Good morning on Thursday, March 11, 2021: National “Eat Your Noodles” Day. (Once again, why the scare quotes? Are we supposed to only pretend that we eat noodles?). It’s also Oatmeal Nut Waffles Day (?), Popcorn Lovers Day, Johnny Appleseed Day (he may have died on March 11, 1845, but it’s unclear), Worship of Tools Day, World Plumbing Day, and World Kidney Day.
Here’s my lovely Adenium obesum, a wild flowering plant originally from Subsaharan Africa and Arabia. It’s flowering now. It’s sometimes called the “desert rose” or “bottle tree.” Its roots and stems produce a sap containing toxic cardiac glycosides, which can be used to make poison arrows.
Here’s what it aspires to be (in the wild on Socotra Island, described in Wikipedia as the “weirdest looking place on Earth”):
News of the Day:
The good news is that the Covid relief bill passed the House, and is on its way to Biden’s desk; signing is expected on Friday. It’s Uncle Joe’s first big victory, and was done without the help of Republicans, with the 220-211 vote including no Republicans on the “aye” side and one Democrat, Jared Golden of Maine, joining the Republican “nays”.
The other good news is that Merrick Garland was confirmed by the Senate as attorney general, though he really should be on the Supreme Court. He’ll be a good AG, though The vote was 70-30, with all 30 nays being, of course, Republicans.
The New York Times has an interesting article on what some scholars think are the earliest fragments of the Hebrew Bible: written even before Deuteronomy. They were exhibited in 1883, pronounced a fraud, and the owner committed suicide. Now a scholar has revived the idea that these are indeed the earliest Biblical bits we have. The sad part is that after the fragments were pronounced a forgery, they were sold for a “pittance” and have now disappeared. We’ll never be able to settle the issue without those fragments. A bit of carbon-dating, now impossible, would go a long way.
Lots of employers are demanding that their employees get vaccinated against Covid. That requirement is a legal one, but is a bit murky as the law refers to FDA-approved vaccines while all Covid vaccines in the US are approved by the FDA for “emergency use” only. 23 states have brought or are contemplating bills prohibiting companies and businesses from requiring vaccination, nearly all the bills sponsored by Republicans. However, the Pew Trust thinks these prohibitions are likely to fail:
Yet despite lobbying from anti-vaccine groups, often known as anti-vaxxers, the employer mandate bills are unlikely to pass, experts say. That’s because the proposals threaten employers’ legal obligation to maintain a safe workplace and could put the lives of workers, customers and patients at risk.
Federal guidance issued in December allows employers to require that their workers get COVID-19 vaccines, although they must accommodate employees’ religious objections and also make sure vaccine requirements don’t discriminate against employees with disabilities.
HuffPost is still using emoticons to tell us how we should feel, as well as adjectives to tell us how important a story is. No wonder it’s circling the drain (see one of the tweets below). I’m surprised they didn’t say “AWESOME” instead of “HUGE”.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 528,829, an increase of about 1,500 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll stands at 2,633,819, an increase of about 10,000 deaths over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on March 11 includes:
- 1702 – The Daily Courant, England’s first national daily newspaper, is published for the first time.
And here is the front page of the first issue of The Daily Courant:
- 1708 – Queen Anne withholds Royal Assent from the Scottish Militia Bill, the last time a British monarch vetoes legislation.
- 1851 – The first performance of Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi takes place in Venice.
- 1861 – American Civil War: The Constitution of the Confederate States of America is adopted.
- 1888 – The Great Blizzard of 1888 begins along the eastern seaboard of the United States, shutting down commerce and killing more than 400.
Some snowdrifts were 50 feet high! Here’s a photo with the caption: A snowdrift tunnel in Farmington, Connecticut, with six feet of headroom. (New York Historical Society.)
- 1946 – Rudolf Höss, the first commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp, is captured by British troops.
Höss was executed on April 16, 1947 after capture (he’d hidden out for a year) and a trial. And here are three unsavory characters, in order from left to right: Commander of Auschwitz I Richard Baer, Auschwitz chief medical officer Josef Mengele and Höss, 1944.
- 1985 – Mikhail Gorbachev is elected to the position of General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union making Gorbachev the USSR’s de facto, and last, head of state.
- 2004 – Madrid train bombings: Simultaneous explosions on rush hour trains in Madrid, Spain, kill 191 people.
- 2020 – The World Health Organization (WHO) declares COVID-19 virus a pandemic.
Note that they say exactly the same thing for March 10—as I said yesterday. Which day is the anniversary of that declaration?
