Welcome to the cruelest day of the week: Tuesday, February 23, 2021: National Banana Bread Day. It’s also International D*g Biscuit Appreciation Day, Curling is Cool Day (I can’t help but laugh when those sweepers brush the ice frantically in front of the stone), National Rationalization Day, and World Spay Day.
News of the Day:
The lead story in all the American news is that the U.S. has finally passed half a million deaths from Covid19 (see below): greater than the combined U.S. combat deaths in World War I, World War II, and Vietnam.
Today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 500,103, an increase of about 1,500 deaths over yesterday’s figure The reported world death toll stands 2,487,130, an increase of about 8,100 deaths over yesterday’s total.
But the rate of new cases is falling, as shown by this NYT graphic:
Sunday’s NY Times front page featured a graphic made of nearly 500,000 dots, each one representing a single life lost to the pandemic. (h/t Mark):
Trump is enraged because the Supreme Court—his Supreme Court—has dealt him a serious blow: they’ve ruled that Trump has to turn over eight years of his tax records to prosecutors in New York. Here’s the terse order:
What’s next? Cyrus Vance (!), the Manhattan district attorney, gets to work:
. . . . the investigators will deliver the mass of data to the office of Mr. Vance, where the team of prosecutors, forensic accountants and analysts have been investigating Mr. Trump and his companies for a wide range of possible financial crimes. Mr. Vance, a Democrat, has been examining whether Mr. Trump, his company and its employees committed insurance, tax and banking fraud, among other crimes, people with knowledge of the matter have said.
We may see the Orange Man in a matching suit yet.
Biden is facing his first pushback on one of his cabinet nominations: Neera Tanden, whom Uncle Joe nominated to be the head of the Office of Management and Budget. The problem is that one Democratic Senator, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, is opposed to Tanden, and the Republican Senators most likely to vote for confirmation, Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, have both said they’ll vote “no.” If anything is to get done in the Senate, the Democrats have to vote as a bloc, as the GOP pretty much does already. One dissenter like Manchin can derail an entire bill.
And here’s the big banner headline from yesterday evening’s HuffPost, displacing everything else, including the Supreme Court denial and the pandemic toll (click on screenshot):
Stuff that happened on February 23 includes:
- 532 – Byzantine emperor Justinian I orders the building of a new Orthodox Christian basilica in Constantinople – the Hagia Sophia.
- 1455 – Traditional date for the publication of the Gutenberg Bible, the first Western book printed with movable type.
Well, we don’t know for sure about the date. But we do know that there are 49 copies of this valuable book, only 21 of which are complete; here’s one in the New York Public Library.
No copy has been sold since 1978, when one went for $2.2 million.
- 1898 – Émile Zola is imprisoned in France after writing J’Accuse…!, a letter accusing the French government of antisemitism and wrongfully imprisoning Captain Alfred Dreyfus.
- 1903 – Cuba leases Guantánamo Bay to the United States “in perpetuity”.
- 1917 – First demonstrations in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The beginning of the February Revolution (March 8 in the Gregorian calendar).
- 1927 – German theoretical physicist Werner Heisenberg writes a letter to fellow physicist Wolfgang Pauli, in which he describes his uncertainty principle for the first time.
Here’s part of Heisbenger’s letter to Pauli:
- 1941 – Plutonium is first produced and isolated by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg.
- 1942 – World War II: Japanese submarines fire artillery shells at the coastline near Santa Barbara, California.
This event injured nobody, but scared the hell out of the West coast, leading eventually to the internment of Japanese-Americans.
And a new tweet about 1942 sent me by Matthew:
Executed OTD in 1942
Boris Vildé, ethnographer
Anatole Lewitsky, anthropologist
Pierre Walter, photographer
Léon-Maurice Nordmann, lawyer
Georges Ithier, interpreter
Jules Andrieu, teacher
René Sénéchal, accountant
Founders of the 'Musée de l'Homme' resistance network
— Barbara Mellor (@barbara_mellor) February 23, 2021
- 1945 – World War II: During the Battle of Iwo Jima, a group of United States Marines reach the top of Mount Suribachi on the island and are photographed raising the American flag.
Here’s the famous photo taken by Joe Rosenthal of the AP (which gave up the copyright to put the photo in the public domain). Three of the six marines shown in this photo were later killed in the battle:
There was also a movie taken of this flag-raising, actually the second on the mountain, and the photo was taken during the filming. Here’s a short documentary about identifying the marines; the flag raising is about 55 seconds in:
- 1954 – The first mass inoculation of children against polio with the Salk vaccine begins in Pittsburgh.
