It won’t be long now until we have ducklings, as it’s Thursday, April 22, 2021: National Jelly Bean Day. And it’s Earth Day, first celebrated in 1970. Here’s the “Earth Flag” (also called the “Earth Day Flag”, designed by John McConnell in 1970. Let’s hope on this day (and every day) that we don’t destroy the planet. (We won’t, really, because if we go extinct Earth will still recover, though we’ll take a lot of species with us. But those species deserve to live as much as we do, especially the ducks.)
Today Google has a lovely “Earth Day” Doodle, which depicts one generation after another planting trees and growing up as the trees do. It’s an inducement to plant trees, which can help ameliorate climate change.
Click on the screenshot to see the 40-second video:
Vaccinations against Covid are going well in the U.S.: yesterday we hit 200 million (I’ll use the odious phrase) “shots in arms”, doubling Uncle Joe’s goal of 100 million in his first hundred days in office (I think he’s been in ninety-some days). The down side, and this isn’t Biden’s fault, is that “vaccine hesitancy” is afoot, and the rate of inoculations is slowing markedly. I wonder if we’ll reach the vaunted “herd immunity.” Trying to figure that out, I found out that we don’t know the proportion of Americans that need to get their jabs to reach this goal. The World Health Organization says this (my emphasis):
The percentage of people who need to be immune in order to achieve herd immunity varies with each disease. For example, herd immunity against measles requires about 95% of a population to be vaccinated. The remaining 5% will be protected by the fact that measles will not spread among those who are vaccinated. For polio, the threshold is about 80%. The proportion of the population that must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to begin inducing herd immunity is not known. This is an important area of research and will likely vary according to the community, the vaccine, the populations prioritized for vaccination, and other factors.
In lesser news, it’s “In God We Trust Day,” for it was on April 22, 1864, that Congress approved the words “In God We Trust” for usage on U.S. coins. The phrase didn’t appear on bills until 1957—a relic of American determination to show that we weren’t like godless Communists. Our currency should revert to the original motto, “E Pluribus Unum,” which holds for all of us. Finally, it’s Love Your Thighs Day, which is bizarre; I haven’t thought about my thighs in, well, ever.
Wine of the Day: This 2017 Pinot Grigio was about $20 a couple of years ago, and I drank it last night with a juicy pork chop, rice, and fresh tomatoes (this seems to be my standard meal these days). With warmer weather coming, I need to break out some whites. This was a good one: a very heavy and gutsy version of Pinot Grigio, light gold in color and with a nose of pears and flowers. It would go well with almost anything save red meat. And although I don’t favor wine with Chinese or Mexican food (beer is my tipple of choice), this would do well, though I’d prefer something a bit more sweet like a Riesling or Gewurztraminer. This one is very good value for the price.
News of the Day:
As I predicted, Derek Chauvin has been deemed a “prisoner at risk”; he’s being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day at Minnesota’s only high-security prison. I doubt he’ll survive his sentence. His one hour out of the cell involves solitary exercise: the same routine given to federal prisoners at the Florence ADX “shoe” prison.
The Guardian has an article about “the king of absentees”, an Italian hospital employee who didn’t work for fifteen years but still drew a salary that whole time. His stipendiary emoluments amounted to almost $650,000, and he faces charges of abuse of office, forgery and aggravated extortion. Apparently he was about to be disciplined years ago, but his boss retired and they forgot to check on the miscreant’s attendance after that (h/t Jez).
Dorothy, Honey, and Shmuley made the Chicago Tribune yesterday, in a photo illustrating an article about the resumption of “normal” student activities on our campus. Here’s the photo and caption. THEY DON’T MENTION THE DUCKS!:
Update: I’m told that in the printed version of the paper, the caption is: “A bicyclist passes by ducks on Botany Pond on the University of Chicago campus March 24.”
“Honey, Dorothy, and Shmuley, the three legendary ducks of Botany Pond at the University of Chicago, ignore a passing cyclist.”
Television showed images of people with empty oxygen cylinders crowding refilling facilities in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, as they scrambled to save stricken relatives in hospital.
The situation was so severe that some people tried to loot an oxygen tanker, forcing authorities to beef up security, according to the health minister of the northern state of Haryana.
India now faces a coronavirus “storm” overwhelming its health system, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a national address on Tuesday, adding that authorities were working with states and private firms to deliver oxygen with speed.
Because of the pandemic, India has banned all incoming international passenger flights until April 30, and many places, like Hong Kong and England, have severely restricted flights coming from India.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 568,962, an increase of 721 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now at 3,073,912, an increase of about 13,900 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on April 22 includes:
- 1836 – Texas Revolution: A day after the Battle of San Jacinto, forces under Texas General Sam Houston identify Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna among the captives of the battle when some of his fellow soldiers mistakenly give away his identity.
Santa Anna survived, and even became President of Mexico briefly, but then spent the rest of his life wandering from country to country in exile, dying in 1874. A cannonball hit required amputation of much of his left leg, and he wore a prosthetic. Curiously, his wooden leg is on display at the Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield. Here it is:
- 1876 – The first major league baseball game is played at the Jefferson Street Grounds in Philadelphia.
The game was between the Philadelphia Athletics and the Boston “baseball club”: Boston won 6-5.
- 1889 – At noon, thousands rush to claim land in the Land Rush of 1889. Within hours the cities of Oklahoma City and Guthrie are formed with populations of at least 10,000.
