What? It’s Saturday again? That means I must come up with a Caturday felid. If you want to keep reading this feature, do let me know (a comment under today’s post will suffice), as I’ve contemplated deep-sixing it
. It’s April 24, 2021: National-Pigs-in-a-Blanket Day. Here’s a photo of this once-popular American appetizer, which is one appetizer I’m not keen on!
It’s also National Go Birding Day, Eeyore’s Birthday (my spirit animal!), World Day for Laboratory Animals, Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, Independent Bookstore Day, Save the Frogs Day, and World Veterinary Day.
Eeyore (and also me):
Yesterday’s Google Doodle celebrated the Spanish “ñ” with the tilde, as it was Spanish Language Day. C|Net gives a bit more information.
Friday’s Doodle, which celebrates UN Spanish Language Day, shows a highly stylized version of the company’s logo framed by a giant Ñ, also known as an eñe (pronounced EN-yay). Not only is it the only letter with a true Spanish origin, it’s also become a symbol for Hispanic heritage.
Click on the screenshot to see where the Doodle links.
News of the Day:
The Center for Effective Lawmaking, a nonpartisan organization that tracks how good federal legislators are at getting bills introduced and passed, has ranked all members of the U.S. House of Representatives and of the Senate in terms of their legislative “effectiveness score”. (They’re also separated by party.) Have a look at the lists. The most effective legislators—after all, their job is to get bills passed—are often not the big names you’ve heard about. For Republic Senators, Marco Rubio and Roger Wicker are the most productive, while for Democrats the top two are Gary Peters and Jeff Merkley. For Representatives, the top two Democrats are Nita Lowey and Peter DeFazio, and the top two Republicans are Michael McCaul and Christopher Smith. (Read this article to see how scores are determined.)
I was amused to see that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may be good at tweeting and promoting herself, but she’s lousy at lawmaking, as she’s eleventh from the bottom among all 218 Democratic Representatives. (Nancy Pelosi is even lower, but her job is running the House, not so much making laws.)
From the Guardian, we learn of yet another bizarre effect of climate change. Because of melting polar ice caps, the Earth’s axis of rotation is shifting over time:
The scientists found the direction of polar drift shifted from southward to eastward in 1995 and that the average speed of drift from 1995 to 2020 was 17 times faster than from 1981 to 1995.
Since 1980, the position of the poles has moved about 4 metres in distance.
“The accelerated decline [in water stored on land] resulting from glacial ice melting is the main driver of the rapid polar drift after the 1990s,” concluded the team, led by Shanshan Deng, from the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The downside? There isn’t one connected with the tilting, really, but the redistribution of water on Earth is just one more reminder of how humans are messing stuff up.
Also from the Guardian, we have the very first time that meteorites striking Earth have been traced back to their source. In 2018, a 6-ton asteroid broke up over the Kalahari, resulting in 21 fragments found in the desert. Using telescopic tracking, astronomers think it likely that the asteroid came from Vesta, a 525 km-wide asteroid about 233 million km from Earth. The fragments that hit Earth were probably from the larger asteroid, which was ejected after a collision of an astronomical body with Vesta about 22 million years ago (h/t: Jez)
Once again the ACLU disappoints. Look at this tweet from the Ohio branch:
The systems that allowed George Floyd to be murdered remain FULLY intact. Moments after we celebrated a win for police accountability in Minneapolis, news broke that @ColumbusPolice murdered a 15 year old Black girl. Her name was Ma'Khia Bryant. Say her name. #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/tufTaia9lR
— ACLU of Ohio (@acluohio) April 21, 2021
Let’s ignore the fact that Ma’Khia Bryant was actually 16, not 15, and look at the details of the case, in which she was shot just as she was about to plunge a knife into another girl, and after the cop had told her to drop the knife. This is NOT a George Floyd style case in which a cop behaved reprehensibly and dangerously. It’s a case in which a cop tried to save the life of someone being attacked. Bodycam video released by the police supports this exculpatory story, just as video supports the murderous actions of Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd. It’s very sad what’s happening to the ACLU, once an organization I admired to the point of idolatry. It now sees itself as promoting social justice, not defending civil liberties. But as a reader points out below, the comments on the ACLU’s tweet are almost uniformly negative—some quite scathing.
Back to Covid: the NYT tells us that the “excess death rate” in the U.S.—the death rate above what is expected—was the highest last year ever seen since data were recorded beginning around 1900, and even higher than that seen with the 1918 flu pandemic. Here are the data. The baseline is the expectation, with deviations above and below that in orange and gray, respectively:
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 570,746, an increase of 711 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now a 3,101,486, an increase of about 14,200 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on April 24 includes:
- 1183 BC – Traditional reckoning of the Fall of Troy marking the end of the legendary Trojan War, given by chief librarian of the Library of Alexandria Erastothenes, among others.
- 1704 – The first regular newspaper in British Colonial America, The Boston News-Letter, is published.
And here’s the first edition of the first newspaper:
- 1800 – The United States Library of Congress is established when President John Adams signs legislation to appropriate $5,000 to purchase “such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress”.
- 1895 – Joshua Slocum, the first person to sail single-handedly around the world, sets sail from Boston, Massachusetts aboard the sloop “Spray”.
