It’s Monday, April 19, 2020, and embryonic ducklings are developing away within Honey and Dorothy’s eggs. Hatching is estimated in about two weeks. It’s National Rice Ball Day, a day of cultural appropriation from the Japanese. Such balls are, of course, best when topped with a piece of very fresh fish and a bit of horseradish (put on by the chef). Alternatively, you can make them in, say, the shape of a cat:
It’s also National Garlic Day, National Amaretto Day, Patriots’ Day, commemorating the first battles of the Revolutionary War, fought at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, and Bicycle Day, which doesn’t celebrate bicycles but the effects of LSD:
On April 19, 1943, Albert Hofmann, a researcher at Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland, purposely ingested .25 milligrams (250 micrograms) of LSD at his lab. He thought this would be the threshold dose—the lowest amount taken where there are still effects—when in reality the threshold dose for LSD is only 20 micrograms. But what does a bicycle have to do with the day?
Within an hour, Hofmann began to notice changes in his perception and senses. He decided that he should go home, so he hopped on his bicycle and began riding. Because the drug was already greatly affecting him, he had his laboratory assistant help guide him to his house. At times during his bicycle ride, he thought he was going insane, thought his neighbor was a witch and thought the LSD had poisoned him. He later wrote in LSD: My Problem Child, “On the way home, my condition began to assume threatening forms. Everything in my field of vision wavered and was distorted as if seen in a curved mirror. I also had the sensation of being unable to move from the spot. Nevertheless, my assistant later told me that we had traveled very rapidly.” Needless to say, his bicycle ride was quite a trip.
It’s also Charles Darwin’s Death Day (see below).
News of the Day:
I hate saying this, but I have to report yet another mass shooting, this time in Austin, Texas. Unlike the several other recent killings (imagine having to write that!), this one appears to have been not a “random” act, but intead a domestic dispute. Still, three people are dead and the suspect, identified as Stephen Nicholas Broderick, is still at large.
Already there are suggestions and outright claims that the object of the shooter who killed eight people at a FedEx warehouse in Indianapolis was motivated by hatred—toward Sikhs. Four of the eight people killed were of this religious community, and on NPR this morning I heard a Sikh woman claim the crime was an anti-Sikh hate crime. But 90% of the people who worked in that warehouse were Sikhs, and the shooter worked there previously. Isn’t it bad enough that eight people died without unfounded and divisive claims that the dead were killed because of their faith?
The Indiana shooter, Brandon Hole, who killed himself, legally bought two semiautomatic rifles after a shotgun had been removed from house. How on earth did he get them? The New York Times explains:
Under Indiana’s red flag law, the authorities have two weeks after taking someone’s weapon to argue before a judge that the person is unstable and should be barred from possessing a gun for a period of time. Chief Taylor said he was unsure whether a hearing like that ever took place in the case of Mr. Hole, though the police never returned the shotgun they had seized last year.
“I don’t know how we held onto it,” Mr. Taylor said in an interview on Saturday night. “But it’s good that we did.”
However, the chief added, Mr. Hole went on to “legally purchase a much more powerful weapon than a shotgun.” On Saturday night, the Police Department announced that the two assault-style rifles that Mr. Hole used in Thursday’s attack were bought in July and September of 2020.
Those purchases, the chief suggested, would have been possible only if a red flag determination had never been made. Red flag laws, which exist in more than a dozen states, moved to the center of the national conversation about gun regulation after a massacre at a Florida high school in 2018.
It remains uncertain whether a judge ruled against a red flag determination in Mr. Hole’s case or whether prosecutors took his case before a judge at all.
If they didn’t, then the system itself carries some responsibility for those eight dead.
Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, arrested and put in a hellish prison camp for two years after recently returning to Russia (this was after Putin tried to have him poisoned), is now, say reports, close to death. Besides being on a hunger strike, Navalny has kidney and heart problems, possibly connected to the poisoning attempt (he was in good health before that). Biden has already warned that the U.S. will put sanctions on Russia if Navalny dies, and in the cause of promoting freedom that is a good thing. But can we also do that for countries like Saudi Arabia?
Alexis McGill Johnson, the current president of Planned Parenthood, has writtten a NYT op-ed demanding that the organization have a “reckoning” with the racist views of founder Margaret Sanger and her association with white supremacists. The latter, though, appears to consist solely of this:
Sanger spoke to the women’s auxiliary of the Ku Klux Klan at a rally in New Jersey to generate support for birth control.