Here’s Salk giving one of the first inoculations:
- 1974 – The Symbionese Liberation Army demands $4 million more to release kidnap victim Patty Hearst.
Hearst’s mug shot is below. She served 22 months before having her sentence commuted by Jimmy Carter, and later she was pardoned by Bill Clinton on his last day in office.
This is the first supernova that astronomers were able to study intensively. It’s the bright star in the middle of this photo:
Notables born on this day include:
- 1633 – Samuel Pepys, English diarist and politician (d. 1703)
- 1868 – W. E. B. Du Bois, American sociologist, historian, and activist (d. 1963)
- 1940 – Peter Fonda, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2019)
Remember this scene from Easy Rider?:
- 1944 – Johnny Winter, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (d. 2014)
- 1950 – Rebecca Goldstein, American philosopher and author
Born only 7 weeks after me, Rebecca and I are now the same age.
- 1979 – S. E. Cupp, American journalist and author
Those who went the way of all flesh on February 23 include:
- 1792 – Joshua Reynolds, English painter and academic (b. 1723)
- 1821 – John Keats, English poet (b. 1795)
Here’s a life mask of Keats by Benjamin Haydon made in 1816.
- 1848 – John Quincy Adams, American politician, 6th President of the United States (b. 1767)
- 1855 – Carl Friedrich Gauss, German mathematician, astronomer, and physicist (b. 1777)
- 1930 – Horst Wessel, German SA officer (b. 1907)
- 1944 – Leo Baekeland, Belgian-American chemist and engineer (b. 1863)
- 1965 – Stan Laurel, English actor and comedian (b. 1890)
A note about Laurel’s death taken from Wikipedia:
Laurel was a heavy smoker until suddenly quitting around 1960. In January 1965, he underwent a series of x-rays for an infection on the roof of his mouth. He died on 23 February 1965, aged 74, four days after suffering a heart attack. Minutes before his death, he told his nurse that he would not mind going skiing, and she replied that she was not aware that he was a skier. “I’m not,” said Laurel, “I’d rather be doing that than this!” A few minutes later he died quietly in his armchair.
At his funeral, Buster Keaton said, “Chaplin wasn’t the funniest. I wasn’t the funniest; this man was the funniest.” Dick Van Dyke gave the eulogy as a friend, protégé, and occasional impressionist of Laurel during his later years; he read The Clown’s Prayer. Laurel had quipped, “If anyone at my funeral has a long face, I’ll never speak to him again.” He was interred in Forest Lawn–Hollywood Hills Cemetery.
Laurel as a young man:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s being a hard-ass editor:Hili: No, it’s not an article for us.A: How do you know?Hili: Feline intuition.
Hili: Nie, to nie jest artykuł dla nas.Ja: Skąd wiesz?Hili: Kocia intuicja.
And here we have little Kulka climbing the lilac scaffold:
Caption: Kulka, a cool cat (Photo: Paulina R).
This was also on Facebook, posted by Aaron McGahee, and I found the photo so stunning that I must show it to you. (Caption, presumably by McGahee: “Astronaut Bruce McCandless II floats untethered away from the safety of the space shuttle, with nothing but his Manned Maneuvering Unit keeping him alive. The first person in history to do so. Credit: NASA”).
From Stash Krod:
Titania’s almost up to three dozen installments of Things That Are Racist. The latest installment includes MITTENS.
THINGS THAT ARE RACIST
• Dating apps
• Dungeons & Dragons
• Mittens pic.twitter.com/vEZDnlkvwy
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) February 22, 2021
Titania’s lesson must be this one:
From Barry, a takedown of Boris by a faux Attenborough:
Excellent, someone has done the inevitable Attenborough voice over. Perfect👌😂
Well done, whoever it was. pic.twitter.com/SpF7241o93
— Brendan May (@bmay) February 20, 2021
. . . and the inevitable Photoshop:
— Cold War Steve (@Coldwar_Steve) February 20, 2021
“He had an expression that made him look like he was straining to have a shit” – Suetonius on Vespasian https://t.co/EwuKoRngnA
— Tom Holland (@holland_tom) February 20, 2021
When math students are asked to show their work, white supremacy is at work pic.twitter.com/s4Y3fIWfSU
— Tom Woods (@ThomasEWoods) February 18, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. The Rover Perseverance is now transmitting pictures, which have been concatenated into the video below:
— Roman Tkachenko (@_RomanTkachenko) February 22, 2021
Did this koala get an itch, or did something bite it?
"WHAT THE FUCK, STEPHEN"
— Paul Bronks (@SlenderSherbet) February 21, 2021
Sound up for the baby otter noises and mom’s rescue:
Otterly adorable… sound on
— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) February 20, 2021