Good morning on the Sabbath for Jewish cats: Saturday, March 6, 2021. Here’s a landskat to get it started right (h/t: Matthew). I’m not sure, though, that cats are allowed to play on the Sabbath; I think they’re supposed to rest and study the Talmud.
Shabbat Shalom! Gut Shabbes!
Wishing you much rest, rejuvenation, and meaningful experience.
Biggie wishes you much play time. pic.twitter.com/g7PAJ38Cxa
— Alex (@JewishWonk) March 5, 2021
It’s National Oreo Day (I have a “family pack” of mint Oreos I bought two weeks ago, and polished off seven last night (with a glass of milk) to celebrate finally finishing Kendi’s book on antiracism. I once got a bag of matcha (powdered green tea) Oreos, which I believe are sold only in Japan, and they were surprisingly toothsome:
It’s also National Frozen Food Day, National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day (forget about that; there are only two varieties of cheesecake that are acceptable: plain and with cherries), and, as a complement to the cheesecake, it’s National Dentist’s Day, with the apostrophe implying that only a single dentist is being celebrated. Finally, it’s European Day of the Righteous, commemorating “those who have stood up against crimes against humanity and totalitarism with their own moral responsibility.”
Wine of the Day: I don’t often drink Barolos, as they’re pricey, but I treated myself last night when I made some bucattini pasta with red sauce and vegetables, and decided to pair it with an Italian red. This was an excellent specimen of “the king of Italian wines” (is that sexist?). I put it upright for a week beforehand as I knew it had sediment, decanted it carefully, and let it sit open for an hour before drinking.
This is a wine with guts, perhaps better suited to a steak than to pasta. It shows no sign of aging, and smells powerfully of blackcurrants and (amazingly) roses! I’m drinking my second large glass at this moment, and it’s getting better and better. I have only a few Barolos among my wines, and I look forward to comparing this big boy with others. Rating: 8.7724/10.
News of the Day:
The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is now being injected in to Americans, and I think one in six of us has received at least one shot. In fact, with the J&J jab all you need is one shot, which makes it appealing to many. And it’s as efficacious as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at keeping people out of the hospital and alive. There is, however, a difference in efficacy (95% vs. about a 72% reduction in infection likelihood), and I suppose if one had a choice, and didn’t mind two shots, you’d go for the two-jab rather than the J&J shots. But few people have that choice, and Fauci’s advice to take what you’re offered is good.
What bothers me is that if we DID have a choice, I’d take Pfizer or Moderna because of their higher efficacy, regardless of Fauci’s statement that the trials were done on different populations. Fauci’s interest differs from ours: his is getting herd immunity as fast as possible, while ours is both our own health and the health of the country as a whole. There’s some conflict here, and I’d feel better if at least someone admitted that.
Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Az) is a centrist Democrat, but also something of a showoff. On the vote about minimum wages in the Senate yesterday, she had to make a big show of “thumbs down.” It’s not only immature, but a poke in the eye at her many constituents who could use a higher wage. (She was also carrying a cake, though it’s not certain it was a Marie Antoinette move.) Here’s her vote:
There’s an interesting op-ed in the NYT called “The Empty Religions of Instagram“, about how “influencers” like Glennon Doyle are the replacement for televangelists, offering us unsatisfying cures for our Weltschmerz. I thought “Yeah! You go!” until I read the last two paragraphs from author Leigh Stein:
There is a chasm between the vast scope of our needs and what influencers can provide. We’re looking for guidance in the wrong places. Instead of helping us to engage with our most important questions, our screens might be distracting us from them. Maybe we actually need to go to something like church?
Contrary to what you might have seen on Instagram, our purpose is not to optimize our one wild and precious life. It’s time to search for meaning beyond the electric church that keeps us addicted to our phones and alienated from our closest kin.
She wants us to go back to God, for crying out loud!
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 522,511, an increase of about 2,500 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll stands at 2,593,526, an increase of about 10,400 deaths over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on March 6 includes:
- 632 – The Farewell Sermon (Khutbah, Khutbatul Wada’) of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
- 845 – The 42 Martyrs of Amorium are killed after refusing to convert to Islam.
- 1665 – The first joint Secretary of the Royal Society, Henry Oldenburg, publishes the first issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, the world’s longest-running scientific journal.
- 1788 – The First Fleet arrives at Norfolk Island in order to found a convict settlement.
- 1834 – York, Upper Canada, is incorporated as Toronto.
- 1857 – The Supreme Court of the United States rules 7-2 in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case that the Constitution does not confer citizenship on black people.
Although Scott (who was enslaved) lost, he was manumitted. Sadly, his freedom lasted only a year, as he died of tuberculosis in 1858:
Here’s that first table, with the caption from Wikipedia:
- 1899 – Bayer registers “Aspirin” as a trademark.
- 1933 – Great Depression: President Franklin D. Roosevelt declares a “bank holiday”, closing all U.S. banks and freezing all financial transactions.
- 1943 – Norman Rockwell published Freedom from Want in The Saturday Evening Post with a matching essay by Carlos Bulosan as part of the Four Freedoms series.
I saw this painting for real in Stockbridge, MA at the Rockwell studio and museum, and studied it carefully, especially the food. It depicts Thanksgiving, of course, with Mom serving up a monster turkey. But the rest of the table is surprisingly bare. Note the dish of celery, once considered a rare treat (oy!):
There have been many memes of that painting, of course. Here’s one:
- 1951 – Cold War: The trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg begins.
