Good morning on a chilly and rainy Sunday, May 9, 2021: National Coconut Cream Pie Day. It’s also Mother’s Day, with the apostrophe implying the celebration of only a single mother (shouldn’t it be either “Mothers Day” or “Mothers’ Day”?), National Butterscotch Brownie Day, Lost Sock Memorial Day (where do they go?), and National Moscato Day, celebrating a wine that is often dire but can be superb.
Google celebrates Mother’s Day with a gif that links to tips on how to celebrate (click on screenshot):
News of the Day:
The New York Times reported that a bomb placed outside a girls’ school in Kabul, Afghanistan (most likely by the Taliban) killed at least thirty and wounded dozens more yesterday; but last night’s evening news reports the death toll of over fifty. What kind of filthy, misogynistic pig would try to kill women for trying to learn? The only thing that was heartening about this reprehensible act was the interviews with the wounded girls in hospital, one who said that she was going to become a doctor no matter who tried to stop her.
By the time you read this (I’m writing on Saturday), the remnants of the Chinese rocket booster will likely have struck Earth as it tumbles to the surface. It’s unlikely someone will be hurt, even though the pieces could be sizable (up to 200 pounds!), as there’s a 70% chance the debris will land on water. Still, there’s a not negligible chance that some debris could land in an inhabited area. I will give a free autographed copy of WEIT to anyone who is struck but survives.
UPDATE: CNN reports that most of the booster burned up, but some landed near the Maldives. It’s unclear whether any debris hit the island. CNN also says that “NASA has lambasted China for its failure to ‘meet responsible standards’ after debris from its out-of-control rocket likely plunged into the Indian Ocean Saturday night.” As if the Chinese will pay any attention!
Also in the NYT, Liz Cheney, soon to be deposed as a Republican House leader for her opposition to Trump, is the subject of a column by Frank Bruni, who tells us (as if we didn’talready know) that Cheney has a record of diehard conservative voting. No, she’s not perfect (a “perfect Republican” is an oxymoron), but she’s sure as hell better than Mitch McConnell. Bruni ends with a moment of charity:
But Americans deserve the truth, and Cheney, not McCarthy [the House Minority leader], is telling it. So she can’t be discounted as a villain having a rare good-ethics day, just as she shouldn’t be anointed St. Liz. She refuses our tidy categories. How frustrating. How human.
Great: South Carolina is bringing back the electric chair, which seems to be one of the cruelest ways to execute anyone. Because of a lack of lethal-injection drugs, the state hasn’t killed anyone in over a decade, and so the new bill, passed by the state legislature, allows death row inmates to choose between the electric chair and a firing squad. The article will also tell you how that state executed 14-year-old George Stinney, Jr. in a gruesome spectacle, a boy later exonerated of the murders for which he was convicted. (The jury deliberated all of ten minutes.) There’s a 22-minute YouTube reenactment of this tragedy here. And here’s 14-year-old Stinney’s mug shot, taken the year he was executed. Because he was too small for the electric chair, he had to sit on a Bible as he was executed.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 581,056, an increase of 675 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,298,072, an increase of about 12,300 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on May 9 include:
- 1662 – The figure who later became Mr. Punch makes his first recorded appearance in England.
Wikipedia notes this: “The Punch and Judy show has roots in the 16th-century Italian commedia dell’arte. The figure of Punch is derived from the Neapolitan stock character of Pulcinella, which was anglicized to Punchinello. He is a variation on the same themes as the Lord of Misrule and the many Trickster figures found in mythologies across the world. Punch’s wife was originally called “Joan.”
Here’s Mr. Punch:
- 1671 – Thomas Blood, disguised as a clergyman, attempts to steal England’s Crown Jewels from the Tower of London.
- 1726 – Five men arrested during a raid on Mother Clap‘s molly house in London are executed at Tyburn.
A molly house is where gay men met to find partners. Sodomy was a capital offense in England until 1861, and the men were executed for “buggery.” And people say that we haven’t advanced in morality?
- 1926 – Admiral Richard E. Byrd and Floyd Bennett claim to have flown over the North Pole (later discovery of Byrd’s diary appears to cast some doubt on the claim.)
Here’s the plane that supposedly flew over the Pole. Now that feat seems dubious:
- 1942 – The Holocaust in Ukraine: The SS executes 588 Jewish residents of the Podolian town of Zinkiv (Khmelnytska oblast. The Zoludek Ghetto (in Belarus) is destroyed and all its inhabitants executed or deported.