Sanger remains an influential part of our history and will not be erased, but as we tell the history of Planned Parenthood’s founding, we must fully take responsibility for the harm that Sanger caused to generations of people with disabilities and Black, Latino, Asian-American, and Indigenous people.
. . . We don’t know what was in Sanger’s heart, and we don’t need to in order to condemn her harmful choices. What we have is a history of focusing on white womanhood relentlessly. Whether our founder was a racist is not a simple yes or no question. Our reckoning is understanding her full legacy, and its impact. Our reckoning is the work that comes next.
And the first step is making Margaret Sanger less prominent in our present and future. The Planned Parent Federation of America has already renamed awards previously given in her honor, and Planned Parenthood of Greater New York renamed its Manhattan health center in 2020. Other independently managed affiliates may choose to follow.
Sanger remains an influential part of our history and will not be erased. . . .
Yes, of course she’ll be erased; that is what this article is all about.
I’m glad to have some good news, though. See my previous post on the Mars helicopter Ingenuity. IT FLEW! This is the first flight of a powered aircraft on another planet (not counting space vehicles themselves).
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 566,804, an increase of 352 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now at 3,034,222, an increase of about 8,700 over yesterday’s total.
Lots of stuff happened on April 19, including these things:
- 1506 – The Lisbon Massacre begins, in which accused Jews are being slaughtered by Portuguese Catholics.
- 1529 – Beginning of the Protestant Reformation: After the Second Diet of Speyer bans Lutheranism, a group of rulers (German: Fürst) and independent cities protests the reinstatement of the Edict of Worms.
- 1770 – Captain James Cook, still holding the rank of lieutenant, sights the eastern coast of what is now Australia.
- 1770 – Marie Antoinette marries Louis XVI of France in a proxy wedding.
She was 14 when this proxy wedding took place.
- 1775 – American Revolutionary War: The war begins with an American victory in Concord during the battles of Lexington and Concord.
- 1818 – French physicist Augustin Fresnel signs his preliminary “Note on the Theory of Diffraction” (deposited on the following day). The document ends with what we now call the Fresnel integrals.
- 1903 – The Kishinev pogrom in Kishinev (Bessarabia) begins, forcing tens of thousands of Jews to later seek refuge in Palestine and the Western world.
Here are some of the victims—children! The massacre began as the locals left their Christian churches on Easter Sunday. This is from the New York Times report:
The mob was led by priests, and the general cry, “Kill the Jews”, was taken-up all over the city. The Jews were taken wholly unaware and were slaughtered like sheep. The dead number 120 and the injured about 500. The scenes of horror attending this massacre are beyond description. Babes were literally torn to pieces by the frenzied and bloodthirsty mob. The local police made no attempt to check the reign of terror. At sunset the streets were piled with corpses and wounded. Those who could make their escape fled in terror, and the city is now practically deserted of Jews.
- 1927 – Mae West is sentenced to ten days in jail for obscenity for her play Sex.
- 1943 – World War II: In Poland, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising begins, after German troops enter the Warsaw Ghetto to round up the remaining Jews.
- 1943 – Albert Hofmann deliberately doses himself with LSD for the first time, three days after having discovered its effects on April 16.
- 1956 – Actress Grace Kelly marries Prince Rainier of Monaco.
- 1971 – Launch of Salyut 1, the first space station.
- 1971 – Charles Manson is sentenced to death (later commuted to life imprisonment) for conspiracy in the Tate–LaBianca murders.
- 1984 – Advance Australia Fair is proclaimed as Australia’s national anthem, and green and gold as the national colours.
Here’s a rendition of the Aussie anthem, which is a lot better than the “Star-Spangled Banner”:
- 1987 – The Simpsons first appear as a series of shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show, first starting with Good Night.
And, once again, here’s the very first appearance of the Simpsons on television:
- 1995 – Oklahoma City bombing: The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, USA, is bombed, killing 168 people including 19 children under the age of six.
- 2011 – Fidel Castro resigns as First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba after holding the title since July 1961.
- 2013 – Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev is killed in a shootout with police. His brother Dzhokhar is later captured hiding in a boat inside a backyard in the suburb of Watertown.
