Good morning on Tuesday, March 9, 2021: National Crab Day. It’s also National Meatball Day, Barbie Day (celebrating the day in 1959 when the doll had her debut at New York’s Toy Fair), and Organize Your Home Office Day. I am dispirited this morning, so posting may be light. We might have a joke thread later for cheering-up purposes, so start thinking of your favorite joke.
Let’s celebrate Barbie Day with Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” song, which I used to hate but now find quite bouncy. Aqua was a Danish-Norwegian group (I thought they were Australian until I just looked them up), and the song was a huge hit in Europe, topping the UK charts for four weeks in a row.
Wine of the Day:
The name of this luscious Washington State Syrah comes from the owner’s cat, named Motor City Kitty, or “MCK”. Syrah is, of course, the premier grape of the Rhone, the area that produces, to my mind, the world’s best red wines. A good Rhone smells to me like fruit AND black olives. This Syrah has the fruit, but the black olive flavor was replaced by a toasty aroma that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but reminded me a bit of Melba toast.
This was an excellent wine, with at least five years of further improvement. I’m on a lucky streak, as I haven’t had a bad wine for a long while. That’s because I’m drinking my higher-class wines as a reward for living through the pandemic. I had this with another treat: t-bone steak cooked rare (the only way to eat a steak), with a crusty baguette and a bowl of fresh green beans.
News of the Day:
Remember Samuel Paty, the French teacher who was stabbed and beheaded last October after showing his students cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad taken from Charlie Hebdo? (Remember, too, that he allowed the students to leave the room or not look if they would be offended. That wasn’t enough to save him.) The perpetrator was killed by police, and the incident sparked a vigorous debate in France about secularization. Now, in a very sad denouement, the girl whose complaints launched the online campaign against Paty has admitted that she wasn’t even in the class. From the BBC:
The 13-year-old girl, who has not been named, originally told her father that Paty had asked Muslim students to leave the classroom while he showed the cartoon during a class on free speech and blasphemy.
“She lied because she felt trapped in a spiral because her classmates had asked her to be a spokesperson,” her lawyer, Mbeko Tabula, told the AFP news agency.
The girl’s father filed a legal complaint against the teacher and began an online hate campaign over the incident.
Prosecutors said shortly after the killing that there was a “direct causal link” between the online incitement against Paty and his murder.
Heresy watch: the NYT has an article about how California is now making better bagels than is New York City. Well, that may be true, but they’re still not real bagels. You can tell because of the description:
The bread has a comforting squish — thick but yielding, chewy but not densely so, with a shiny, sweet-and-salty crust and a rich, malty breath that fills up the bag before you even get home.
Let us be clear here: real bagels are not “soft and pudgy,” nor do they have a “comforting squish”. They are dense and chewy. Period.
You can even see their ersatz nature from the photo accompanying the article. Yep, golden roly polys, probably full of air:
The Brits are appalled at Meghan Markle and Harry’s interview with Oprah last night, for the pair recounted some ill treatment by the Firm, including one conversation that supposedly involved speculation about the baby’s skin color. (The news last night said the party in that discussion was not the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, or Prince William.) Markle also said she had suicidal thoughts. I don’t know whose side to take in this kerfuffle, but frankly, I don’t care. I’ve always said that Britain should abolish the royalty, but few of my UK friends, including the liberal ones, take my side in this.
Here’s part of the interview:
Glory be! The CDC has declared that fully vaccinated people can gather with other vaccinated people without wearing a mask, a policy that surely makes sense. We still don’t know if vaccinated people can carry or spread the virus, but my gut tells me “no.” Still, I’m not a doctor (I just play one in the lab), so don’t take my speculations seriously!
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 535,467, an increase of only 800 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll stands at 2,613,407, an increase of about 6,800 deaths over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on March 9 includes:
- 1500 – The fleet of Pedro Álvares Cabral leaves Lisbon for the Indies. The fleet will discover Brazil which lies within boundaries granted to Portugal in the Treaty of Tordesillas.
- 1776 – The Wealth of Nations by Scottish economist and philosopher Adam Smith is published.
A first edition of this puppy will cost you $400,000 or so—more than a first edition of Darwin’s Origin. Here’s the edition ofSmith’s book:
Although this is reputed to have been a grand love affair, Napoleon ditched Josephine when he learned she could not provide him with an heir. Here’s a quote and a painting:
In 1795, she met Napoleon Bonaparte, six years her junior, and became his mistress. In a letter to her in December, he wrote, “I awake full of you. Your image and the memory of last night’s intoxicating pleasures has left no rest to my senses.” In January 1796, Napoleon Bonaparte proposed to her and they were married on 9 March.
- 1841 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules in the United States v. The Amistad case that captive Africans who had seized control of the ship carrying them had been taken into slavery illegally.
- 1862 – American Civil War: USS Monitor and CSS Virginia fight to a draw in the Battle of Hampton Roads, the first battle between two ironclad warships.
- 1916 – Mexican Revolution: Pancho Villa leads nearly 500 Mexican raiders in an attack against the border town of Columbus, New Mexico.
Here’s Pancho on horseback in a photo taken sometime between 1908 and 1919. He was assassinated in 1923 in his car, hit in the head and chest by nine dumdum bullets.
- 1933 – Great Depression: President Franklin D. Roosevelt submits the Emergency Banking Act to Congress, the first of his New Deal policies.
- 1946 – Bolton Wanderers stadium disaster at Burnden Park, Bolton, England, kills 33 and injures hundreds more.
- 1954 – McCarthyism: CBS television broadcasts the See It Now episode, “A Report on Senator Joseph McCarthy“, produced by Fred Friendly.
