Today there’s an animated Google Doodle (click on screenshot) honoring Masako Katsura (March 7, 1913-1995) a famous woman Japanese billiards player who competed against men and was known as “The First Lady of Billiards”. She specialized in the three-cushion game, shown in the animation.
“Men want to beat me. I play men, six, seven hours a day. Men… they do not beat me.” — Masako “Katsy” Katsura,
Here’s a video about the career of Katsy, with photos and video:
News of the Day:
The good news is that the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill passed the Senate, but narrowly: 50-49, with all Democrats voting for the proposal and one Republican absent (Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska, who had a family emergency). But even had Sullivan been there and voted “no”, Kamala Harris would have broken the tie in favor of the bill. The provisions include these:
It would inject vast amounts of federal resources into the economy, including one-time direct payments of up to $1,400 for hundreds of millions of Americans, jobless aid of $300 a week to last through the summer, money for distributing coronavirus vaccines and relief for states, cities, schools and small businesses struggling during the pandemic.
It also expands tax credits for children. What happens now is that the bill goes back to the House of Representatives so that both chambers agree on a final bill, and after that reconciliation the bill goes to Biden’s desk for signature. If you’re getting a check, and you’re within the income limits, it should go out this month. This is both a major accomplishment for Biden and also an abandonment of his desire to be “bipartisan”—something that wasn’t realistic anyway. And it’s a good start at giving a hand up to Americans who are in poverty or not far from it.
Below: one of many reasons I hate HuffPost. Although the news they’re conveying is good, they have to tell you that it’s HUGE! and also put a smiley face in the headline to show you how you’re supposed to feel. Even high-school newspapers don’t put emoticons in the news, for crying out loud.
Religion poisons everything department: All over the news, and hailed as an example of interfaith harmony, is Pope Francis’s visit to Iraq and his meeting with the highest Shi’ite ayatollah (photo below). The thing is, if there were no religion, there wouldn’t be a reason for Iraq to have persecuted its Christian minority (and gays and women, etc. etc.) for decades. There would be no need for interfaith harmony because there would be no faiths.
Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter, is actually auctioning off the very first tweet (his own) to appear on that site, and bidding has reached $2.5 million! The expensive tweet:
“Just setting up my twttr,” the post, sent from Mr Dorsey’s account in March 2006, reads.
It’s still up! Here it is:
just setting up my twttr
— jack (@jack) March 21, 2006
Now how can you auction off a tweet?, you ask. The BBC says this:
It will be sold as a non-fungible token (NFT) – a unique digital certificate that states who owns a photo, video or other form of online media.
But the post will remain publicly available on Twitter even after it has been auctioned off.
The buyer will receive a certificate, digitally signed and verified by Mr Dorsey, as well as the metadata of the original tweet. The data will include information such as the time the tweet was posted and its text contents.
What chowderhead would pay $2.5 million for that? (h/t Jez)
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 523,970, an increase of about 1,500 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll stands at 2,601,164, 2,593,526, an increase of about 7j,600 deaths over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on March 7 includes:
- 161 – Marcus Aurelius and L. Commodus (who changes his name to Lucius Verus) become joint emperors of Rome on the death of Antoninus Pius.
- 1850 – Senator Daniel Webster gives his “Seventh of March” speech endorsing the Compromise of 1850 in order to prevent a possible civil war.
- 1876 – Alexander Graham Bell is granted a patent for an invention he calls the “telephone“.
Here’s one bit of the patent:
- 1936 – Prelude to World War II: In violation of the Locarno Pact and the Treaty of Versailles, Germany reoccupies the Rhineland.
- 1945 – World War II: American troops seize the Ludendorff Bridge over the Rhine river at Remagen.
The Germans tried mightily to destroy the bridge, which enabled the Allies to establish over 100,000 men on the Eastern side of the Rhine. German artillery finally succeeded in bringing it down, but pontoon bridges were erected to complete the crossing. Here’s a photo of that famous bridge, with the Wikipedia caption,
A side view of the Remagen Bridge in March 1945 before it collapsed into the Rhine. Claude Musgrove took this picture of the famous Ludendorff Bridge over the Rhine River at Remagen, Germany. The smoke under and behind the bridge is from German artillery rounds trying to destroy the miraculously surviving link that let Allied forces cross the river.
“The Bridge at Remagen” was a 1969 movie starring George Segal, Ben Gazzara and Robert Vaughn.
- 1965 – Bloody Sunday: A group of 600 civil rights marchers is brutally attacked by state and local police in Selma, Alabama.
Watch this excellent video.
- 1986 – Challenger Disaster: Divers from the USS Preserver locate the crew cabin of Challenger on the ocean floor.
All the remains were discovered. It’s still not clear whether any of the crew remained conscious for the nearly 3-minute fall to the ocean. Here’s the live CNN video; I was watching at the time:
- 1989 – Iran and the United Kingdom break diplomatic relations after a fight over Salman Rushdie and his controversial novel, The Satanic Verses.