Dzhokhar is incarcerated for several life terms in the “shoe” prison ADX Florence, about as tough a sentence as you can pull.
- 2020 – A killing spree in Nova Scotia, Canada, leaves 22 people and the perpetrator dead, making it the deadliest rampage in the country’s history.
Notables born on this day, however, were few, and include:
Here’s the real Eliot Ness, who looks nothing like Robert Stack:
- 1938 – Stanley Fish, American theorist, author, and scholar
Those who took their last breath on April 19 include:
Here’s Veronese’s “The Feast in the House of Levi“, which has a CAT in it (arrow and enlargement below):
- 1768 – Canaletto, Italian painter and etcher (b. 1697)
- 1824 – Lord Byron, English-Scottish poet and playwright (b. 1788)
- 1881 – Benjamin Disraeli, English journalist and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1804)
- 1882 – Charles Darwin, English biologist and theorist (b. 1809)
- 1906 – Pierre Curie, French physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1859)
- 1937 – William Morton Wheeler, American entomologist and zoologist (b. 1865)
- 1989 – Daphne du Maurier, English novelist and playwright (b. 1907)
- 2004 – John Maynard Smith, English biologist and geneticist (b. 1920)
- 2013 – François Jacob, French biologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1920)
Jacob won with his collaborator Jacques Monod as well as André Lwoff. Here they are in 1971, with Jacob in the foreground. Back then it was okay to smoke in the lab.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has had an epiphany:
Hili: I found the meaning of life.A: What in?Hili: In lying in the sun on your back.(Photo Paulina R.)
Hili: Znalazłam sens życia.Ja: W czym?Hili: W leżeniu na słońcu do góry brzuchem.(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)
Here’s Paulina photographing her beloved Kulka through the window (the cat is downstairs in Andrzej and Malgorzata’s part of the house). Paulina never tires of photographing cats!
Are you a landsman? Then you may want to purchase one of these spiffy Secret Jewish Space Laser Corps enamel pins. Only $14.95, and you can wear it with pride, showing the world how dedicated you are to building light-rail systems in California at the expense of forests! Click on the photo to purchase:
From Jesus of the Day:
Too weird to be false!
i have been laughing over this all morning pic.twitter.com/sjKTdcci55
— Elizabeth May (@_ElizabethMay) April 17, 2021
Titania makes great finds. They’re DOGS, Jake!
Dogs of colour are woefully underrepresented in children's cartoons.
I've watched "Bluey". Believe me, those dogs are oppressively white.
Especially the blue one. pic.twitter.com/OsHeMWUTRW
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) April 18, 2021
From Simon, who says “If anyone remembers Monty Python’s Ovine Aviation sketch, there was Harold, the clever sheep. This is not Harold!”
— 巴丢草 Badiucao (@badiucao) April 17, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. This majestic herd of bison is said to be from Yellowstone Park. What a great comeback they’ve made after having been hunted to near extinction!
I've seen plenty of bison on my trips to the US but never moving like this. Amazing to see. pic.twitter.com/0K4keqcXwO
— Eileen Turner (@EileenTurner8) April 17, 2021
Crocs on a water slide!
Crocodiles have lived for around 240 million years, appearing 25 million years before the first dinosaurs and 100 million years before the first birds and mammals.
Over all those long years, they never once lost their sense of fun. pic.twitter.com/5ZVPkREFMq
— Dick King-Smith HQ (@DickKingSmith) September 1, 2019
These are great; I’ll show four of the twenty in the thread:
2. CALIFORNIA KINGSNAKE
Startlingly swift, a thing of beauty to observe. No fangs, just teeth. Perplexing belief by snake that a human finger can in fact be swallowed by an eighteen-inch animal adds a quirky, vintage charm. Drew blood, but wounds healed quickly.
3.5/5 stars. pic.twitter.com/c5gZx9hS7z
— Yell in a War (@jelenawoehr) April 17, 2021
4. PARROTLET 🦜
A large bite in a small package. If you’re looking to induce your brain and mouth to emit new curse words, this is the bite for you. Focuses on tender webbing between human fingers, as well as cuticles and nail beds. Useful for CIA interrogations?
1.5/5 stars. pic.twitter.com/p0jDNPRAvB
— Yell in a War (@jelenawoehr) April 17, 2021