Good morning on Friday,March 5, 2021: National Cheese Doodle Day (cheese-flavored styrofoam). Much better, it’s National Poutine Day (not easily available in the U.S.), National Absinthe Day, St Piran’s Day in Cornwall, and World Day of Prayer, which we can ignore.
News of the Day:
It looks like Biden’s stimulus bill will pass the Senate, and thus the House, but sans the raise in minimum wage, which the Senate parliamentarian nixed on procedural grounds. This is Biden’s first big legislative accomplishment in office, and kudos to him and his team! The GOP, however, is trying to stall the bill by asking Senate clerks to read the bill word by word. It is 628 pages long! That will take about 16 hours, and for what purpose? Thank Ceiling Cat this will be over today, and the Senate can proceed to a vote. I see nothing that Republicans accomplish by this stalling maneuver, though I’m sure that many in the GOP think this is hilarious.
Cat news from the Guardian: A moggy curled up on top of the engine of a fast Londton-to-Manchester train and refused to get down. Efforts to coax it down initially failed, and there was a danger the cat could touch the electrical wires and die. Finally, the passengers were transferred to another train, a bin was pulled up to the car to allow the cat to get down, and the feline made its exeunt stage left. A photo is below: (h/t: Matthew)
The words “committed suicide” should now be taken out of circulation, at least according to a woman writing at HuffPost whose son, err. . . committed suicide. She argues that that phrase should be replaced by “died by suicide.” I am really sorry for her loss, but it’s hard to imagine you can get closure by forcing others to use different phrases. The rationale:
We don’t say that our elders commit old age or commit death in their sleep. They die, of old age or heart failure. They die, by whatever cause. We don’t blame the one who suffers the disease.
When Austin took his life, he planned ahead. He left letters. He said goodbye, in his own way. And he ended his intense pain in his own way. How can such a desperate decision be considered a crime or a sin? I think saying he committed suicide blames Austin and stigmatizes his death. Haven’t we suffered enough by his loss without a side of ignominy and taboo?
. . . Bring them back to the light, your conversation, your family history, your mantel or photo album, with loving compassion, by proclaiming that they died by suicide,
Suicide is not of course a crime (well, it is in some places, but I’ve never seen any survivor prosecuted) or a sin! “Committed” simply means “took action”. You can’t “commit” a heart attack in the same way.
According to Newsweek (which seems to have become a right-wing site), eBay has now refused to sell the six banned Dr. Seuss books on the grounds that they’re offensive. As the writer notes:
This writer actually has access to a worn copy of one of the out-of-print books, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, and listed it on eBay late Tuesday afternoon. On Thursday morning, though, this writer received an email from eBay saying that the listing was removed for violating an “Offensive material policy.”
“Listings that promote or glorify hatred, violence, or discrimination aren’t allowed,” the automated email says. “Dr. Seuss Enterprises has stopped publication of this book due to its negative portrayal of some ethnicities. As a courtesy, we have ended your item and refunded your selling fees, and as long as you do not relist the item, there will be no negative impact to your account.”
Well, how many offensive things can you find on eBay? How about “Gentlemen’s magazines,” like Hustler and Penthouse? Sure! Dildos? You bet! But surely they wouldn’t sell Hitler’s Mein Kampf? WRONG; there are plenty of copies of Hitler’s book! Procols of the Elders of Zion? Certainly! What about the issues of Charlie Hebdo, depicting Muhammad, that offended Muslims so deeply?. Yep, they have ’em! It seems that eBay considers it wrong to offend Asians and blacks, but not Jews or Muslims
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 520,028, an increase of about 2,000 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll stands at 2,583,173, an increase of about 9,700 deaths over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on March 5 includes:
- 1496 – King Henry VII of England issues letters patent to John Cabot and his sons, authorising them to explore unknown lands.
- 1616 – Nicolaus Copernicus‘s book On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres is added to the Index of Forbidden Books 73 years after it was first published.
Here’s Copernicus’s heliocentric model in the book’s manuscript. Note the Sun in the center with seven planets around it. The Index Librorum Prohibitorum was finally abolished as church law in 1965.
- 1770 – Boston Massacre: Five Americans, including Crispus Attucks, are fatally shot by British troops in an event that would contribute to the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War (also known as the American War of Independence) five years later.
Crispus Attucks is singled out because he was the first American killed in the Revolutionary War, and also because he wasn’t white, though his exact ethnicity is in doubt. I learned that he was black, but it now seems he was part Native American.
- 1933 – Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party receives 43.9% at the Reichstag elections, which allows the Nazis to later pass the Enabling Act and establish a dictatorship.
- 1946 – Cold War: Winston Churchill coins the phrase “Iron Curtain” in his speech at Westminster College, Missouri.