He succeeded in his 37-foot oyster boat The Spray, though it took him three years to get home. He navigated entirely by dead reckoning, without a chronometer. Here’s his boat:
- 1914 – The Franck–Hertz experiment, a pillar of quantum mechanics, is presented to the German Physical Society.
Check the link; this was the first experiment to demonstrate that the energy in electrons was quantized.
- 1916 – Easter Rising: Irish rebels, led by Patrick Pearse and James Connolly, launch an uprising in Dublin against British rule and proclaim an Irish Republic.
Here’s the wreckage of Dublin’s General Post Office after the rising. 16 rebels were executed and 485 people were killed. Ireland did not gain independence until December, 1922.
- 1916 – Ernest Shackleton and five men of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition launch a lifeboat from uninhabited Elephant Island in the Southern Ocean to organise a rescue for the crew of the sunken Endurance.
This is one of the great adventure stories of all time. Shackleton made it to South Georgia, an island where there was a whaling station, and he helped organize the rescue of all his men. Everyone survived. Here’s a book that you should read about it. Here’s the crew of the Endurance before the ship was broken up by the pack ice:
Here’s Churchill after being knighted (by the present Queen!). I couldn’t find a photo of his being tapped with the sword. And I thought one didn’t shake hands with the Queen.
- 1967 – Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov dies in Soyuz 1 when its parachute fails to open. He is the first human to die during a space mission.
- 1990 – STS-31: The Hubble Space Telescope is launched from the Space Shuttle Discovery.
The Hubble is still chugging away and getting data after 31 years! Here’s a view of it in orbit, taken by a space shuttle sent up to service it. There have been five such missions, and the telescope may last another twenty years. It was a great investment!
Notables born on this day include:
- 1815 – Anthony Trollope, English novelist, essayist, and short story writer (d. 1882).
Trollope produced literature that imparted knowledge to us! We learn that some of the personality types present in universities depicted in his novels can still be recognized today!
- 1904 – Willem de Kooning, Dutch-American painter and educator (d. 1997)
I couldn’t find any cat paintings by Willem, but I found a photo of his wife Elaine, also an accomplished painter, holding a cat:
- 1906 – William Joyce, American-born Irish-British Nazi propaganda broadcaster (d. 1946)
Joyce was executed in 1946 for treason—the last person to be put to death in the UK for this crime.
- 1942 – Barbra Streisand, American singer, actress, activist, and producer
Babs! I love her! Here’s her rendition of “My Man” from Funny Girl (1968), which she sings after having just been dumped by Nicky Arnstein (she’s playing Fanny Brice). What a voice!
Those who cashed in their chips on April 24 include:
- 1731 – Daniel Defoe, English journalist, novelist, and spy (b. 1660)
- 1947 – Willa Cather, American novelist, short story writer, and poet (b. 1873)
- 1974 – Bud Abbott, American comedian and producer (b. 1895)
- 2004 – Estée Lauder, American businesswoman, co-founded Estée Lauder Companies (b. 1906)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili isn’t luring baby Kulka, and for nefarious purposes. (They’re actually getting along much better now, which is good because I still suspect they’re related.)
Kulka: What are you doing?Hili: I’m waiting for you to come closer.
Kulka: Co robisz?Hili: Czekam aż podejdziesz bliżej.
And here is little Kukla disporting herself in the yard:
From Bruce, who suspects that this may be a photoshop. I get at least one of these calls every day:
From Jesus of the Day:
From Titania. This shows how pathetic the UN has become.
I am delighted that the UN has elected Iran to this commission on women’s rights and gender equality.
With virtually ZERO prosecutions for domestic violence or misogynistic hate crime, Iran is a feminist paradise. 👏✊https://t.co/rwAJ27Wtcp
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) April 23, 2021
A tweet from Barry. I have NO idea what this is about except a guy trying to get a fledgling parrot to float on a pad in a swimming pool.
Gets us every time… (Sound on) 😆🔊 pic.twitter.com/lIq5F12lel
— Mack & Becky Comedy (@MackBeckyComedy) April 22, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. A trebuchet is an ancient catapult that uses a long arm to hurl a projectile. Here a dog has learned how to use it to play “auto fetch”.
Dog-operated trebuchet of the day. pic.twitter.com/Kgcv5tEkr7
— Dick King-Smith HQ (@DickKingSmith) September 23, 2020
Matthew is fluent in French, but still had an epiphany:
I was today years old when I realised that Bordeaux means “au bord d’eaux” – by the waters’ edge. Doh
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) April 23, 2021
Then he discovered his epiphany was wrong; we don’t know the origin of “Bordeaux.” This link gives some theories.
Live and learn for biologists. If you are referring to several species of a genus that you don’t identify, you say something like Drosophila spp.
I don't know who needs to hear this, but the second p in spp. stands for "plurimae", which is why sp. is singular and spp. is plural. 😅
— Dr. Brian Lovett (@lovettbr) April 19, 2021
What a great place to get vaccinated!
— M.-M. Mac Low (@astrocurator) April 19, 2021
Day 8: They suspect nothing. pic.twitter.com/xaB9hhxZ2d
— Paul Bronks (@SlenderSherbet) April 19, 2021
I may have posted this reently, but can’t be arsed to look it up. Besides, it’s funny enough to be seen twice.
Real advice from a veterinary training: pic.twitter.com/MmVzZkOMWG
— Moose (@LitMoose) April 18, 2021