- 2007 – The British House of Commons votes to make the upper chamber, the House of Lords, 100% elected.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1788 – Antoine César Becquerel, French physicist and biochemist (d. 1878)
- 1792 – John Herschel, English mathematician and astronomer (d. 1871)
- 1849 – Luther Burbank, American botanist and author (d. 1926)
- 1857 – Julius Wagner-Jauregg, Austrian physician and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1940)
Wagner-Jauregg got the prize for one of the discoveries that ultimately didn’t pan out: “”for his discovery of the therapeutic value of malaria inoculation in the treatment of dementia paralytica“. This is a form of dementia caused by syphillis, and is now cured with antibiotics. I’m not sure how well it worked back then, but the malaria killed 15% of the patients (dementia paralytica, however, was invariably fatal, and is what killed Theo van Gogh).
- 1872 – Piet Mondrian, Dutch-American painter (d. 1944)
- 1904 – Reinhard Heydrich, German SS officer (d. 1942)
Heydrich (below) was assassinated by the Czech army in exile, but the Nazis took revenge by destroying two Czech villages, Lidice and Ležáky, shooting every male over 16 and sending everybody else to concentration camps, where they died. The villages had nothing to do with Heydrich’s killing, and this is one of the most brutal actions against civilians during the war.
- 1908 – Anna Magnani, Italian actress (d. 1973)
Magnani, a terrific actor, won the Best Actress Oscar in 1956 for her role in the movie The Rose Tattoo, which Tennessee Williams wrote especially for her. Here’s a clip:
- 1938 – David Baltimore, American biologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate
- 1964 – Bret Easton Ellis, American author and screenwriter
- 1970 – Rachel Weisz, English-American actress and producer
Weisz also won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in the movie “The Constant Gardner“. It also starred Ralph Fiennes; here’s the trailer:
Those who expired on March 7 include:
- 1274 – Saint Thomas Aquinas, Italian priest and philosopher (b. 1225)
- 1957 – Wyndham Lewis, English painter and critic (b. 1882)
- 1967 – Alice B. Toklas, American writer (b. 1877)
- 1988 – Divine, American drag queen and film actor (b. 1945)
- 1999 – Stanley Kubrick, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1928)
- 2006 – Gordon Parks, American photographer, director, and composer (b. 1912)
Parks became famous for photographic documentation of African-American life in Chicago; in fact, part of the University of Chicago’s Laboratory School is named the “Gordon Parks Arts Hall“. I walk by it on my way to and from work. Here’s one of his photos:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is brusque:
A: I have a problem.Hili: So solve it.
Ja: Mam problem.Hili: Rozwiąż go.
And little Kulka, now a teenager, is up in the trees again. (Photo by Paulina)
From Jesus of the Day:
Also from Facebook:
Columbia University is having a big graduation ceremony but then all the ethnic groups split off for another mini-ceremony. Two points. Where is the “Jewish graduation”? Are we not oppressed, too? And why are they lumping low income students with first generation students? What is the commonality there? There is no end to this kind of fractionation.
I found this pretty surprising — that Columbia is hosting separate graduation ceremonies by race and sexual orientation — but when I mentioned this to a friend, he was like "NBD, this happened at my school a decade ago…" https://t.co/4gNnGmt0TD… pic.twitter.com/hFks2twBpn
— Wesley Yang (@wesyang) March 5, 2021
From Barry Look at this needy cat!
Clingy kitter pic.twitter.com/EVueScf4Aj
— iT'S ALL NATURE'S (@itsnaturesworld) March 4, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. I wish my ducks would eat greens!
— 鴨㌠ テケ＆チハ (@Kamo_centime) March 5, 2021
A prize-winning wasp photo. My translation: “This photo of two wasps approaching their nest holes won the prize in the category Animal Behavior: Invertebrates. Deschandol captured the moment in the vicinity of his house by by installing an infrared trigger.” #PictureOfTheDay#BildDesTages“
Das Foto von zwei Wespen im Anflug auf ihre Nistlöcher gewann den Preis in der Kategorie „Tierverhalten: Wirbellose“. Deschandol hielt den Moment in der Nähe seines Zuhauses fest, indem er einen Infrarotauslöser installierte. #PictureOfTheDay #BildDesTages
— National Geographic (@NatGeoDE) January 12, 2021
Well . . . .
When your mum took you to the doctor's & she would chat shite with anyone pic.twitter.com/58HtLn1m7S
— joe heenan (@joeheenan) March 6, 2021
Soon, I hope, we’ll see real video from Perseverance instead of concatenated images. Here’s a faux video from the 33-minute test of the rover two days ago:
— Roman Tkachenko (@_RomanTkachenko) March 5, 2021
A science/linguistics joke tweeted by Matthew:
A student sent me this joke:
Q. What do Americans call CRISPR?
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) March 5, 2021
Science burn! A Nature paper describing feather lice captured in amber apparently feeding on dinosaur feathers was apparently incorrect. David Grimaldi and Isabelle Via showed that in all probability they weren’t parasites but scale insects, probably trapped in amber while feeding on the tree (their rebuttal paper is here).
Remember the insect parasite feeding on dinosaur feathers? This is our response to the original article that was published today in @NatureComms. Insects described as lice-like parasite feeding on dino feathers are scale insect juveniles. @EntsocAmerica
— Dr Isabelle Vea 鄭美鳳 (@thecochenille) March 5, 2021