We’re almost at the weekend: it’s Thursday, April 15, 2021, and National Ham Day, which is not inclusive since it leaves out many Jews and all Muslims. It’s also International Pizza Cake Day (these are cakes that resemble pizzas, see below), World Art Day, Jackie Robinson Day (he broke the “color barrier” in major league baseball when starting at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947), National Glazed Spiral Ham Day, McDonald’s Day (Ray Kroc opened the McDonald’s No. 1 Store—actually the ninth—on this date in Des Plaines Illinois in 1955, World Art Day, Universal Day of Culture, and National Ask an Atheist Day (I did a version of that yesterday). I am out of sorts today and posting may be very thin.
Here’s a pizza cake (I’ve never seen one before):
Normally today would also be the deadline for filing income taxes, but because of the pandemic that day has been postponed to Monday, May 17.
News of the Day:
Former police officer Kim Potter, who mistook her gun for a taser, resulting in the death of Daunte Wright after a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter. (Last night the NBC News said that about one death a year occurs this way, but I’m still baffled at how one can think a gun is a taser.). Here’s the charge:
Under Minnesota law, someone is guilty of second-degree manslaughter if that person causes the death of another through “culpable negligence” and “creates an unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another.” The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
Wright’s family, which has called for an end to the riots and looting, nevertheless wants Potter charged with murder.
Bernie Madoff died in prison yesterday at 82—or rather in a Federal Prison hospital—of terminal kidney disease. His machinations constituted the biggest Ponzi scheme in history, creating a loss (on paper) of an estimated $64.8 billion.
Who knew department: Thanks to the pandemic, America is experiencing a ketchup shortage—to the extent that people are selling small restaurant packets of the condiment on eBay and Facebook Marketplace for unmaginable prices. The Wall Street Journal reports the inflation:
The prices in dozens of ketchup-packet listings posted online range all the way from a quarter to $5 each, the latter in a lot of 20 packets for $100. Each has about a third of an ounce of ketchup.
Kent Reining, a Facebook Marketplace seller from Danville, Ill., offered packets for $4 each, or a bargain price of 20 for $50.
“There’s a shortage,” he wrote. “Don’t try to lowball me, I know what I’ve got.”
Twenty packets for $100! You can see various degrees of ketchup- gouging on eBay.
The NYT has a mostly-pictures article on renowned artist Ai WeiWei and his cats. WeiWei, also a political dissident who served time in a jail in China, now lives in Cambridge in the UK. Here’s a sample photo (h/t Barry):
India reported over 200,000 new covid cases yesterday: a one-day figure surpassed only by the U.S. New lockdowns have been reported in both Delhi and the state of Maharashtra, which includes Mumbai (“Bombay”).
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 563,926, an increase of 932 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll stands at 2,987,871, a increase of about 13,400 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on April 15 includes:
There’s a story, probably aprocryphal, about Johnson’s omission of “objectionable and indelicate words” from his Dictionary; you can read about it here.
- 1865 – President Abraham Lincoln dies after being shot the previous evening by actor John Wilkes Booth. Vice President Andrew Johnson becomes President upon Lincoln’s death.
- 1912 – The British passenger liner RMS Titanic sinks in the North Atlantic at 2:20 a.m., two hours and forty minutes after hitting an iceberg. Only 710 of 2,224 passengers and crew on board survive.
There’s a site where you can view (and even buy) some relics of the Titanic. Here’s a notable one: a deck chair from the ship, recovered from the sea after the sinking. Its provenance has been established, and it’s in a private collection:
- 1920 – Two security guards are murdered during a robbery in South Braintree, Massachusetts. Anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti would be convicted of and executed for the crime, amid much controversy.
- 1923 – Insulin becomes generally available for use by people with diabetes.
In that same year Banting and Macleod won the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for the discovery of the hormone.
Here are some of the lucky survivors upon the camp’s liberation. 60,000 of them were freed, but there were also 13,000 bodies lying about, soon buried in mass graves. 70,000 people died before the liberation:
Here’s a baseball card for Robinson from 1948; it was auctioned a few years ago for $336,000:
- 1955 – McDonald’s restaurant dates its founding to the opening of a franchised restaurant by Ray Kroc, in Des Plaines, Illinois.
- 1989 – Hillsborough disaster: A human crush occurs at Hillsborough Stadium, home of Sheffield Wednesday, in the FA Cup Semi-final, resulting in the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans.
Here’s live video of the crush on Irish t.v., but note that some of the scenes are upsetting:
- 2013 – Two bombs explode near the finish line at the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts, killing three people and injuring 264 others.