- 1953 – Georgy Malenkov succeeds Joseph Stalin as Premier of the Soviet Union and First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
- 1964 – Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad officially gives boxing champion Cassius Clay the name Muhammad Ali.
Here’s Ali and Malcolm X in a rare video.
- 1967 – Cold War: Joseph Stalin’s daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva defects to the United States.
- 1975 – For the first time the Zapruder film of the assassination of John F. Kennedy is shown in motion to a national TV audience by Robert J. Groden and Dick Gregory.
The film is sad a gruesome, showing first the shot through Kennedy’s neck and then his head exploding as the second shot strikes. I won’t embed it here, but you can watch it by clicking here.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1340 – John of Gaunt (d. 1399)
- 1619 – Cyrano de Bergerac, French author and playwright (d. 1655)
- 1885 – Ring Lardner, American journalist and author (d. 1933)
- 1906 – Lou Costello, American actor and comedian (d. 1959)
- 1926 – Alan Greenspan, American economist and politician
- 1927 – Gabriel García Márquez, Colombian journalist and author, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2014)
- 1944 – Kiri Te Kanawa, New Zealand soprano and actress
As I’ve said many times, Dame Kiri is one of my favorite classical singers. Here she is singing what is perhaps the most famous of all operatic arias (you hear it in the movies all the time). This performance is from 1990 on the BBC.
- 1953 – Carolyn Porco, American astronomer and academic
Like me, Carolyn is a huge Beatles fan. Here she is in London with her team, reenacting the cover of “Abbey Road”:
She also likes Michael Jackson, and won a contest for both impersonating and dancing like Jackson; here’s a picture from Facebook:
- 1967 – Glenn Greenwald, American journalist and author
- 1972 – Shaquille O’Neal, American basketball player, actor, and rapper
Those who were no more on March 6 include:
- 1836 – Deaths at the Battle of the Alamo:
- James Bonham, American lawyer and soldier (b. 1807)
- James Bowie, American colonel (b. 1796)
- Davy Crockett, American soldier and politician (b. 1786)
- 1888 – Louisa May Alcott, American novelist and poet (b. 1832)
Here’s the author of Little Women at 20:
- 1932 – John Philip Sousa, American conductor and composer (b. 1854)
- 1935 – Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., American colonel, lawyer, and jurist (b. 1841)
- 1973 – Pearl S. Buck, American novelist, essayist, short story writer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1892)
- 1982 – Ayn Rand, Russian-American philosopher, author, and playwright (b. 1905)
- 1986 – Georgia O’Keeffe, American painter (b. 1887)
O’Keeffee liked both cats and d*gs; here she is with a kitten. (It’s curious, but I think that artists who own cats tend to favor Siamese ones.)
- 2005 – Hans Bethe, German-American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1906)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej and Malgorzata explain today’s Hili:
“Andrzej says that we live in times similar to the past. And Hili, knowing history, is terrified. (The English exclamation ‘OMG’ is also used in Poland.) She doesn’t want the horrors of history to return.”
A: History repeats itself.Hili: OMG.
Ja: Historia się powtarza.Hili: OMG
Kulka is sitting on the windowsill outside; she wants in!
A tweet from Merilee:
Well, at least she's on board with evolution https://t.co/MJRI0sXftw
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) March 4, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. First, Wisdom’s latest chick has hatched, and this Laysan albatross is at least 70! No menopause in that tough bird (or any other animal save humans, pilot whales, beluga whales, narwhals and orcas).
🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍
Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, banded wild bird is at least 70 years old. Biologists estimate she has had at least 30-36 chicks. https://t.co/cjM8X2clme
📸-Jon Brack/Friends of Midway Atoll NWR pic.twitter.com/voK0kO27ed
— USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWSPacific) February 5, 2021
The color develops quite quickly, though I regret that they had to sacrifice a butterfly to make this video.
— Aaron Pomerantz (@AaronPomerantz) March 26, 2017
This is probably the first photography contest won by an invertebrate, much less an animal:
— Christopher Mah (@echinoblog) March 4, 2021
Another remarkable case of mimicry. Google translation: “From the moment I started to observe and study animals, I would never have imagined that I would encounter so many different animals. And it was the case of this incredible saw-wood beetle of the species Sphecomorpha murina that perfectly mimics a Polistinae wasp.”
Desde o momento que comecei a observar e estudar os animais, eu jamais imaginaria que iria encontrar tantos bichos diferentes. E foi o caso desse incrível besouro serra-pau da espécie Sphecomorpha murina que mimetiza uma vespa Polistinae de uma forma perfeita.@ObsNaturalistas pic.twitter.com/U3IKDjG6l8
— Augustin (@Guii_August0) December 20, 2020
Here’s a thread with many annoying architectural errors. The last one is unbelievable.
— Mia “Bojan BogDUNKovic” Lastname (@themiasandrist) February 26, 2021
Oh, you want more? pic.twitter.com/FTdYgNeSSA
— Mia “Bojan BogDUNKovic” Lastname (@themiasandrist) February 26, 2021
A lovely pair of photos. Read further in the thread to find out what was happening (I alluded to the event the other day):
Half the solar arrays appear to be missing at first glance. That's because despite being in a configuration requiring them to be face on towards Earth (also the direction of the sun) half of the arrays are seen edge-on. So why Is this happening? pic.twitter.com/xH0eelsHM1
— Andrew McCarthy (@AJamesMcCarthy) February 28, 2021