It’s the Cruelest Day, Tuesday, April 20, 2020: National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day. O! What I wouldn’t give to have one of these cakes that my mom used to make. Yes, it uses canned pineapple, but so what? Better that than no pineapple upside down cake, a lacuna that has been my lot for over five decades.
It’s also National Cheddar Fries Day (an inferior American version of poutine), Lima Bean Respect Day (seriously?), and UN Chinese Language Day (United Nations). The stoners among you will recognize that, being 4/20 in American date notation, it’s also a day to celebrate smoking weed, since “420” is American argot for marijuana. Why? Here’s why:
In 1971, five high school students in San Rafael, California, used the term “4:20” in connection with a plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop, based on a treasure map made by the grower. Calling themselves the Waldos, because their typical hang-out spot “was a wall outside the school”, the five students — Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich —designated the Louis Pasteur statue on the grounds of San Rafael High School as their meeting place, and 4:20 pm as their meeting time. The Waldos referred to this plan with the phrase “4:20 Louis”. After several failed attempts to find the crop, the group eventually shortened their phrase to “4:20”, which ultimately evolved into a code-word the teens used to refer to consuming cannabis.
There’s a Google Doodle today that celebrates the 70th birthday of singer Luther Vandross, born on this day in 1951 (he died on July 1, 2005 of a heart attack). Click on the screenshot to see a special YouTube animation of his singing:
Here’s an iPhone photo of my walk to work on Sunday morning. It’s always dark when I go, but I like it.
News of the Day:
If you watched the live feed yesterday, you’ll know that the Mars helicopter Ingenuity succeeded in its first flight, and kudos to the team of NASA teenagers that succeeded in their four-year quest to build and test it. Here’s a video of the full flight. I just can’t get over this–it’s on MARS, for crying out loud!
And a bit of Googling fun. Be sure to click on the drone icon to the right after you search.
— NASA (@NASA) April 19, 2021
The jury in Minneapolis is now deliberating the fate of Derek Chauvin, the accused murderer of George Floyd. I’m pretty sure he’ll be convicted of something, as he seemed wantonly indifferent to Floyd’s pleas, but Congresswoman Maxine Waters just couldn’t keep her gob shut, and that may provide grounds for an appeal:
Derek Chauvin’s lawyer is now saying in court that the comments of Representative Maxine Waters of California, who attended a protest in a Minneapolis suburb after a police officer’s killing of Daunte Wright last week, had the effect of “threatening and intimidating the jury.” In response to a question from reporters at the protest in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minn., about what demonstrators should do if Mr. Chauvin is acquitted, Ms. Waters said: “Well, we’ve got to stay on the street. And we’ve got to get more active. We’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”
Even Judge Cahill, who presided over Chauvin’s trial, said that Waters’s comments could lead to any guilty verdict being overturned. Imagine the pressure to convict that the jurors are under on top of having to weight the evidence, for they know that if Chauvin is acquitted, the country will go up in flames.
The oldest living American just died. Hester Ford of North Carolina passed away at the ripe old age of 115 years and 245 days, a date that’s verified. She was born on August 15, 1904. But someone in Japan is substantially older:
With Ford’s passing, the Gerontology Research Group lists Thelma Sutcliffe of Nebraska, born in 1906, as the oldest living American. The world’s oldest person is Kane Tanaka of Japan at 118 years old, it says.
Yes, it’s now become two in two days, which means that I have to report on yet another multiple shooting, this time up in Kenosha, Wisconsin, near where Greg lives and works. Three people were killed and three injured in a bar shooting. A suspect is in custody.
In the NYT, columnist Ezra Klein reports on a revised form of cancel culture, when companies fire a social-media-mob victim whose words or actions may tarnish the company’s commercial image. In this case, “cancellation” is all about the bucks as well as transgressing moral purity, and here’s Klein’s solution for those too eager to join a mob:
So here’s a guideline that I think would make online discourse better. Unless something that is said is truly dangerous and you actually want to see that person fired from their current job and potentially unable to find a new one — a high bar, but one that is sometimes met — you shouldn’t use social media to join an ongoing pile-on against a normal person.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 567,287, an increase of 483 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now at 3,044,553, an increase of about 10,400 over yesterday’s total.
Lots of stuff happened on April 20, including this:
- 1535 – The sun dog phenomenon is observed over Stockholm, as later depicted in the famous painting Vädersolstavlan.
A word about that painting (below):
The original painting, which was produced shortly after the event and traditionally attributed to Urban målare (“Urban [the] Painter”), is lost, and virtually nothing is known about it. However, a copy from 1636 by Jacob Heinrich Elbfas held in Storkyrkan in Stockholm is believed to be an accurate copy and was until recently erroneously thought to be the restored original. It was previously covered by layers of brownish varnish, and the image was hardly discernible until carefully restored and thoroughly documented in 1998–1999.
- 1775 – American Revolutionary War: The Siege of Boston begins, following the battles at Lexington and Concord.
- 1828 – René Caillié becomes the second non-Muslim to enter (and the first to return from) Timbuktu, following Major Gordon Laing.
Non-Muslims were killed in that city; Caillié entered by disguising himself as an Arab. Here’s a postcard supposedly showing the house in which he stayed:
- 1861 – American Civil War: Robert E. Lee resigns his commission in the United States Army in order to command the forces of the state of Virginia.
- 1862 – Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard complete the experiment disproving the theory of spontaneous generation.
