End of the week again! It’s Friday, April 23, 2021: National Picnic Day. It’s also National Cherry Cheesecake Day, German Beer Day, World Book Day, UN English Language Day, UN Spanish Language Day, Lover’s Day, National Lost Dog Awareness Day, and World Laboratory Day. Hili is half an hour late today as I’ve been doing ducky things.
News of the Day:
If you watched the launch of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft and its crew of four, you’ll have seen that it was a big success, with nothing going wrong. The crew is now in orbit, heading for the ISS, and the first stage has landed successfully on the recovery barge. You can review the launch, orbiting, and recovery here, just scroll back until the launch and then watch for about ten minutes: that’s about how long the whole process took. I’m still amazed and stupefied that humans can actually do something like this—imagine all the things that have to work properly to get four astronauts from Florida to an orbiting space station.
The New York Times has a “Springtime Politics Quiz,” with 14 questions and three choices of answers for each. I’m sad to say that I got only 8 out of 14 right. Clearly I haven’t been paying sufficient attention to domestic politics.
Firefighters got the fire under control within 25 minutes, but at least one encountered the serval, a savannah wild cat native to Sub-Saharan Africa, and suffered a minor injury from a bite to the fingers.
Officials estimated the cat weighed 60 to 70 pounds, though the cats typically only weigh up to 40 pounds in the wild.
With the fire out, the firefighters decided to close up the house with the cat inside until the homeowner and animal control officers could contain it. It was later captured safely.
Fire district officials said the serval was “unharmed, just a little freaked out.”
Here’s a photo of the cat after capture:
Reader Loren, who sent me this report, notes that it’s legal to own a serval in Felida.
And more animal news from the BBC via reader Jez: A tiny ungulate, a Lesser Mouse-Deer (Tragulus kanchil) , also called the Lesser Malay Chevrotain, was recently born in Bristol. This species is the smallest known hoofed mammal:
A tiny mouse deer, born during lockdown at Bristol Zoo, is only 20cm (8ins) tall to its shoulder, the height of a pencil.
The lesser Malayan mouse deer was born to first-time mother Brienne and father Jorah almost a month ago.
Its sex is not yet known however it is only the second mouse deer to be born at the zoo in the last decade.
Mouse deer are native to South East Asia and when fully grown the infant will weigh about 3lb (1.5kg).
Here’s a BBC photo of the baby. Isn’t it cute?
Here’s a video of an adult of the species. THEY’RE DEER THAT ARE SMALLER THAN CATS!
Not long ago, Siddhartha Mukherjee wrote a piece in the New Yorker about the amazing paucity of Covid deaths in India, and gave a number of speculations why this was the case. Well, it ain’t the case any longer. As I’ve reported several times, the virus is exploding in India, and yesterday the country set a new record for covid cases in any country: nearly 315,000 new cases reported in a single day. And that must be an underestimate. Things are grim:
As the health system breaks down, there are fears that law and order may follow: Oxygen tankers are traveling under police guard to fend off looters. The black market trade in medical equipment has soared. Vaccines were stolen Thursday from a hospital warehouse in Haryana – but then the thief returned them hours later, with a note of apology. Police say the thief may have intended to steal anti-viral drugs, which are also in short supply.
People are stockpiling oxygen tanks at home, figuring there’s no use in even trying to get into a hospital anymore.
Social media are full of desperate pleas from Indians seeking hospital beds, oxygen, anti-viral drugs, vaccines. One longtime journalist live-tweeted his declining oxygen levels until he died.
Here is one of those live tweets by the dying journalist, and the sad resolution:
Patient has died in the morning. https://t.co/W4MAfvw8uO
— Jyoti Yadav (@jyotiyadaav) April 19, 2021
The links above are heartbreaking. Why the big outbreak given that few have been vaccinated, even now? Perhaps it’s a new variant.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 569l,869, an increase of 719 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now at 3,087,230, an increase of about 13,300 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on April 23 include:
- 1516 – The Munich Reinheitsgebot (regarding the ingredients of beer) takes effect in all of Bavaria.
It still holds generally; Wikpedia says this: “Modern versions of the law have contained significant exceptions for different types of beer (such as top-fermented beers), for export beers, and for different regions. The basic law now declares that only malted grains, hops, water and yeast are permitted.”
The school is still doing business, and is still rigorous: “Its curriculum follows that of the 18th century Latin school movement, which holds the classics to be the basis of an educated mind. Four years of Latin are mandatory for all pupils who enter the school in the 7th grade, three years for those who enter in the 9th grade.”
- 1914 – First baseball game at Wrigley Field, then known as Weeghman Park, in Chicago.
- 1927 – Cardiff City defeat Arsenal in the FA Cup Final, the only time it has been won by a team not based in England.
- 1945 – World War II: Adolf Hitler‘s designated successor, Hermann Göring, sends him a telegram asking permission to take leadership of the Third Reich. Martin Bormann and Joseph Goebbels advise Hitler that the telegram is treasonous.
Göring surrendered to American troops (if the Germans got him back, they would have shot him), was tried at Nuremberg and found guilty of war crimes, sentenced to hang, and then committed suicide the night before his scheduled execution by swallowing a postassium cyanide capsule. Here’s his body:
- 1968 – Vietnam War: Student protesters at Columbia University in New York City take over administration buildings and shut down the university.
- 1985 – Coca-Cola changes its formula and releases New Coke. The response is overwhelmingly negative, and the original formula is back on the market in less than three months.
The lesson: don’t monkey with a popular and well-established brand.
- 2005 – The first ever YouTube video, titled “Me at the zoo“, was published by co-founder Jawed Karim.
