctica.
She was accompanying her husband on an expedition, and landed, though it’s not clear whether it was on an island or on the continent proper. She was a Dane married to a Norwegian; here she is “raising the flag of Norway at a cairn on the Antarctic Tryne Islands, 1935.”
If you’ve been to O’Hare Airport in Chicago, you now know for whom it was named. Here’s Butch O’Hare in his Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat, showing the flags of 5 the Japanese bombers he shot down. Wikipedia adds “The wartime censor has blanked out the famous “Felix the Cat” squadron insignia on this photo.” O’Hare was shot down and disappeared in 1943. I’ve added the Felix the Cat insignia from the squadron:
- 1943 – The Saturday Evening Post publishes the first of Norman Rockwell‘s Four Freedoms in support of United States President Franklin Roosevelt‘s 1941 State of the Union address theme of Four Freedoms.
Here’s the original painting for “Freedom of Speech”, photographed in the Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA:
- 1962 – Mercury program: While aboard Friendship 7, John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the earth, making three orbits in four hours, 55 minutes.
- 1998 – American figure skater Tara Lipinski, at the age of 15, becomes the youngest Olympic figure skating gold-medalist at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1844 – Ludwig Boltzmann, Austrian physicist and philosopher (d. 1906)
- 1901 – René Dubos, French-American biologist and author (d. 1982)
- 1901 – Louis Kahn, American architect, designed the Salk Institute, the Kimbell Art Museum and the Bangladesh Parliament Building (d. 1974)
- 1902 – Ansel Adams, American photographer and environmentalist (d. 1984)
Here’s an Adams photo showing “relocated” Japanese-Americans working on a farm during World War II: they were put in the Manzanar Relocation Center in the Owens Valley of California, a place that you can now visit as a museum of that shameful time. It was a beautiful location for an American concentration camp.
- 1927 – Roy Cohn, American lawyer and political activist (d. 1986)
Now there was a bad piece of work. Famous for his helping Joe McCarthy during the Army/McCarthy hearings, Cohn worked for about every bad cause and miscreant who needed a lawyer, including Trump. Here he is with Joe:
- 1927 – Sidney Poitier, Bahamian-American actor, director, and diplomat
- 1941 – Buffy Sainte-Marie, Canadian singer-songwriter and producer
Buffy turns 80 today; here she is six years ago:
- 1942 – Mitch McConnell, American lawyer and politician
- 1950 – Walter Becker, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (d. 2017)
- 1954 – Patty Hearst, American actress and author
- 1966 – Cindy Crawford, American model and businesswoman
- 1984 – Trevor Noah, South African comedian, actor, and television host
Those “fell asleep” on February 20 include:
- 1895 – Frederick Douglass, American author and activist (b. c. 1818)
- 1920 – Robert Peary, American admiral and explorer (b. 1856)
- 1961 – Percy Grainger, Australian-American pianist and composer (b. 1882)
- 1999 – Gene Siskel, American journalist and critic (b. 1946)
- 2005 – Hunter S. Thompson, American journalist and author (b. 1937)
Thompson killed himself with a gun, and his funeral was a gala event, described by Wikipedia:
From Wikipedia: On August 20, 2005, in a private funeral, Thompson’s ashes were fired from a cannon. This was accompanied by red, white, blue, and green fireworks—all to the tune of Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” and Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man”. The cannon was placed atop a 153-foot (47 m) tower which had the shape of a double-thumbed fist clutching a peyote button, a symbol originally used in his 1970 campaign for sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado. The plans for the monument were initially drawn by Thompson and Steadman, and were shown as part of an Omnibus program on the BBC titled Fear and Loathing in Gonzovision (1978). It is included as a special feature on the second disc of the 2004 Criterion Collection DVD release of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and labeled as Fear and Loathing on the Road to Hollywood. According to his widow, Anita, the $3 million funeral was funded by actor Johnny Depp, who was a close friend of Thompson’s. Depp told the Associated Press, “All I’m doing is trying to make sure his last wish comes true. I just want to send my pal out the way he wants to go out.” An estimated 280 people attended, including U.S. Senators John Kerry and George McGovern; 60 Minutes correspondents Ed Bradley and Charlie Rose; actors Jack Nicholson, John Cusack, Bill Murray, Benicio del Toro, Sean Penn, and Josh Hartnett; musicians Lyle Lovett, John Oates and David Amram, and artist and long-time friend Ralph Steadman.
The tower holding the cannon, below, was torn down later in 2005 (photo by Paul Conrad, the Aspen Times):
And the duo depicted in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej and Hili are bargaining.
A: Can we start negotiation?Hili: What do you suggest?A: I will give you something tasty and you will let me work.Hili: For the moment, I’m not interested.
Ja: Czy możemy zacząć negocjacje?Hili: Co proponujesz?Ja: Dam ci coś smacznego, a ty mi pozwolisz pracować.Hili: Chwilowo nie jestem zainteresowana.
We have three cat memes today (well, it is Caturday, no?) The first is from Stephen. What a sad kitty!
A cat and a dog’s first date from Divy:
Titania is extremely prescient:
— MisterChispa (@MChispaaa) February 13, 2021
From Luana. I have to check to see if Titania has put this on her “things that are racist” list. Nope, not yet.
Did FritoLays write this? pic.twitter.com/iSNYyApgkt
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) February 18, 2021
From Barry, a tweet from the space editor of Ars Technica:
Don't let NASA fool you. "Percy" is no lovable, touchy feely explorer. It's actually a two-ton, nuclear powered, titanium robot that is going to spend a decade trampling over Mars, drilling into it mercilessly and stealing some rocks.
— Eric Berger (@SciGuySpace) February 18, 2021
Also from Barry, a quote from Rush Limbaugh. I’ve verified that Rush said at least the bit up to “one of us,” but haven’t yet verified the rest. Harambe was the gorilla who was shot by zookeepers in 2016 after a child fell into his enclosure. And you should be able to refute Rush’s claim, an old creationist chestnut.
As we continue to mourn the passing of Rush Limbaugh, let us remember that, back in 2016, he said if evolution were true then Harambe would’ve evolved into a human. pic.twitter.com/bAKEqEy744
— Take That Darwin (@TakeThatDarwin) February 18, 2021
From Simon. A PI is the “principal investigator,” a professor who runs the lab. I’m proud to say that I worked at the bench until the end.
PI who still works at the bench pic.twitter.com/02higiRsxM
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) February 19, 2021
Tweets from Matthew: This one is pretty amazing:
— Blue Planet Society (@Seasaver) February 19, 2021
I lived in Athens for 2½ years when I was about six, and I don’t remember ever seeing any snow that whole time. (In those years the Parthenon was open to the public, and I used to play inside it.)
I literally am left without words!
The Acropolis covered with snow.
— Xavi Ruiz (@xruiztru) February 17, 2021
Give the giraffe the carrot and run like hell!
the chances of being killed by a giraffe are low but never zero pic.twitter.com/SisbUYpJtl
— Animals Being Jerks (@MeanAnimals) February 18, 2021