Here’s a diagram of one of the experiments they did to disprove spontaneous generation:
- 1865 – Astronomer Angelo Secchi demonstrates the Secchi disk, which measures water clarity, aboard Pope Pius IX‘s yacht, the L’Immaculata Concezion.
This is the disk, which is lowered into the water until the pattern is no longer visible. That depth is taken as the transparency of the water:
- 1898 – U.S. President William McKinley signed a joint resolution to Congress for declaration of war against Spain, beginning the Spanish–American War.
- 1902 – Pierre and Marie Curie refine radium chloride.
Here’s the Nobel pair in their lab. The first isolation of radium was done via electrolysis of radium chloride, separating the elements:
- 1916 – The Chicago Cubs play their first game at Weeghman Park (currently Wrigley Field), defeating the Cincinnati Reds 7–6 in 11 innings.
CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN!
- 1918 – Manfred von Richthofen, a.k.a. The Red Baron, shoots down his 79th and 80th victims, his final victories before his death the following day.
Here’s Richthofen (who was shot down at age 25) in the cockpit of his famous red biplane:
- 1945 – World War II: Führerbunker: On his 56th birthday Adolf Hitler makes his last trip to the surface to award Iron Crosses to boy soldiers of the Hitler Youth.
- 1945 – Twenty Jewish children used in medical experiments at Neuengamme are killed in the basement of the Bullenhuser Damm school.
- 1961 – Cold War: Failure of the Bay of Pigs Invasion of US-backed Cuban exiles against Cuba.
- 1968 – English politician Enoch Powell makes his controversial “Rivers of Blood” speech.
This short video gives the gist of the nativist speech as well as its results
- 1972 – Apollo program: Apollo 16 lunar module, commanded by John Young and piloted by Charles Duke, lands on the moon.
- 2008 – Danica Patrick wins the Indy Japan 300 becoming the first female driver in history to win an Indy car race.
- 2010 – The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explodes in the Gulf of Mexico, killing eleven workers and beginning an oil spill that would last six months.
- 1999 – Columbine High School massacre: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold kill 13 people and injure 24 others before committing suicide at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado.
It amazes and disgusts me that Harris and Klebold are regarded in some circles as heroes.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1850 – Daniel Chester French, American sculptor, designed the Lincoln statue (d. 1931)
- 1889 – Adolf Hitler, Austrian born German politician, Führer of Nazi Germany (d. 1945)
- 1893 – Joan Miró, Spanish painter and sculptor (d. 1983)
Miró painted many cats, here’s one called “Jumping Cat”:
- 1913 – Willi Hennig, German biologist and entomologist (d. 1976)
- 1949 – Jessica Lange, American actress
Those who petered out on April 20 include:
- 1912 – Bram Stoker, Anglo-Irish novelist and critic, created Count Dracula (b. 1847)
- 1982 – Archibald MacLeish, American poet, playwright, and lawyer (b. 1892)
- 1993 – Cantinflas, Mexican actor, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1911)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, HIli doesn’t want to be stepped on. But Andrzej has never stepped on Hili! Malgorzata notes that “she’s just mean.”
Hili: Notice that I’m lying here.A: It’s difficult not to see.Hili: One never knows with you.(Photo: Paulina R.)
Hili: Zwróć uwagę na to, że ja tu leżę.Ja: Trudno cię nie zauważyć.Hili: Z tobą nigdy nic nie wiadomo.(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)
A nefarious little moggy!
Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman pic.twitter.com/axr5V4br1p
— Giant Military Cats (@giantcat9) April 16, 2021
From reader Barry, who says, “This is outside a Trinity Baptist Church in South Carolina”.
Well this is horrifying. pic.twitter.com/WKTppd4le1
— Zack Hunt (@ZaackHunt) April 19, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. First, the Big Event of yesterday:
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) April 19, 2021
I saw this, and it was a great moment. Sound up:
Mimi Aung is EVERYONE TODAY!! She tears up in-case-of-failure plan because IT'S A SUCCESS: "We can now say that human beings have flown a rotorcraft on another planet" 😭❤ History has been made, everyone! pic.twitter.com/njgxQXclZy
— Sophia Gad-Nasr (@Astropartigirl) April 19, 2021
And a cat’s reaction:
— Giant Military Cats (@giantcat9) April 19, 2021
This was more appropriate yesterday on the anniversary of Darwin’s death, but I didn’t get it before I posted the Hili Dialogue. Yes, Darwin was a bit of a depressive.
In honour of Charles Darwin's death, which occurred on this day in 1882, take a moment to enjoy these magnificent quotes from his often grumpy letters. Many more here: https://t.co/mvknSVIMgZ pic.twitter.com/3Fp92UvMAv
— Letters of Note (@LettersOfNote) April 19, 2021
Here’s an anti-Semitic conversation on a site called The Clubhouse, which Matthew says “is like audio Twitter.” There’s audio, so sound on:
“Jewish people cry about Hitler but Hitler did what he had to do for his people. Germany today is a superpower because of Hitler. Don’t you ever forget that.” https://t.co/9M7BF06W22 pic.twitter.com/MoIZmCLYwb
— michaela 👩🏻💻 (@MichaelaHirsh) April 19, 2021
. . . . aaaand, it’s DUCKLING SEASON!
Black-bellied Whistling duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis)🐦🦜🕊️🦆🎵🐤❤️🐤 pic.twitter.com/L8Jlbpgshl
— World birds (@worldbirds32) April 14, 2021