- 2019 – The cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris in France is seriously damaged by a large fire.
I was lucky enough to have visited the Cathedral, pre-fire, many times, including in the year it was burnt. Here’s a scene of the toppling spire from CNN:
Notables born on this day include:
- 1707 – Leonhard Euler, Swiss mathematician and physicist (d. 1783)
- 1772 – Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, French biologist and zoologist (d. 1844)
- 1843 – Henry James, American novelist, short story writer, and critic (d. 1916)
- 1889 – Thomas Hart Benton, American painter and educator (d. 1975)
This picture, “Still Life with Black Cat,” is said to be by Benton, and it looks like his work, but I can find it only on Pinterest:
- 1894 – Nikita Khrushchev, Russian general and politician, 7th Premier of the Soviet Union (d. 1971)
- 1894 – Bessie Smith, African-American singer and actress (d. 1937)
Khrushchev and Bessie Smith were born on the same day!
- 1907 – Nikolaas Tinbergen, Dutch-English ethologist and ornithologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1988)
- 1912 – Kim Il-sung, North Korean general and politician, 1st Supreme Leader of North Korea (d. 1994)
- 1922 – Harold Washington, American lawyer and politician, 51st Mayor of Chicago (d. 1987)
- 1933 – Roy Clark, American musician and television personality (d. 2018)
- 1955 – Dodi Fayed, Egyptian film producer (d. 1997)
- 1959 – Emma Thompson, English actress, comedian, author, activist and screenwriter
- 1990 – Emma Watson, English actress
Here’s the poignant ending of “The Remains of the Day,” starring Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins. If you haven’t yet seen it, do. Ships in the night!
Those who relinquished their ghost on this day include:
- 1865 – Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States (b. 1809)
- 1889 – Father Damien, Belgian priest and saint (b. 1840)
Damien, of course, ministered to those afflicted with leprosy (now “Hansen’s Disease”) on the Hawaiian island of Molokai, where they were quarantined. Here’s a photo of him shortly before he died, with the signs of leprosy obvious:
- 1949 – Wallace Beery, American actor, director, and screenwriter (b. 1885)
- 1980 – Jean-Paul Sartre, French philosopher and author, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1905)
Here’s Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir meeting with Che Guevara in Cuba (1960):
- 1990 – Greta Garbo, Swedish-American actress (b. 1905)
- 1998 – Pol Pot, Cambodian general and politician, 29th Prime Minister of Cambodia (b. 1925)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s thoughts deserve explication. Malgorzata says, ” A cat’s life is simple and easy: sleep, hunt, eat. In case of cats such as Hili, they even have their bowls filled and get plenty of petting. But Hili wants to be treated as a thinker so she invents ‘complexity'”.
Hili: I’m thinking.A: What about?Hili: About complexity.
Hili: Myślę.Ja: O czym?Hili: O złożoności
Andrzej also took a photo of Baby Kulka:
A meme from Bruce:
From Pet Jokes and Puns:
From Titania. I’m not quite sure who Idris Elba is, but clearly the same mishigas we have in the U.S. is also found in Britain:
Thrilled to see someone FINALLY calling out Idris Elba for not being black enough.
Quite frankly, with all my pioneering work for social justice, I’m far blacker than Idris Elba could ever hope to be. pic.twitter.com/AvC540sq4U
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) April 14, 2021
Here’s a 9.5-miinute debate about whether such “color blind” casting is objectionable. Oy! I’ll let the Brits weigh in here.
TV detective Luther isn't BLACK enough! According to a BBC diversity chief, who said Idris Elba's character isn't authentic in portraying black people.
But can a fictional character be defined by its race?
— RT UK (@RTUKnews) April 14, 2021
From Simon, who says “the microchips in the covid vaccine are redundant”:
— Moshe Vardi (@vardi) April 13, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. I love nearly all birds, but can’t abide the defecatory and brazen Canada goose. There are more tweets of brazen geese in the thread.
Also known as Cobra Chicken pic.twitter.com/iw8wvx1RKr
— Channa Prakash (@AgBioWorld) April 12, 2021
Canada goose vs. office ninja pic.twitter.com/NQScqivwIT
— Channa Prakash (@AgBioWorld) April 12, 2021
If you want to see the centipede's swimming action, watch this videohttps://t.co/9wUSYlzdGj
— Gil Wizen (@wizentrop) April 14, 2021
I’ll see something very like this in a few weeks:
13 ducklings jump in a pond, and it's cute.
via reddit pic.twitter.com/fbok740UbC
— Professor John R. Hutchinson (@JohnRHutchinson) April 14, 2021