News of the Day:
First, some biology news: Researchers studying deep-sea sharks off New Zealand have shown that at least three species glow in the dark. Yes, their bellies are bioluminescent, as you can see in the photo below. Why do they do this? Here are two hypotheses, and you can read more in the original linked scientific article:
Researchers suggest these three species’ glowing underbellies may help camouflage them from any threats that might strike from beneath. [JAC: This seems unlikely, as they live in the dark abysses, and looking up a predator wouldn’t see a light background.]
In the case of the kitefin shark, which has few or no predators, it is possible that the slow-moving species uses its natural glow to illuminate the ocean floor while it searches for food, or to disguise itself while approaching its prey.
Figure from the paper; caption: ” Lateral and dorsal luminescent pattern of Dalatias licha. (A) Lateral daylight view and luminescent pattern highlighting the dorso-ventral luminous pattern.”
Nor do we know what biochemical mechanism causes the bioluminescence (h/t Jez)
As I predicted, Andrew Cuomo is toast; another woman has come forward with accusations that the governor touched her inappropriately and tried to kiss her. That makes three accusers total, and calls for his resignation have grown.
According to many news sources, including the Associated Press, six Dr. Seuss books have been deemed racist by Dr. Seuss Enterprises: “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street”, “If I Ran the Zoo”, “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.” As the Enterprises said, the books:
. . . will stop being published because of racist and insensitive imagery, the business that preserves and protects the author’s legacy said Tuesday.
“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises told The Associated Press in a statement that coincided with the late author and illustrator’s birthday.
“Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” it said.
I haven’t seen the imagery, so I can’t report on it, but the evening news said it involved Chinese people with lines for eyes and bare-chested Africans wearing grass skirts. That sounds pretty dire, but they could alway re-do the figures. Seuss was a prominent anti-racist, though, and some of his books explicitly teach this to kids.
UPDATE: I found one of the offending images shown by the Indian Express. You be the judge:
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 515,710, an increase of about 1,300 deaths over yesterday’s figure The reported world death toll stands at 2,562,441, an increase of about 6,500 deaths over yesterday’s total. Both figures continue to fall.
The rate of new Covid cases has dropped precipitously—19% in the last two weeks, with a 29% drop in hospitalizations. Here’s the plot of new cases from the NYT (there’s a wee plateau at the end that I trust will be temporary before further drops):
Stuff that happened on March 3 includes:
- 1820 – The U.S. Congress passes the Missouri Compromise.
- 1859 – The two-day Great Slave Auction, the largest such auction in United States history, concludes.
This auction, which went from March 2nd to 3rd, saw the sale of about 436 men, women, children and even infants, all auctioned off by Pierce Mease Butler to pay gambling debts. Read this section to see the horror, and also read this about Butler. The auction was also called “the weeping time” for obvious reasons. Imagine having families broken up on the spot. Here’s are the miscreants:
- 1873 – Censorship in the United States: The U.S. Congress enacts the Comstock Law, making it illegal to send any “obscene literature and articles of immoral use” through the mail.
- 1875 – The first ever organized indoor game of ice hockey is played in Montreal, Quebec, Canada as recorded in the Montreal Gazette.
- 1891 – Shoshone National Forest is established as the first national forest in the US and world.
- 1913 – Thousands of women march in the Woman Suffrage Procession in Washington, D.C.
Here’s a photo of the procession, with the women all in white. They finally won the right to vote in 1920 when Tennessee became the last state needed to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
- 1924 – The 407-year-old Islamic caliphate is abolished, when Caliph Abdülmecid II of the Ottoman Caliphate is deposed. The last remnant of the old regime gives way to the reformed Turkey of Kemal Atatürk.
Ataturk, a great secularist and modernist, brought Turkey into the modern era. Here he is introducing the new Turkish alphabet in 1928:
- 1931 – The United States adopts The Star-Spangled Banner as its national anthem.
- 1938 – Oil is discovered in Saudi Arabia.
Here’s the discover, a gusher on this date from Dammam No. 7, the first commercial oil well in Saudi Arabia. Now we are friends with this dictatorship, and shame on Joe Biden for not punishing the Prince for ordering the death of Jamal Khashoggi.
- 1939 – In Bombay, Mohandas Gandhi begins a hunger strike in protest at the autocratic rule in British India.
This one, one of Gandhi’s many hunger strikes, lasted only 3 days.
- 1943 – World War II: In London, 173 people are killed in a crush while trying to enter an air-raid shelter at Bethnal Green tube station.
The air-raid Civil Defence siren sounded at 8:17 pm, triggering a heavy but orderly flow of people down the blacked-out staircase from the street. A middle-aged woman and a child fell over, three steps up from the base and others fell around her, tangled in an immovable mass which grew, as they struggled, to nearly 300 people. Some got free but 173, most of them women and children, were crushed and asphyxiated. Some 60 others were taken to hospital. News of the disaster was withheld for 36 hours and reporting of what had happened was censored, giving rise to allegations of a cover-up, although it was in line with existing wartime reporting restrictions.
