Good morning on Cat Sabbath: Saturday March 27, 2021: International Whisk(e)y Day (make mine Springbank). It’s also National Spanish Paella Day (you can’t have any since it’s cultural appropriation), World Theater Day, and Brothers’ and Sisters’ Day (the apostrophes are superfluous).
Wine of the Day:
Here we have an inexpensive but terrific Sauvignon Blanc from Chile. As I keep telling people, deep-six the Pinot Grigio and expensive chardonnays for a while, and drink some Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc. This puppy cost me $17.45, which, though above my youthful psychological price barrier (it’s risen as I age), was well worth it. I drank it with fettuccine alfredo, of a sort, and lacked any wines like Riesling or Gewurztraminer to offset the cheese with some sweetness.
It was a full-bodied wine with flavors of minerals and the classic Sauvignon Blanc grassiness, but also some grapefruit. Highly recommended if you can get it for less than twenty bucks. And do look out for good bottles of this grape.
News of the Day:
Instigated by Republicans, and perhaps by Senatorial defeats last fall, the Georgia legislature passed a new law that makes voting difficult in several ways. Outside drop-off ballot boxes are out, and for mail-in ballots you have to provide your driver’s license number. Democrats object because they think these rules make it harder for black people to vote (for instance, a smaller proportion of blacks have a government ID). It’s hard to deny such motivation given who’s pushing the bill and the timing of its passage.
Across the U.S., but especially in Idaho, state legislatures are trying to pass bills restricting the teaching of critical theory, especially Critical Race Theory. While I don’t think kids should be taught it in its most divisive and authoritarian form, neither do I think that state legislatures should set curricula. (However, I think they should ban the teaching of creationism; is that hypocritical of me?) At any rate, if you want to see a defense of teaching CRT in schools, read this column in the NYT (of course) by Michelle Goldberg.
Checking the Washington Post, I can’t find a single editorial that isn’t on the Left side of the political spectrum, or in the center. This means that the paper has gone fully woke, purging all opinion it doesn’t like. And that means that I am likely to cancel my subscription. Even though I consider myself on the Left, a paper’s duty is to present a spectrum of editorial opinions, and I like to challenge myself by reading columnists on the other side of the aisle.
Larry McMurtry, who forged good novels and screenplays from his life in rural Texas, has died at 84. His novels include Lonesome Dove (a Pulitzer winner and a great t.v. miniseries), Terms of Endearment, and The Last Picture Show, which was made into my favorite American movie. McMurtry wrote the screenplay for that movie, too, as well as the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain. McMurtry died at his home in Archer City, Texas, the godforsaken outback town where The Last Picture Show was filmed (it was called “Anarene” in the movie). I made a pilgrimage to that town in 1972 because I liked the movie so much. (The book is good, but not nearly as good as the movie.)
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 547,600, an increase of 1,260 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll stands a 2,781,011, an increase of about 12,500 deaths over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on March 27 includes:
- 1625 – Charles I becomes King of England, Scotland and Ireland as well as claiming the title King of France.
- 1794 – The United States Government establishes a permanent navy and authorizes the building of six frigates.
- 1866 – President of the United States of America Andrew Johnson vetoes the Civil Rights Act of 1866. His veto is overridden by Congress and the bill passes into law on April 9.
That act made anyone born in the U.S. a citizen and gave those of all races equal rights, but only in certain areas.
- 1871 – The first international rugby football match, when Scotland defeats England in Edinburgh at Raeburn Place.
- 1886 – Geronimo, Apache warrior, surrenders to the U.S. Army, ending the main phase of the Apache Wars.
Here’s Geronimo as a U.S. prisoner in 1905, when he was about 76. He was thrown from his horse in 1909 and subsequently died of pneumonia. His last words were reportedly imparted to his nephew:
“I should have never surrendered. I should have fought until I was the last man alive.”
- 1915 – Typhoid Mary, the first healthy carrier of disease ever identified in the United States is put in quarantine for the second time, where she would remain for the rest of her life.
Mary Mallon spent the last 23 years of her life in quarantine in a hospital on North Brother Island in New York’s East River. She had sickened 53 people, of whom 3 died. This was the first known U.S. quarantine of an asymptomatic carrier. Here’s Mallon (foreground) in a hospital bed:
- 1964 – The Good Friday earthquake, the most powerful earthquake recorded in North American history at a magnitude of 9.2 strikes Southcentral Alaska, killing 125 people and inflicting massive damage to the city of Anchorage.
- 1977 – Tenerife airport disaster: Two Boeing 747 airliners collide on a foggy runway on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, killing 583 (all 248 on KLM and 335 on Pan Am). Sixty-one survived on the Pan Am flight. This is the deadliest aviation accident in history.
