Grease the new day (as a friend used to say)! It’s Thursday, April 29, 2021: National Shrimp Scampi Day (that’s a dish I’ve never had). It’s also National Zipper Day (this convenient fastener was patented on this day in 1913) and Viral Video Day. In honor of the last day, here are the 25 most viral videos of 2020. #2, near the end, is the best!
Finally, it’s two UN holidays: Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare and International Dance Day (UNESCO).
Wine of the Day: To drink with my big pot of turkey chili, which should last a few days, I’ve chosen one of my favorite genres of red wine: Rioja! This one, ten years from vintage was about $25.
The experts’ ratings look good, and I’m writing this on Wednesday before I’ve cracked the bottle.
2 hours later (Wednesday), very good again, but not a world-beater. Juicy with ripe cherry fruit, well balanced, but nothing to mark it as a superb wine. I’ll drink another two glasses tonight and see if it improves.
News of the Day:
Joe Biden gave his first speech to Congress last evening, proposing sweeping reforms. Hold your thoughts on that, as we’ll have a discussion post later.
The Supreme Court is considering an important free-speech case in which a high school cheerleader, not chosen to be part of the elite “varsity squad”, ranted and cursed the school on social media. What she said:
“F— school, f— softball, f— cheer, f— everything,” 14-year-old Brandi Levy typed into Snapchat one spring Saturday. Like all “snaps” posted to a Snapchat “story,” this one sent to about 250 “friends” was to disappear within 24 hours, before everyone returned to Pennsylvania’s Mahanoy Area High School on Monday.
Levy was suspended from her junior varsity squad for a year, whereupon her parents filed suit in federal court, and it’s gone all the way up to the Supremes. I think they’re likely to rule in her favor, as Levy’s “speech” was on social media, so why should she be punished for her private free speech? This is not harassment, bullying, or any other form of speech prohibited by the First Amendment. But it’s not a trivial case:
“This is the most momentous case in more than five decades involving student speech,” said Justin Driver, a Yale law professor and author of “The Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind.”
The Court may be conservative, but if it rules in Levy’s favor in this case, I think it will have ruled properly. This kind of incident will become increasingly frequent as speech is disseminated on social media.
The feds searched Rudy Giluiani’s home and office yesterday, acting on a federal warrant. As the New York Times reports,
The federal authorities have largely focused on whether Mr. Giuliani illegally lobbied the Trump administration in 2019 on behalf of Ukrainian officials and oligarchs, who at the time were helping Mr. Giuliani search for damaging information on Mr. Trump’s political rivals, including Mr. Biden, who was then a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The United States attorney’s office in Manhattan and the F.B.I. had sought for months to secure search warrants for Mr. Giuliani’s phones and electronic devices.
Reader Ken, who knows his law, told me this:
To secure such warrants, the government would have had to establish, to a federal magistrate’s satisfaction, fresh probable cause to believe that the search would yield evidence of a crime. The agents reportedly seized Giuliani’s computers and electronic devices.
. . . The search of a lawyer’s premises (not to mention the premises of a lawyer for a former US President) is a big friggin’ deal. See section 9-13.430 of the US Justice Department Manual. Main Justice has to sign off on it, and the government had to be convinced that Giuliani couldn’t be trusted to turn over the materials sought in response to a subpoena.
On a sadder note, astronaut Michael Collins, who stayed in the command module during the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon, and who helped ensure tht the lunar module containing Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin docked properly before their return to Earth, died yesterday at 90 of cancer. He wrote extensively about his journal (they trained for six years for the mission), and memorial tweets show some of his writing:
Ad astra, @AstroMCollins, heroic solo passenger of Apollo 11’s command module. The Earth is an emptier place today without him.
Here’s a brief thread of some favorite Collins comments on his mission, the space program, and the Moon pic.twitter.com/uB0q5On1tm
— Rebecca 🌕 Boyle (@rboyle31) April 28, 2021
Probably the most famous line from Collins’ lovely, lyrical memoir, “Carrying the Fire”
“I am alone now, truly alone. I am it. If a count were taken, the score would be 3 billion plus 2 over on the other side of the Moon, and one plus God only knows what on this side.” pic.twitter.com/Zg92Le9yzs
— Rebecca 🌕 Boyle (@rboyle31) April 28, 2021
This is a touching photo and caption:
— Jonathan Corum (@13pt) April 28, 2021
There are two big vertebrate genome papers in Nature. One paper reports complete genome sequences of 16 vertebrate species in the 8 major lineages, and the other reports a complete sequence for the playtpus and partial sequence of one echidna species, both monotremes—egg-laying mammals. I have yet to read either paper but wanted to call them to your attention. (h/t: Matthew)
Stuff that happened on April 29 includes:
- 1429 – Joan of Arc arrives to relieve the Siege of Orléans.
- 1770 – James Cook arrives in Australia at Botany Bay, which he names.
- 1910 – The Parliament of the United Kingdom passes the People’s Budget, the first budget in British history with the expressed intent of redistributing wealth among the British public.
- 1916 – Easter Rising: After six days of fighting, Irish rebel leaders surrender to British forces in Dublin, bringing the Easter Rising to an end.
Here’s a 6½-minute BBC video summarizing the Easter Rising:
- 1945 – World War II: Führerbunker: Adolf Hitler marries his longtime partner Eva Braun in a Berlin bunker and designates Admiral Karl Dönitz as his successor; Hitler and Braun both commit suicide the following day.