Here’s that famous episode in its entirety, which spelled the beginning of the end for Joe:
Here’s that first Barbie doll:
- 1960 – Dr. Belding Hibbard Scribner implants for the first time a shunt he invented into a patient, which allows the patient to receive hemodialysis on a regular basis.
- 1997 – The Notorious B.I.G. is murdered in Los Angeles after attending the Soul Train Music Awards. He is gunned down leaving an after party at the Petersen Automotive Museum. His murder remains unsolved.
- 2011 – Space Shuttle Discovery makes its final landing after 39 flights.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1454 – Amerigo Vespucci, Italian cartographer and explorer (d. 1512)
This man should be canceled as his name gave rise to the name “America”.
- 1892 – Vita Sackville-West, English author, poet, and gardener (d. 1962)
Here she (right) is with her paramour Virginia Woolf. For some reason I’m fascinated with the “Bloomsbury group”, though I probably would have round them a bunch of twits:
- 1918 – George Lincoln Rockwell, American sailor and politician, founded the American Nazi Party (d. 1967)
- 1943 – Bobby Fischer, American chess player and author (d. 2008)
- 1954 – Bobby Sands, PIRA volunteer; Irish republican politician (d. 1981)
- 1964 – Juliette Binoche, French actress
A great actor and a favorite of mine. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in “The English Patient”, but I also liked her performances in “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” and the underrated movie “Certified Copy”, which is a very odd movie that is a must-see:
Those became extinct on March 9 include:
- 1661 – Cardinal Mazarin, Italian-French academic and politician, Prime Minister of France (b. 1602)
- 1847 – Mary Anning, English paleontologist (b. 1799)
Anning, played by Kate Winslet, is the subject of the newish movie “Ammonite,” which is good but not great. Here’s a a painting of her equipped for fossil collecting (with a superfluous d*g), painted in 1842, perhaps from life. She is pointing at a fossil, not at the d*g.
- 1895 – Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Austrian journalist and author (b. 1836)
- 1983 – Ulf von Euler, Swedish physiologist and pharmacologist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1905)
- 1997 – The Notorious B.I.G., American rapper, songwriter, and actor (b. 1972)
- 2006 – John Profumo, English soldier and politician, Secretary of State for War (b. 1915)
I remember the “Profumo Affair” (961-1963), in which the Secretary of State for War was involved with model and showgirl Christine Keeler, who also had an affair with the Russian naval attaché. Profumo was forced to resign, and this led to the resignation of PM Harold Macmillan and the installation of a Labour government. Here’s Keeler in the very famous portrait by photographer Lewis Morley, a picture that spawned a thousand imitators. The chair in this picture is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum:
The chair in the V&A Musem with the Museum’s notes:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Malgorzata explains today’s dialogue: “Hili is behind a curtain and she has one paw high in the air, like a child who knows the answer to the teacher’s question.”
A: Who is going to the kitchen?Hili: I am!
Ja: Kto idzie do kuchni?Hili: Ja!
From Facebook. I wonder if this is real (and they posted the phone number).
Also from Facebook:
A tweet sent by Barry from Richard Dawkins. He liked it but I’m not so sure, for “science” is the practice of science, while “science’s truths” are the preexisting things about the cosmos that we try to find out with the practice.
Science is not a social construct. Science’s truths were true before there were societies; will still be true after all philosophers are dead; were true before any philosophers were born; were true before there were any minds, even trilobite or dinosaur minds, to notice them.
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) March 6, 2021
From Simon: Another photo turned into an academic meme:
Please find attached a short Biosketch pic.twitter.com/82mgnK9U9y
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) March 3, 2021
From Luana, who found this in response to my query about what the weird term “black bodies” came from as a replacement for “black people”. Here are a few replies:
What I dislike about "black bodies" is that despite the fact that it's meant to be part of an emancipatory discourse, it's dehumanizing. Those obsessing over black bodies are usually the same ones obsessing over white minds, their biases, etc. Whites get minds, blacks get bodies.
— Free Black Thought (@FreeBlckThought) March 3, 2021
Start w Michele Foucault. If not the first, he certainly did a lot to popularize the idea that people (of any color) are “docile bodies” subjected to power structures, which are in turn enforced linguistically. Clearly, this diminishes agency. That was his point.
— Cuentacuentos Mezcal (@CCMezcal) March 3, 2021
In "Between the World and Me," Ta-Nehisi Coates worries the term "black bodies" repeatedly. I suspect that he helped jumpstart what now feels like an outpouring. https://t.co/9knjJZKYo8
— Adam Gussow (@AdamGussow) March 3, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. The first is my pet peeve: the evening news and programs all geared toward a very old demographic, with virtually all the ads for drugs. I guess they don’t advertise drugs on British stations.
british people reacting to american pharmaceutical ads during the harry/meghan interview
— Ayesha A. Siddiqi (@AyeshaASiddiqi) March 8, 2021
— Ayesha A. Siddiqi (@AyeshaASiddiqi) March 8, 2021
Guy rescues and raises gosling; ineffably sweet. Sound up.
Guy rescues a tiny gosling who wants to do everything he's doing — watch him show her how to fly 💜 pic.twitter.com/YK3sVF4Rvx
— The Dodo (@dodo) March 7, 2021
The apotheosis of camouflage:
This stick insect's camouflage is so succesful a mantis laid eggs on it. pic.twitter.com/jgipRr3qaG
— Naufal Urfi (@aranearaneae) March 1, 2021
And this is also very touching:
A Holocaust survivor Francis Sacks received the COVID-19 vaccine from a very special doctor: her granddaughter.
“She gave my dad life and then he gave me life and now I’m helping her to survive. That’s not lost on me.”https://t.co/bQaWDKMyxQ
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) March 7, 2021