Here’s a photo after the collision:
- 1981 – The Solidarity movement in Poland stages a warning strike, in which at least 12 million Poles walk off their jobs for four hours.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1845 – Wilhelm Röntgen, German physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1923)
Here’s what’s shown by Wikipedia as “First medical X-ray by Wilhelm Röntgen of his wife Anna Bertha Ludwig’s hand”:
- 1863 – Henry Royce, English engineer and businessman, founded Rolls-Royce Limited (d. 1933)
- 1879 – Edward Steichen, Luxembourger-American painter and photographer (d. 1973)
Here’s a Steichen photo of Loretta Young sitting on a staircase:
- 1886 – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, German-American architect, designed IBM Plaza and Seagram Building (d. 1969)
- 1899 – Gloria Swanson, American actress and producer (d. 1983)
- 1909 – Ben Webster, American saxophonist (d. 1973)
Webster is among the top five jazz saxophonists in my pantheon. Here he is in a rare live film, playing “Over the Rainbow”:
And here’s Sassy singing the same song you just heard Webster play. She died of lung cancer: too many cigarettes. I don’t understand why many great singers smoked (and died from it); another example is Nat King Cole:
- 1942 – John Sulston, English biologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2018)
- 1963 – Quentin Tarantino, American director, producer, screenwriter and actor
- 1969 – Mariah Carey, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actress
Those who began singing in the Choir Invisible on March 27 include:
- 1900 – Joseph A. Campbell, American businessman, founded the Campbell Soup Company (b. 1817)
- 1968 – Yuri Gagarin, Russian colonel, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1934)
Gagarin was the first human sent into space, orbiting for 106 minutes, and then exiting his capsule as it plummeted to Earth, landing by parachute. (He died at 34 in a training-jet crash.) Here’s his Vostok capsule:
- 2002 – Milton Berle, American comedian and actor (b. 1908)
Berle’s real name was Mendel Berlinger, but, being a Jew, he had to change it. I still have no theory about why Jews dominated comedy so heavily.
- 2002 – Dudley Moore, English actor (b. 1935)
- 2012 – Adrienne Rich, American poet, essayist and feminist (b. 1929)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili went upstairs to hunt (photo by Paulina):
Paulina: What are you doing?Hili: I’m hunting an ostrich.Paulina: Ostriches are huge.Hili: I’m hunting a tiny ostrich.
Paulina: Co robisz?Hili: Poluję na strusia.Paulina: Strusie są ogromne.Hili: Poluję na bardzo małego strusia.
Szaron gazing outside:
More “Titania educates” (it should be called “Titania trolling”):
(part 11) pic.twitter.com/ZlOCGXn1EJ
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) March 14, 2021
A tweet from Dom. With a dozen of these d*gs they could free the container ship Ever Given within a few hours. (It’s rudder has been freed and they’ve dredged around it, so the ship may be on its way this weekend.) But they don’t need the cat to dredge:
And this cat pic.twitter.com/XJbMdL1OFV
— Pasi Rikama (@bhasic1) March 26, 2021
From Luana: a survey on racism:
Whites seem to be the least racist major group, even on totally anonymous ANES instruments.
Thoughts? Believe it? https://t.co/KUKEaTLzFv
— Wilfred Reilly (@wil_da_beast630) March 25, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. The “Gessner” in the photo below is the book Historia animalium by the Swiss physician and polymath Conrad Gessner. The book was published in 1551-1558 and again in 1587. But they still couldn’t draw cats in the mid-sixteenth century. Look at that travesty of a cat portrait!
It's Gessner time, folks! pic.twitter.com/fOxTBjgqPw
— Dr Jamie Cumby🌈 (@JECumby) March 26, 2021
Matthew’s daughter Lauren turned 25 two days ago. Here’s part of the celebration with Ollie, whose deft claws laid my nose open a few years ago:
Ollie having fun on Lauren’s birthday pic.twitter.com/NAVIj9LsPX
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) March 26, 2021
Darwin having a rough day:
How awfully flat I shall feel, if when I get my notes together on species, the whole thing explodes like an empty puff-ball. -Darwin on his theory of evolution. 26.3.1854 #DarwinOnThisDay pic.twitter.com/jw73INQ3Ig
— Paige Madison (@FossilHistory) March 26, 2021
Dispersal time for the puggles!
It's that time of year again when juvenile #platypus start to disperse. This little 'puggle' is from our Werribee River population in western #Melbourne. Special thanks to Parks Vic for the recording. If you see a platypus plz record it on @platypusSPOT @MelbourneWater @The_WERG pic.twitter.com/9sBRkjWdBl
— Ryan Burrows (@RyanMBurrows) March 24, 2021