- 1945 – World War II: The final German Instrument of Surrender is signed at the Soviet headquarters in Berlin-Karlshorst.
Here’s the last page of that instrument of surrender:
- 1960 – The Food and Drug Administration announces it will approve birth control as an additional indication for Searle’s Enovid, making Enovid the world’s first approved oral contraceptive pill.
- 1974 – Watergate scandal: The United States House Committee on the Judiciary opens formal and public impeachment hearings against President Richard Nixon.
- 1979 – Iranian Jewish businessman Habib Elghanian is executed by firing squad in Tehran, prompting the mass exodus of the once 100,000-strong Jewish community of Iran.
Notables born on May 9 include:
- 1860 – J. M. Barrie, Scottish novelist and playwright (d. 1937)
Barrie was most famous for creating Peter Pan. Here he is (Barrie, not Pan):
Carter is of course the man who discovered and excavated King Tut’s tomb. Here he is opening Tut’s coffin in 1922:
And two rebels born on the same day:
- 1921 – Daniel Berrigan, American priest, poet, and activist (d. 2016)
- 1921 – Sophie Scholl, German activist (d. 1943)
A tweet sent by Matthew about Sophie Scholl, beheaded in 1943 along with her brother and a comrade for opposing the Nazis. Sophie was only 21.
Tomorrow, May 9, would have been Sophie Scholl's 100th birthday. Discover her story of courage and resistance in our podcast episode about the White Rose movement, formed with her brother, Hans, and other college students in Germany. #SophieSchollhttps://t.co/kyoar6A9Dr
— US Holocaust Museum (@HolocaustMuseum) May 8, 2021
- 1927 – Manfred Eigen, German chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2019)
- 1949 – Billy Joel, American singer-songwriter and pianist
Here’s Joel explaining his hit “PIano Man” at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre in 1994:
Those who died on May 9 include:
- 1931 – Albert Abraham Michelson, German-American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1852)
- 1977 – James Jones, American novelist (b. 1921)
- 1986 – Tenzing Norgay, Nepalese mountaineer (b. 1914)
Tenzing and Hillary, the first people to summit Everest:
- 2010 – Lena Horne, American singer, actress, and activist (b. 1917)
Here’s Horne doing her timeless hit, “Stormy Weather,” and I believe that Cab Calloway is conducting the orchestra:
- 2020 – Little Richard, American singer, songwriter, and pianist (b. 1932)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Paulina shows Kulka to Hili on the windowsill. Hili doesn’t like it, but at least she’s not hissing! You can see Szaron lounging on his blanket to the left.
Hili: What are you doing on my windowsill?Kulka: I’m looking at you fuming.
Hili: Co ty robisz na moim parapecie?Kulka: Patrzę jak się złościsz.
Here’s a picture of Kulka taken by Andrzej:
From Linda, a new Pearls before Swine cartoon:
From Facebook via Alex:
From Jesus of the Day:
Titania keeps pace with the ever-changing list of Approved Words:
✅ “Birthing person”
✅ “Offspring with a cervix”
✅ “Bipedal gestation unit”
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) May 7, 2021
From Luana: Walt Disney has gotten into the heavy-duty antiracism business. Here are two tweets, but there are more:
Next, participants are asked to complete a “white privilege checklist”: “I am white,” I am heterosexual,” “I am a man,” “I still identity as the gender I was born in,” “I have never been raped,” “I don’t rely on public transportation,” and “I have never been called a terrorist.” pic.twitter.com/hcTVp9Tnz1
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) May 8, 2021
From Simon, who really wants this sign. Grammar and punctuation matter!
Being a good lab citizen pic.twitter.com/0FFgRICJ61
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) May 6, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. This whole thread has some amazing feats of bird migration:
While #Covid19 appeared. A female Common Crane was satellite tagged in March'20 near Nal Sarovar in India.
— Parveen Kaswan, IFS (@ParveenKaswan) May 8, 2021
A lovely glass sculpture of a tarantula:
Greenbottle blue tarantula (Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens) – Borosilicate Glass Sculpture by Rafael Glass
— Rafael Glass (@resd2013) April 4, 2021
New life: a lamb is born. This guy really knows what he’s doing!
— James Rebanks (@herdyshepherd1) May 8, 2021
Tweet of the week!
The monkeys have taken over a resort in Mahabaleshwar, India during lockdown… pic.twitter.com/8Gd4J3mNbN
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) May 7, 2021