. . . aaand, we have a winner; a cat whose staff is reader John McLoughlin.
An image of Higgs Boson, rescued on the day the eponymous God Particle was confirmed at CERN.
News of the Day:
Russian dissident Alexei Navalny is about to begin a 2½-year sentence in a really dire Russian prison camp 60 miles east of Moscow. In the meantime, the Biden administration, to its credit, is preparing new sanctions on Russia for its treatment of Navalny (remember, they tried to poison him first). They may be wimps regarding Saudi Arabia, but at least they’re standing up to Putin. But now revelations of Navalny’s xenophobic comments are surfacing, and they were serious enough to have Amnesty International revoke his status as a “prisoner of conscience.” That was a mistake for Amnesty International, even if Navalny isn’t perfect. After all, he is a prisoner of conscience.
Here’s Navalny and his wife Yulia; they have two daughters, one a student at Stanford, and live in a three-room apartment in Moscow.
Inside the Beltway, Elizabeth Warren is calling for Biden to forgive $50,000 in student loan debt for everyone. (That money, of course, will be paid by us, the taxpayers.) Biden is prepared to go to $10,000 for federal loans, but not more. It rubs me the wrong way to see ex-students on the news who say that they deserve to have all their debt forgiven, which seems to me a tad unethical. What will happen to future students, who won’t benefit? And what about those who have paid off their debts? Readers can and should weigh in here, as I haven’t thought about the issue much.
Now that Andrew Cuomo is facing two accusations of sexual harassment, it looks like he’ll soon be gone. It’s good that he’s called for a completely independent investigation of the charges, and we’ll soon know, I hope, how bad things were. Harassing those over whom you have power is just not on, and he should have known that, but we don’t know anything beyond the accusations. My own view is that he’s toast, but that’s based on the accusations alone and the Zeitgeist, not a deep knowledge of the facts. Already people are calling for his resignation.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 514,404, an increase of about 1,500 deaths over yesterday’s figure The reported world death toll stands at 2,551,987, an increase of about 7,700 deaths over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on March 2 includes:
- 1657 – Great Fire of Meireki: A fire in Edo (now Tokyo), Japan, caused more than 100,000 deaths; it lasted three days.
Here’s a handscroll depicting the first (the houses were wooden, of course). It destroyed 60-70% of the city. Wikipedia says it’s rumored to have started this way:
The fire was said to have been started accidentally by a priest who was cremating an allegedly cursed kimono. The kimono had been owned in succession by three teenage girls who all died before ever being able to wear it. When the garment was being burned, a large gust of wind fanned the flames causing the wooden temple to ignite
Here’s one of those notes, now worth $75,000 or so:
- 1807 – The U.S. Congress passes the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves, disallowing the importation of new slaves into the country.
- 1836 – Texas Revolution: The Declaration of independence of the Republic of Texas from Mexico is adopted.
- 1877 – Just two days before inauguration, the U.S. Congress declares Rutherford B. Hayes the winner of the 1876 U.S. presidential election even though Samuel J. Tilden had won the popular vote.
Sound familiar? Now this is a complicated one. Hayes won this way (from Wikipedia):
The results of the election remain among the most disputed ever. Although it is not disputed that Tilden outpolled Hayes in the popular vote, after a first count of votes, Tilden had won 184 electoral votes to Hayes’s 165, with 20 votes from four states unresolved: in Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina, each party reported its candidate had won the state, while in Oregon, one elector was replaced after being declared illegal for being an “elected or appointed official”. The question of who should have been awarded these electoral votes is the source of the continued controversy.
An informal deal was struck to resolve the dispute: the Compromise of 1877, which awarded all 20 electoral votes to Hayes; in return for the Democrats’ acquiescence to Hayes’ election, the Republicans agreed to withdraw federal troops from the South, ending Reconstruction.
The 1876 election is the second of five presidential elections in which the person who won the most popular votes did not win the election, but the only such election in which the popular vote winner received a majority (rather than a plurality) of the popular vote.
MacLean (spelling is wrong in the birthday entry above) fired a shot but missed. He was found guilty by reason of insanity and spent his life in the Broadmoor Lunatic Asylum. He tried to shoot the queen because he sent her some poetry and got a curt reply.
- 1903 – In New York City the Martha Washington Hotel opens, becoming the first hotel exclusively for women.
- 1949 – Captain James Gallagher lands his B-50 Superfortress Lucky Lady II in Fort Worth, Texas, after completing the first non-stop around-the-world airplane flight in 94 hours and one minute.
This of course required in-flight refueling. As Wikipedia reports:
En route, the aircraft was refueled four times by KB-29M Superfortresses, near Lajes Air Base in the Azores, Dhahran Airfield in Saudi Arabia, Clark Air Base in the Philippines, and Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, using the soon-to-be obsolete grappled-line looped-hose technique.
That technique required the tanker to grab a cable from the receiver plane and then feed a hose via the cable back to the receiver. The tanker would the climb above the receiver plane so that the fuel could flow down via gravity. Here’s the B-50 being refueled on its round-the-world flight. Looks pretty messy, no?
- 1962 – Wilt Chamberlain sets the single-game scoring record in the National Basketball Association by scoring 100 points.
This is still the record for points in a single game. It was not televised and no video exists. To the right: Wilt’s scores each quarter.
- 1970 – Rhodesia declares itself a republic, breaking its last links with the British crown.
- 1983 – Compact discs and players are released for the first time in the United States and other markets. They had previously been available only in Japan.