- 1945 – Dachau concentration camp is liberated by United States troops.
- 1967 – After refusing induction into the United States Army the previous day, Muhammad Ali is stripped of his boxing title.
Here’s a short video about Ali’s refusal of induction. He had applied for conscientious objector status but was refused. After a trial, he was sentenced to five years in jail but remained free until the Supreme Court overturned that decision on the grounds that the refusal of CO status was not accompanied by a reason.
- 1968 – The controversial musical Hair, a product of the hippie counter-culture and sexual revolution of the 1960s, opens at the Biltmore Theatre on Broadway, with some of its songs becoming anthems of the anti-Vietnam War movement.
- 1970 – Vietnam War: United States and South Vietnamese forces invade Cambodia to hunt Viet Cong.
The invasion of Cambodia energized all of us in college, leading to widespread protests and, at Kent State, to the shooting of unarmed students.
- 1974 – Watergate scandal: United States President Richard Nixon announces the release of edited transcripts of White House tape recordings relating to the scandal.
- 1992 – Riots in Los Angeles, following the acquittal of police officers charged with excessive force in the beating of Rodney King. Over the next three days 63 people are killed and hundreds of buildings are destroyed.
This was the first time video was taken of a brutal police beating of a suspect. You can see it below, and yet the officers were acquitted. This would never stand today:
- 2015 – A baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox sets the all-time low attendance mark for Major League Baseball. Zero fans were in attendance for the game, as the stadium was officially closed to the public due to the 2015 Baltimore protests.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1854 – Henri Poincaré, French mathematician, physicist, and engineer (d. 1912)
- 1893 – Harold Urey, American chemist and astronomer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1981)
- 1899 – Duke Ellington, American pianist, composer, and bandleader (d. 1974)
There aren’t a lot of videos of Ellington’s band, particularly in its best years—the early forties. This one, of his signature tune “Take the A Train” (written by Billy Strayhorn), was made in 1943. I prefer the all-instrumental version. I’m reading a biography of Ellington now.
- 1929 – Walter Kempowski, German author and academic (d. 2007)
- 1933 – Willie Nelson, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, and actor
- 1945 – Brian Charlesworth, English biologist, geneticist, and academic
My colleague and former chairman of my department, Brian is now retired but still very active at Edinburgh. He was a great colleague (we wrote some papers together) and an excellent chair:
- 1954 – Jerry Seinfeld, American comedian, actor, and producer
- 1957 – Daniel Day-Lewis, British-Irish actor
- 1970 – Andre Agassi, American tennis player
- 1970 – Uma Thurman, American actress
Those who went to their Just Reward on April 29 include:
Don’t ask me to explain Wittgenstein’s philosophy; that’s above my pay grade. But I can show you a photo:
- 1980 – Alfred Hitchcock, English-American director and producer (b. 1899)
- 2008 – Albert Hofmann, Swiss chemist and academic (b. 1906)
- 2014 – Bob Hoskins, English actor (b. 1942)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is concerned with enforcing the rules. As Malgozata notes,
This old sign says: “It’s forbidden to dump tires under the penalty of shooting your brains out”. It’s written in a “slangy” language. We found it many years ago on a dump outside a closed, abandoned and ruined factory.
Ja: Na co patrzysz?
Hili: Sprawdzam, czy ludzie nie łamią zakazów.
And we have a Leon monologue!
Leon: “What kind of wonder of nature is this?”
Here’s little Kulka:
A meme from Bruce:
From Facebook via Mark: the Jean-Paul Sartre Parking Garage. But how can you pay if you don’t exist?
From Su: A duck trying to connect with the Beyond:
Tulsi Gabbard, who surely counts as a woman of color, here decries the increasing racialization of America, using the Hawaiian conception of “aloha”:
Please, let us stop the RACIALIZATION of everyone and everything. We are all children of God, and therefore family in the truest sense, no matter our race or ethnicity. This is aloha – love & respect for others. This is what our country & the world need. pic.twitter.com/W8wqqMj1jf
— Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) April 25, 2021
From Facebook. It’s time to do our occasional check-in with Iranian women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad. Here’s her reaction (yes, it’s on Fox News) to Iran being chosen to be a member of the UN Commission on Women’s Rights. (The UN is such a joke these days!):
Tweets from Matthew. I believe I’ve posted about Ricky Gervais adopting a foster tabby that he named “Pickles”, but here’s a tweet and some new video:
— The Dodo (@dodo) April 28, 2021
From the University of Chicago! Two days ago the temperature was about 82°F (28°C), and it was glorious. But they should have included a photo of Botany Pond with the ducks!
A picture-perfect spring day at #UChicago.
— The University of Chicago (@UChicago) April 27, 2021
Donkeys run free after a winter of being cooped up. Sound up so you can hear as well as see their joy:
Donkey delight! It’s not just us humans who have been enjoying the recent fine weather pic.twitter.com/uZxcd2Sg5R
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) April 27, 2021
This link would make good background music while you’re working; it’s almost like working in the jungle:
For your listening pleasure: DrongoJukebox, an ever-changing soundscape radio station comprised of wildlife sounds recorded in Singapore https://t.co/Wifs7S5v0h
— Prof Dolly Jørgensen (@DollyJorgensen) April 28, 2021
This looks to me like a very small slug getting a drink (and getting engulfed by a water drop):
And now for something completely different pic.twitter.com/D243P5FTBh
— spamdemic (@spamnugget) April 27, 2021