Notables born on this day include:
- 1898 – Dorothy Gish, American actress (d. 1968)
- 1903 – Lawrence Welk, American accordion player and bandleader (d. 1992)
If you remember Welk, you’ll remember his German accent, though he was born in the U.S.—but in a community that spoke German: Strasburg, North Dakota. Here he is! (I think “square” is the operant word):
- 1926 – Ralph Abernathy, American minister and activist (d. 1990)
- 1931 – Rupert Murdoch, Australian-American businessman and media magnate
- 1951 – Dominique Sanda, French model and actress
- 1952 – Douglas Adams, English author and playwright (d. 2001)
- 1963 – Alex Kingston, English actress
Those who handed in their lunch pails on March 11 include:
- 1820 – Benjamin West, American-English painter and academic (b. 1738)
- 1955 – Alexander Fleming, Scottish biologist, pharmacologist, and botanist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1881)
Fleming received the Nobel Prize with Howard Florey and Ernst Chain for his discovery and identification of penicillin. Here are three pictures of Fleming and related matters (captions from Wikipedia):
(I happen to be allergic to penicillin.) “Ask your doctor!”:
Good luck finding a photo of Oscar. When you Google “photo of Oscar Mayer,” you get this.
- 1957 – Richard E. Byrd, American admiral and explorer (b. 1888)
- 1960 – Roy Chapman Andrews, American paleontologist and explorer (b. 1884)
- 1970 – Erle Stanley Gardner, American lawyer and author (b. 1889)
- 2006 – Slobodan Milošević, Serbian lawyer and politician, 3rd President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (b. 1941)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej is making Hili anxious, as she’s been celebrating the departure of cold weather:
Hili: At last one can start to work in the garden.A: We have to do something as long as the weather is nice, but the winter can return.HilI: Don’t scare me.
Hili: Nareszcie można zabrać się za pracę w ogrodzie.Ja: Trzeba korzystać z ładnej pogody, bo zima może jeszcze wrócić.Hili: Nie strasz.
Caption: Talking about winter—the snow is already here.
Szaron awaits the arrival of Spring:
From Jesus of the Day:
From Nicole: a patient cat and a kindly grandmother:
From Titania. I have to say that I don’t fully buy Markle’s claim about the color of her baby, as I think she’s desperate to remain in the public eye. They will neither name the perp nor even say what he/she said, but here’s Titania’s guess. Who is this white demon?
Meghan is refusing to name the racist member of the royal family.
I think we all know…
Let’s cancel this monster. pic.twitter.com/5UYSVOD9Op
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) March 10, 2021
A tweet that came via Simon. Though I feel sorry for those who were laid off in this cruel way, I can’t say I’m unhappy that HuffPost is circling the drain. And with all their virtue signaling, this is an extraordinarily unempathic way to fire employees. This mass booting is probably connected with HuffPost’s recent acquisition by BuzzFeed, which should make for even more dire reporting. PuffHo lost $20 million last year, and was scheduled to lose the same amount this year. Look for some fun changes! More articles with subtitles like “here’s what you need to know”! And more emoticons!
HuffPost employees, after a year of working through a pandemic that isn't over, were invited to a meeting today with the password "spring is here," where they were told 47 of them would be laid off. They would only know if they still had a job if they didn't receive an email by 1
— Laura Bassett (@LEBassett) March 9, 2021
Barry sent a tweet of a very strange cat interaction. His comment: “What is it thinking? ‘Get off my chair’? Such a strange sound. And that cocked head!”
I laughed so hard at this 🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/o8KRUA7MQ7
— Nature & Animals🌴 (@AnimalsWorId) March 10, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. First, A. R. Wallace, ever the polite man, defends Darwin. You can read Wallace’s full review here.
A.R. Wallace very politely but definitely eviscerates Brees' 1872 anti-Darwin book "An Exposition of Fallacies in the Hypothesis of Mr. #Darwin" in his review "The Last Attack on Darwinism" in @nature 25 July 1872. (Wallace got "Last" wrong…) #histstm pic.twitter.com/zIa5bA5GCR
— JF Ptak (@ptak) March 10, 2021
A one-minute class in how the mRNA vaccines work:
— Dr. Lucky Tran (@luckytran) March 10, 2021
Yes, they can do this (check the link):
— Ocean Conservancy (@OurOcean) March 10, 2021
Here’s a video of what’s also known as the “dumpling squid”. It’s adorable!
Philosophy made simple by Roz Chast:
— Erik Hoel (@erikphoel) March 10, 2021