- 1995 – Researchers at Fermilab announce the discovery of the top quark.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1793 – Sam Houston, American soldier and politician, 1st President of the Republic of Texas (d. 1863)
- 1859 – Sholem Aleichem, Ukrainian-American author and playwright (d. 1916)
Aleichem’s real name was Solomon Naumovich Rabinovich, with the pseudonym being, of course, a greeting in Yiddish. His stories about Tevye the Dairyman were turned into a famous play, and you surely know what it is.
- 1902 – Moe Berg, American baseball player and spy (d. 1972)
Look at that description! Yes, he was a catcher (a mediocre one, to be sure) and a spy in Europe before WWII, but was also known as “the brainiest guy in baseball”. Berg was also one of the few Jews to play major league ball. From Wikipedia:
A graduate of Princeton University and Columbia Law School, Berg spoke several languages and regularly read ten newspapers a day. His reputation as an intellectual was fueled by his successful appearances as a contestant on the radio quiz show Information Please, in which he answered questions about the etymology of words and names from Greek and Latin, historical events in Europe and the Far East, and ongoing international conferences.
- 1904 – Dr. Seuss, American children’s book writer, poet, and illustrator (d. 1991)
- 1921 – Ernst Haas, Austrian-American photographer and journalist (d. 1986)
Haas was one of my photographic role models when I took up color slide photography in grad school. Here’s one of his photos:
- 1930 – Tom Wolfe, American journalist and author (d. 2018)
I reviewed Wolfe’s last book, which was a takedown of both Charles Darwin and Noam Chomsky, in a 2016 Washington Post article. As you can see, I was not kind to him.
- 1931 – Mikhail Gorbachev, Russian lawyer and politician, President of the Soviet Union, Nobel Prize laureate
Gorby turns 90 today, and Matthew sent me this in celebration: he was in a Pizza Hut ad! It’s for real (he was strapped for cash):
As Mikhail Gorbachev turns an impressive 90, it seems only fair to relive one of his most iconic moments, his starring role in a Pizza Hut advert pic.twitter.com/l8qsh3iq1R
— Francis Scarr (@francska1) March 2, 2021
- 1942 – John Irving, American novelist and screenwriter
- 1942 – Lou Reed, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, and actor (d. 2013)
- 1950 – Karen Carpenter, American singer (d. 1983)
What can I say? If she had married me, as she should have, she’d still be alive today. That, of course, is my fantasy, but she was one of the two great pop female voices of our time (the other is Barbra Streisand). Below: an example from the Carpenters’ live BBC concert in 1971 (the BBC’s live concerts were the best). This song, “For All We Know,” has been used continually at weddings. Listen to that voice!
- 2010 – Hailey Dawson, American with a 3D-printed robotic hand
Those who kicked the bucket on March 2 include:
- 1791 – John Wesley, English cleric and theologian (b. 1703)
- 1797 – Horace Walpole, English historian and politician (b. 1717)
- 1930 – D. H. Lawrence, English novelist, poet, playwright, and critic (b. 1885)
- 1939 – Howard Carter, English archaeologist and historian (b. 1874)
- 1991 – Serge Gainsbourg, French singer-songwriter, actor, and director (b. 1928)
Serge! Remember this song, and how it was damned for being salacious? (There’s clearly sex going on here!) Only in France would a song like this be recorded (it was written by Gainsbourg for Brigitte Bardot). Gainsbourg died at 62 of a heart attack, and it may not be irrelevant that he smoked 5 backs of unfiltered Gitanes a day. Have you ever had one of those cigarettes? OY!
- 1999 – Dusty Springfield, English singer (b. 1939)
One more from Dusty; this is my favorite song of hers, though “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” is more popular:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili seems bored:
Hili: Scratching myself with this stick is a difficult art.A: You don’t have to do it.Hili: It’s an interesting challenge.
Hili: Drapanie się tym patyczkiem to trudna sztuka.Ja: Nie musisz tego robić.Hili: To jest interesujące wyzwanie.
Also in Dobrzyn, Little Kulka is, as the caption goes, “Helping with the trimming of the trees.”
From Stash Krod:
From Barry: a cat apparently learns a trick in one go. I find this hard to believe but it’s funny:
— Larry the Cat (@Number10cat) February 27, 2021
From reader Jeremy, who says, “Like breaking wind in an elevator, this is wrong on so many levels. But it still made me laugh.” Dr. Johnson’s story about a dog walking on two legs comes to mind.
More about the wonderful sisters just here 👇 https://t.co/ZqdEaQr751
— Classic FM (@ClassicFM) February 26, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. The first shows a stunning murmuration of starlings (Matthew and I love these patterns), but they’re responding to a threat. Enlarge the video and see if you can see it. This is a prime example of the “herd effect” for avoiding predation:
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) March 1, 2021
As the Brits say, “Wait for it.” (You won’t have to wait long.)
Galway Bay Today 🐬
🎥 Steve Sweeney pic.twitter.com/DVDqtTBjFs
— Galway Together (@galway_together) February 28, 2021
This is about the weirdest beetle I’ve ever seen, and, as you know, God made thousands of beetle species:
— Keita Matsumoto (@Keita_Mats) February 28, 2021
This is like a vision from a dream:
— Roberto Ochoa (@robertoochoahe) February 23, 2021
I don’t completely buy this one, because when I cover the middle line the bottom block still looks a bit brighter.
Oh my god… pic.twitter.com/u8lQABFuQO
— Hasan Ali (@serotoninkid) February 28, 2021