Good morning on Cat Sabbath: April 10, 2020: National Cinnamon Roll Day. (Now you’re talking!) It’s also American Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Day, National Farm Animals Day, Siblings Day, and National Hug Your Dog Day. (It’s also World Homeopathy Day, but we aren’t celebrating quackery.)
News of the Day:
The editorial board of The Washington Post has raised the alarm that Vladimir Putin is trying to slowly kill his activist opponent Alexei Navalny, who was sent to a “severe” prison camp after returning to Russia:
Mr. Navalny, whom the Russian secret police unsuccessfully sought to kill last summer with a banned chemical weapon, is now being held in a prison camp known for its harsh conditions about 60 miles from Moscow. Since his arrival there in late February, he has been systematically deprived of sleep through hourly wakings and denied proper medical treatment for serious ailments, including herniated and bulging disks in his back and a respiratory ailment Mr. Navalny believes may be tuberculosis. Since last week, Mr. Navalny has been on a hunger strike to protest his treatment; his lawyers say his weight is down 30 pounds and is falling by two pounds a day.
The board says that one solution is to apply pressure to Putin by freezing the assets of the 35 oligarchs who protect Putin’s private fortune, and to deny them travel visas as well.
Several news sources today, including the odious HuffPost and the un-odious Federal Trade Commission, emphasized that you should not post pictures of your coronavirus vaccination card on social media. It can lead to the theft of your identity, or fraud since others can use your information to pretend that they were vaccinated. Keep your card in a safe place (I laminated mine; others put it in a plastic card holder), and make a Xerox or a photograph of both sides to serve as backup (email it to yourself as well). Blank card forms are being sold in various dark corners of the Internet to facilitate this fraud.
Why are smooth, rounded, fist-sized stones found in Wyoming a geological match to quartzite found 1,000 miles away in Wisconsin? Six scientists have published a paper (blurbed in the NYT) suggesting that these stones were “gastroliths,” swallowed by sauropod dinosaurs and used to digest plant material. The dinos, they say, carried the stones on their migrations. The hitch is that these reptiles aren’t known to have moved that far, and the stones haven’t yet been associated with dinosaur remains. Stay tuned. Here’s a photo of the putative gastroliths:
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 560,531, an increase of 956 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll stands at 2,931,073, an increase of about 13,400 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on April 10 includes:
- 1710 – The Statute of Anne, the first law regulating copyright, comes into force in Great Britain.
- 1858 – After the original Big Ben, a 14.5 tonnes (32,000 lb) bell for the Palace of Westminster, had cracked during testing, it is recast into the current 13.76 tonnes (30,300 lb) bell by Whitechapel Bell Foundry.
Remember that “Big Ben” is the name not of the clock tower (now called “Elizabeth Tower” after the Queen), but of the largest of the five bells that chime. Here’s a picture of the real Big Ben with the striking hammer. (I wonder if they rotate the bell so the same place doesn’t get hit all the time.)
- 1865 – American Civil War: A day after his surrender to Union forces, Confederate General Robert E. Lee addresses his troops for the last time.
- 1912 – RMS Titanic sets sail from Southampton, England on her maiden and only voyage.
Here’s an interesting contemporary newsreel showing the last scenes of the ship leaving Belfast for Southampton before the disaster, the captain of the Titanic, who went down with the ship, and some scenes of the survivors arriving in New York on the Carpathia:
- 1919 – Mexican Revolution leader Emiliano Zapata is ambushed and shot dead by government forces in Morelos.
He was pretty badly shot up; you can see the photo of his body here.
- 1925 – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is first published in New York City, by Charles Scribner’s Sons.
The book didn’t sell that well when it came out (it’s now a staple of high-school English classes, though there have been noises about cancelation), but a first edition with the famous “eyes” dust jacket went for between $100,000 and $150,000 in 2013:
This is the second deadliest submarine accident in history; here’s the ship on the surface. Nobody knows for sure what went wrong, though one guess is that the form of welding of the pipes contributed to the sinking. The remains have been found—in several pieces—2,600 metres (8,400 ft) below the surface.
- 1970 – Paul McCartney announces that he is leaving The Beatles for personal and professional reasons.
- 1998 – The Good Friday Agreement is signed in Northern Ireland.