Here’s that very first YouTube video:
Notables born on this day include:
- 1621 – William Penn, English admiral and politician (d. 1670)
- 1813 – Stephen A. Douglas, American educator and politician, 7th Illinois Secretary of State (d. 1861)
- 1858 – Max Planck, German physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1947)
Here’s a brief video biography of Planck:
- 1901 – E. B. Ford, English biologist and geneticist (d. 1988)
Ford (photo below) was influential but a twit and a HUGE misogynist. I’m told by those who took his classes that he would not answer questions asked by women when they raised their hands. And here’s a possibly apocryphal anecdote from Wikipedia:
Professor Ford would come into first year biology lectures at Oxford University – which were quite large, with about 150 students, and address the mixed group “good morning gentlemen”, ignoring the ladies, who even at that time were maybe 30% of student numbers – they are now 48%. The students thought that was amusing, and decided that, for one lecture in 1965, no men would attend. So he walked in to the lecture theatre with about 50 women sitting there waiting attentively, but no men. He put his notes on the lectern and looked up. “Oh dear, nobody here today I see, might as well go home”! Picked up his notes and walked out. (This story is also told of Arthur Quiller Couch, and has to be treated as apocryphal)(It is not apocryphal – I was there, but will verify with other Agriculture students 1964-67, Jon Cook}.
- 1928 – Shirley Temple, American actress, singer, dancer, and diplomat (d. 2014)
- 1936 – Roy Orbison, American singer-songwriter (d. 1988)
- 1954 – Michael Moore, American director, producer, and activist
- 1968 – Timothy McVeigh, American terrorist, Oklahoma City bombing co-perpetrator (d. 2001)
Those who cashed in their chips on April 23 include:
- 1616 – William Shakespeare, English playwright and poet (b. 1564)
Here is the baptismal record of Shakespeare, still in existence. I’ve outlined what I think is the name.
And here’s the burial record; again, I’ve outlined what looks like his name:
- 1850 – William Wordsworth, English poet and author (b. 1770)
- 1915 – Rupert Brooke, English poet (b. 1887)
- 1992 – Satyajit Ray, Indian director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1921)
Ray was a very great director, but not to everyone’s taste (if you love India, as I do, you’ll be more likely to appreciate him). Here’s one of his very short films (12-minutes) called “Two”. It was made in 1964 and has no words in it.
- 1998 – James Earl Ray, American assassin of Martin Luther King Jr. (b. 1928)
- 2007 – Boris Yeltsin, Russian politician, 1st President of Russia (b. 1931)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili quotes Spinoza; the phrase means, “God is nature.” Oxford Reference says this: “The slogan of Spinoza’s pantheism: the view that god and nature are interchangeable, or that there is no distinction between the creator and the creation.”
Hili: Did Spinoza have a cat?A: Why do you ask?Hili: I wonder about him saying “Deus sive natura”.
Hili: Czy Spinoza miał kota?Ja: Dlaczego pytasz?Hili: Zastanawiam się nad tym jego powiedzeniem Deus sive natura.
Kulka and Szaron are playing outside:
From The English Language Police (a site you should join):
From Bruce. As an unruly child, I was sometimes taken out in public on a leash, and I tell you—it still traumatizes me.
Here are graphs showing the increased frequency of attention to race by the New York Times; the trend holds for both whites and blacks:
1/n No, the NYT (and likely other outlets) didn't always do this (i.e., '[Name of person], who is white…') to the same extent that they have over the past decade or so. pic.twitter.com/wHB0hXs3r4
— Zach Goldberg (@ZachG932) April 22, 2021
3/3 Addendum: https://t.co/oCUVVwoGBL
— Zach Goldberg (@ZachG932) April 22, 2021
From Gregory, who alerted me to an entire Twitter site devoted to bodega cats. Can you spot the moggy in this first tweet?
Where’s Waldo? https://t.co/VGmp6iyAFN
— Bodega Cats (@Bodegacats_) April 22, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. Anyone who owns a cat knows this behavior:
Cat: “Can I go out now?”
Me: “You literally just came in!”
Cat: “Yeah. But I want to check that I still don’t want to go out there. Don’t go far.” pic.twitter.com/INPImLIEqn
— Tom Sutcliffe (@tds153) April 22, 2021
Matthew, a nonbeliever, nevertheless sent two religious tweets. The first one was posted in honor of the Feast of St. Anselm two days ago:
Anselm once saved a hare from a pack of hounds that had been chasing it. "There is no laughing, no merry-making, for this unhappy beast. His enemies stand round about him, and in fear of his life he flees to us asking for help."
And so Anselm helped him. https://t.co/FYsoV8nwJS
— Tom Holland (@holland_tom) April 21, 2021
Matthew also sent this famous Biblical tale of God overreacting to mockery. When I told Matthew that this shows God at his worst, he responded, “No, it shows HE LOVES THE BALD AND RIGHTEOUS.”
Lol, for behold: Matthew himself is somewhat depilated.
I dunno, maybe this Bible business has something going for it, after all. pic.twitter.com/xc0KfRACRy
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) April 21, 2021
Ah, I haven’t taken a train from Union Station (a classic on its own) for ages:
Illinois Central GP9 #9201 departs one of Chicago's great terminals, Central Station, with train #21, the "Governor's Special" (Chicago – Springfield), days before Amtrak's launch in late April of 1971. Henry Butz photo. pic.twitter.com/yTH6ke312x
— American-Rails.com (@americanrails) April 20, 2021
Seen any springtails lately? I doubt it!
Collembolan courtship. Rather immature Sminthurides aquaticus springtails, practicing their courtship dance routine by our garden pond today. Both ~0.5mm long. They link antennae and the male gets lifted off the ground. pic.twitter.com/hoB6q1YRIK
— Ed Phillips (@Ed_P_Wildlife) April 19, 2021