A video of part of that speech. The mention of the “Iron Curtain” is right at the beginning:
- 1953 – Joseph Stalin, the longest serving leader of the Soviet Union, dies at his Volynskoe dacha in Moscow after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage four days earlier.
He used to be on display next to Lenin in a mausoleum, but now, after his fall in reputation, Stalin is buried in the Kremlin wall, the place marked by just a bust (I don’t see any name on it). Here’s his body laid out after death, followed by a photo of his bust at the Kremlin wall:
How many people did he kill? Between 9 and 20 million if you include famines that he engineered.
- 1963 – American country music stars Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Cowboy Copas and their pilot Randy Hughes are killed in a plane crash in Camden, Tennessee.
- 1974 – Yom Kippur War: Israeli forces withdraw from the west bank of the Suez Canal.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1887 – Heitor Villa-Lobos, Brazilian guitarist and composer (d. 1959)
- 1898 – Zhou Enlai, Chinese politician, 1st Premier of the People’s Republic of China (d. 1976)
- 1938 – Lynn Margulis, American biologist and academic (d. 2011)
- 1958 – Andy Gibb, English-Australian singer-songwriter and actor (d. 1988)
Gibb died of myocarditis at only 30; he had used cocaine for years. Only one of the four Gibb brothers is left now. Here’s a live performance of “Words”:
- 1974 – Eva Mendes, American model and actress
Those who crossed The Great Divide on March 5 include:
Wikipedia needs to change this to “enslaved person”.
- 1827 – Alessandro Volta, Italian physicist and academic (b. 1745)
- 1950 – Edgar Lee Masters, American poet, author, and playwright (b. 1868)
- 1950 – Roman Shukhevych, Ukrainian general and politician (b. 1907)
- 1953 – Herman J. Mankiewicz, American screenwriter and producer (b. 1897)
If you haven’t seen the 2020 movie “Mank,” about Mankiewicz’s collaboration with Orson Welles on the script of Citizen Kane, do so. Here’s the trailer:
- 1953 – Sergei Prokofiev, Russian pianist, composer, and conductor (b. 1891)
- 1953 – Joseph Stalin, Soviet dictator and politician of Georgian descent, 2nd leader of the Soviet Union (b. 1878) See above.
- 1963 – Patsy Cline, American singer-songwriter (b. 1932)
- 1980 – Jay Silverheels, Canadian-American actor (b. 1912)
Silverheels played “Tonto”, the “faithful Indian companion” of the Lone Ranger. And indeed, Silverheels was a genuine Indigenous American, born in Ontario. Here’s the intro and closing of the show; I used to know all these words by heart:
- 2013 – Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan colonel and politician, President of Venezuela (b. 1954)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the editor is looking for one of her staff:
Małgorzata: What are you doing?Hili: I’m hunting Andrzej.
Małgorzata: Co ty robisz?Hili: Poluję na Andrzeja.
Little Kulka went on an adventure down to the Vistula, trotting behind Paulina all the way down the hill to the river.
Caption: An expedition to the river. (Photo: Mariusz R.)
From Facebook. The most interesting thing is that the photographer deliberately sacrificed a good ten cups of cooked rice so they could have this picture:
From Bruce: truefact!
So far today I’ve got a woman fired for claiming that sex is binary, shouted abuse at an old man collecting money for the British Legion, dog-piled people on Twitter for disagreeing with me and burned some books by Dr Seuss.
It’s SO exhausting being on the right side of history.
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) March 4, 2021
Found via a link from Matthew: a giant murmuration of starlings that looks like a bird:
"That looked like a bird!"
Watch the amazing moment a murmuration of starlings took on the shape of a giant bird over Lough Ennell in Co Westmeath. pic.twitter.com/OcmkHIbvBa
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) March 4, 2021
A tweet from Ginger K. Hard to believe this is real!
Just got a new handheld vacuum cleaner and the instruction manual is one of the funniest pieces of writing I’ve ever read.
I want to stress: this is the directions for a handheld vacuum cleaner. pic.twitter.com/6mqY5pI8dd
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) February 28, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. First, a melanic fox! (Click to go to the BBC article to read more.)
— Shahidha Bari 📻 🎙️📚🖌 (@ShahidhaBari) March 4, 2021
I like this one a lot:
— tony husband (@tonyhusband1) March 4, 2021
A beat-up slice:
This cheese salad has seen some shit.
— Paul Bronks (@SlenderSherbet) March 4, 2021
There’s an ocelot baby boom!!!!
Be. Still. My. Heart! An ocelot kitten was photoed on a remote camera in Texas!
According to biologists at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, which sits on the border with Mexico, this kitten joins a recent “baby boom” of ocelots on the refuge over the past two years. pic.twitter.com/BQlBQlTPsf
— Russ McSpadden (@PeccaryNotPig) March 4, 2021
And a dorsoventrally compressed beetle with a good caption:
— Kojun Kanda (@kogent_musings) March 4, 2021