- 2019 – Scientists from the Event Horizon Telescope project announce the first ever image of a black hole, located in the centre of the M87 galaxy.
Here’s that image, with the Wikipedia caption,
“The supermassive black hole at the core of supergiant elliptical galaxy Messier 87, with a mass about 7 billion times that of the Sun, as depicted in the first false-colour image in radio waves released by the Event Horizon Telescope (10 April 2019). Visible are the crescent-shaped emission ring and central shadow, which are gravitationally magnified views of the black hole’s photon ring and the photon capture zone of its event horizon. The crescent shape arises from the black hole’s rotation and relativistic beaming; the shadow is about 2.6 times the diameter of the event horizon.”
Notables born on this day include:
- 1794 – Matthew C. Perry, English-Scottish American commander (d. 1858)
- 1847 – Joseph Pulitzer, Hungarian-American journalist, publisher, and politician, founded Pulitzer, Inc. (d. 1911)
- 1917 – Robert Burns Woodward, American chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1979)
- 1932 – Omar Sharif, Egyptian actor and screenwriter (d. 2015)
- 1988 – Haley Joel Osment, American actor
Those who croaked on April 10 include:
- 1909 – Algernon Charles Swinburne, English poet, playwright, novelist, and critic (b. 1837)
- 1919 – Emiliano Zapata, Mexican general (b. 1879)
- 1955 – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French priest, theologian, and philosopher (b. 1881)
- 1962 – Stuart Sutcliffe, Scottish artist and musician (b. 1940)
Sutcliffe, below left, was a bass guitarist for the Beatles (there were five members then) before he left the band in 1961 to become an artist. He died a year later from a ruptured cerebral aneurysm. Here’s the very early band with Pete Best on the drums.
- 1966 – Evelyn Waugh, English soldier, novelist, journalist and critic (b. 1903)
- 1975 – Walker Evans, American photographer (b. 1903)
Evans is most famous for his photographs of Depression-era poverty in the South, a project for the Farm Security Administration (the photos are part of the famous book with James Agee, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men).. Here’s one photo, “Alabama, 1936”, showing a sharecropper family:
And his photo of another sharecropper’s wife, Allie Mae Burroughs. She was but 27 when this photo was taken:
And the family, with her husband Floyd:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the Hili dialogue is explained by Malgorzata, “Hili sees some kind of insect and, remembering Heisenberg, she calls this unknown to her insect a mobile uncertainty.”
A: What do you see there?Hili: A mobile uncertainty.
Ja: Co tam widzisz?Hili: Ruchliwą nieokreśloność.
Pareidolia from Seth Andrews: a cinnamon bun resembles Mother Teresa. Seth’s caption is “This will never not be funny.”
Titania has a new edition of Things that Are Racist:
THINGS THAT ARE RACIST
• Smart casual pic.twitter.com/OXyuqWLZCH
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) April 9, 2021
From Barry: a very needy raccoon:
— 🦝 (@sweetraccoons) April 7, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. About the first one he says, “This could be you in about five weeks.” And I think he’s just about right, with both the situation and the timing:
— caenhillcc (@caenhillcc) April 8, 2021
And this is a true story; read the horrifying article. The guy lived, but barely. . .
Hello, this is a call-out for Irish blokes named Paul and John who were in Melbourne in 1965 and helped a homesick Welsh man get home by packing him into a wooden crate and airmailing him back to the UK… Brian wants to buy you a drink. [Crazy story] https://t.co/dClVa6YWyt
— Frances Mao (@francesmao) April 8, 2021
I think this badger had too much coffee:
Overexcited badger of the day. pic.twitter.com/pEzRQtWatq
— Dick King-Smith HQ (@DickKingSmith) April 9, 2021
And a tweet from Dr. Cobb himself. He teaches this stuff, so what he says is true:
This is the essential message of the last 11 years of mind- boggling discoveries from ancient DNA. https://t.co/A4dPvri1jB
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) April 9, 2021
As we saw in yesterday’s tweets, Carmen the mallard hen nested in a plant pot seven floors up. And now we learn that she produced 16 ducklings! But they’ll be okay, as they’ve all been rescued and taken to an appropriate place of by wildlife experts. And, like Honey, Carmen the duck nested on that very same balcony a year ago!
— Johanna Kolerski-B. (@JohannaKoBe) April 9, 2021