Here’s a photo of the land rush; 50,000 people hurried to claim 12,000 designated plots of land (don’t ask about the Native Americans):
- 1915 – The use of poison gas in World War I escalates when chlorine gas is released as a chemical weapon in the Second Battle of Ypres.
Now banned, this gas is mean stuff, but I’m not sure exactly why it’s considered worse than, say, bullets, which can cause equal death and suffering. Here’s a photo from Wikipedia labeled, “British troops blinded by poison gas during the Battle of Estaires, 1918.” It is very depressing to see this:
- 1954 – Red Scare: Witnesses begin testifying and live television coverage of the Army–McCarthy hearings begins.
- 1970 – The first Earth Day is celebrated.
- 2016 – The Paris Agreement is signed, an agreement to help fight global warming.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1451 – Isabella I of Castile (d. 1504)
- 1707 – Henry Fielding, English novelist and playwright (d. 1754)
- 1724 – Immanuel Kant, German anthropologist, philosopher, and academic (d. 1804)
- 1870 – Vladimir Lenin, Russian revolutionary and founder of Soviet Russia (d. 1924)
Lenin was a cat lover, though that doesn’t compensate for the 3+ million people who died because of his actions:
Nabokov loved not cats, but moths and butterflies. For six years he was curator of Lepidoptera at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, where I got my Ph.D. I have seen specimens he collected, but he was long gone when I was there. Here he is with his beloved insects:
- 1922 – Charles Mingus, American bassist, composer, and bandleader (d. 1979)
- 1936 – Glen Campbell, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (d. 2017)
I love to show this clip of Campbell singing “Gentle on My Mind” in a group of country music greats. It shows what a fantastic guitarist he was (he was a “session player” before he became famous). Can you recognize the other stars.
Those whose metabolism ground to a halt on April 22 include:
- 1984 – Ansel Adams, American photographer and environmentalist (b. 1902)
Here’s Adams’s “Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada, From Lone Pine”. I’ve seen a version of this view many times—each time I drove to Death Valley for field work. It’s taken from the turnoff to Death Valley from California Route 395, in my view the most beautiful road in the lower 48 states. Note the horse. Mount Whitney, the highest point in the continental U.S., is visible too, but I’ll let you figure out which one it is. The shadowed hills in the foreground are the Alabama Hills, where many early Western movies were filmed.
- 1994 – Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States (b. 1913)
- 2013 – Richie Havens, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1941)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Paulina is photographing the Princess:
Paulina: Smile.Hili: Like La Gioconda or like Cheshire cat?
Paulina: Uśmiechnij się.Hili: Jak Gioconda, czy jak kot z Cheshire?
Here’s little Kulka up in the trees again:
Maarten Boudry’s cat Winston Purrchill is a very late entry for 2014’s “Cat Confession Contest.” When I asked Maarten whether Winston really did that, he responded, “Yes, he did! He ruins half of the toilet rolls by dragging them down from the shelf and inside the bowl, and then rips apart the remaining non-soaked ones. 🙂 (I keep forgett!ing to close the door).
Remember, this is in Belgium, where there’s again a lockdown. Martin reports, “Yes, we’re having a partial lockdown again: bars and restaurants still closed, even outside gatherings are limited, vaccination is agonizingly slow, and ICUs are almost at full capacity.”
From Jesus of the Day:
Titania has a list of her predictions come true:
On 19 September 2018, I criticised Julie Andrews (aka Mary Poppins) for chimney soot blackface.
On 28 January 2019, the New York Times concurred. pic.twitter.com/fammVCKODB
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) December 18, 2020
A tweet from Simon. This is the weirdest place I’ve ever seen a cat sleeping:
Find your niche pic.twitter.com/jxwlWpt9Yg
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) April 21, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. The second one shows what I believe is a stupendous case of mimicry: a jumping spider pattern on a butterfly wing (jumping spiders are to be avoided).
Possibly the best spider butt: this Gemmed Satyr. It's in a different butterfly family (Nymphalidae) This butterfly just has a WHOLE ENTIRE JUMPING SPIDER on its butt.
(Pics by Judy Gallagher, (CC BY 2.0) and Abdul Momin (CC BY-SA 4.0)) pic.twitter.com/Bkn2akJZPU
— Rosemary Mosco (Bird And Moon Comics) (@RosemaryMosco) April 21, 2021
Here I’ve rotated the spider picture 90° counterclockwise so you can see the mimicry better. I can’t imagine what else the pattern would be!
A beautiful visualization of the wind on Mars from the Ingenuity flight:
Dust in the Wind… on Mars. These enhanced side-by-side videos from @NASAPersevere's Mastcam-Z reveal plumes from #MarsHelicopter upon takeoff and landing. It helps us better understand the Martian wind, and how dust travels through the Red Planet’s atmosphere. pic.twitter.com/JtXBiqCgMW
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) April 21, 2021
My retirement job has been advertised: CAT SCIENTIST!
WE ARE HIRING!
BNF is seeking a Cat Scientist (CS) to work under the BNF Research Manager and to lead the new Kalimantan Wild Cat Initiative.
— BorneoNatureFdn (@BorneoNature) April 15, 2021
Okay, this is the weirdest sea creature going. You get two videos!
It lives at such extreme depths that much of what we know is from those that are inadvertently caught in deep sea nets so this video is an honour to see
here is the link to the full vid with sound 2/2 https://t.co/wMpoEiQr1F
— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) April 21, 2021