- 1951 – Jackie Brenston, with Ike Turner and his band, records “Rocket 88“, often cited as “the first rock and roll record“, at Sam Phillips‘s recording studios in Memphis, Tennessee.
And here is that song, which sounds like rock and roll to me:
- 1986 – The Australia Act 1986 commences, causing Australia to become fully independent from the United Kingdom.
- 1991 – An amateur video captures the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers.
Four officers were tried, and none were convicted. The riots then began, and 64 people were killed. King eventually got a multimillion dollar civil settlement from Los Angeles.
Here’s a news report that shows part of the video. Talk about police brutality!
Notables born on this day include:
- 1847 – Alexander Graham Bell, Scottish-American engineer and academic, invented the telephone (d. 1922)
- 1882 – Charles Ponzi, Italian businessman (d. 1949)
Yes, the Ponzi who gave his name to the scheme he perpetrated:
The original “blonde bombshell” died at only 26 from kidney failure. She died during the filming of the movie “Saratoga,” also starring Clark Gable. They finished filming with a body double. Here’s a report on that last movie with some scenes:
- 1923 – Doc Watson, American bluegrass singer-songwriter and musician (d. 2012)
Here’s Doc singing one of his most famous songs:
- 1959 – Ira Glass, American radio host and producer
- 1968 – Brian Cox, English keyboard player and physicist
- 1982 – Jessica Biel, American actress, singer, and producer
Those who passed away on March 3 include:
- 1706 – Johann Pachelbel, German organist and composer (b. 1653)
I call him “Taco Bell,” which angers my classical-music friends, who think I don’t know the composer’s real name.
- 1959 – Lou Costello, American actor and comedian (b. 1906)
- 1987 – Danny Kaye, American actor, singer, and dancer (b. 1911)
- 1993 – Albert Sabin, Polish-American physician and virologist (b. 1906)
- 2018 – Roger Bannister, English middle-distance athlete, first man to run a four-minute mile (b. 1929)
Here’s Bannister’s great run, set in 1954, narrated by the runner himself. The present record is 3:43.13 set in 1999 by the Moroccan runner Hicham El Guerrouj.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has climbed up to the second floor and is on the roof of the veranda, where sometimes she asks to be let into the flat of Paulina and her husband. That’s where Kulka and Szaron live.
Hili: I don’t see Kulka, I will come and visit.Kulka: And then I will jump on her.(Picture: Paulina R.)
Hili: Kulki nie widać, wejdę z wizytą.Kulka: A wtedy ja na nią skoczę.(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)
From Jesus of the Day:
A tweet from Simon. We’ve learned lately at Botany Pond that mallards hate to walk on ice, and would much rather swim a longer distance than have to cross ice. This shows that very well:
duck train pic.twitter.com/tsWTzqypXO
— josh (@slimeslinger) March 2, 2021
Reader Barry found a whole thread of tweets showing cartoons using classical music written by great composers. Here are four specimens:
I don’t know who can listen to the famous opera “The Barber of Seville” by Gioachino Rossini without thinking of Bugs Bunny. The way director Chuck Jones synchronizes the slapstick action to the soundtrack is flat-out masterful. pic.twitter.com/t58QbRsmmw
— Vincent Alexander (@NonsenseIsland) March 1, 2021
You may not know Franz Schubert’s “Der Erlkönig” by name, you’ll know it when you hear it, thanks to Looney Tunes cartoons. It was written about a supernatural king of the fairies, but WB composer Carl Stalling would always pull it out to underscore a villain’s entrance. pic.twitter.com/BBLcZG04eE
— Vincent Alexander (@NonsenseIsland) March 1, 2021
Tweets from Matthew, who’s quite enamored with Mars and Perseverance. He says that the video is only 1.5 minutes in this tweet but 30 minutes on YouTube. The video comprises concatenated images taken from Perseverance’s mast camera:
This is MARS
Spend 30 minutes on Mars in 4k UHD
Music by @chriszabriskie
Made with @NASAPersevere Mastcam-Z images
Reviews so far…
Full 30 minutes: https://t.co/tgCM9Qfg8H pic.twitter.com/nt9NrarBNS
— Seán Doran (@_TheSeaning) March 1, 2021
A dead Irishman had a recording, made before his death, put in his coffin and played to the amazed funeral goers. Leave ’em laughing!
Irish man pulls his final prank 👌… pic.twitter.com/gIABAtWeyQ
— HardCore Humor (@HardCoreHumor1) March 2, 2021
a. Why are the Lithuanians honoring Tony Soprano?
b. Where are the ducks?
tony soprano statue in lithuania pic.twitter.com/5fgRvs8Byw
— einstürzende neuböltōn 🇮🇹👑 (@AmbJohnBoIton) March 1, 2021
The assertion in the tweet is certainly true, and very well demonstrated, by this video, but I don’t know how general it is.
Cats have a precise method of walking called ‘direct registering’.
Their hind paws fall inside the place of their forepaws — minimizing noise and visible tracks — while ensuring more stable footing. Amazing… pic.twitter.com/2HiuIX7R2t
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) March 1, 2021
And this is fantastic! Sound up.
— place where cat shouldn't be (@catshouldnt) March 2, 2021