News of the Day:
The Democratic Party is slowly turning, as I thought it might, from support of Israel to support of Palestine. Although I may be wrong, I don’t think so. We’ll discuss this later today.
If this headline from the South Bend Tribune doesn’t prompt you to read the article, you are incurious! Do read it; it’s a fascinating piece of biology. (Click on screenshot to get to article; h/t Jean):
A defendant in North Dakota, convicted of trying to run over seven Native American children in his S.U.V., was convicted of one crime in court, and, before being taken into custody, cut his own throat with a plastic instrument and died in the courtroom. Fortunately, the jury had left the courtroom, but the judge and bailiffs were there.
Darwin’s Arch, a formation in the Galapagos, has collapsed. It was, of course, entropy (erosion). Here’s what it used to look like:
His arch may collapse, but his theory stands strong!
There will be no real news today, i.e. stuff about international affairs, which I find depressing. We have Alternative (but not fake) news.
Finally, what happened to Sinead O’Connor after she tore up a photo of the pope on Saturday Night Live in 1992? Already a renegade, this gesture made her career go down the toilet (it’s just the Pope, for crying out loud!). Her life has since been unsettled, as a fascinating New York Times profile reveals. She was physically abused as a child, spent six years in and out of mental-health facilities, and has now converted to Islam (her new name is Shuhada Sadaqat. And she’s written a new memoir (out June 1) called Rememberings—the excuse for the profile.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 586,824, an increase of about 1,000 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,419,984, an increase of about 15,300 over yesterday’s total.:
Stuff that happened on May 19 includes:
- 1535 – French explorer Jacques Cartier sets sail on his second voyage to North America with three ships, 110 men, and Chief Donnacona’s two sons (whom Cartier had kidnapped during his first voyage).
- 1536 – Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII of England, is beheaded for adultery, treason, and incest.
- 1743 – Jean-Pierre Christin developed the centigrade temperature scale.
- 1780 – New England’s Dark Day, an unusual darkening of the day sky, was observed over the New England states and parts of Canada.
This is attributed to smoke from forest fires.
- 1911 – Parks Canada, the world’s first national park service, is established as the Dominion Parks Branch under the Department of the Interior.
- 1919 – Mustafa Kemal Atatürk lands at Samsun on the Anatolian Black Sea coast, initiating what is later termed the Turkish War of Independence.
Atatürk is sort of a hero of mine for secularizing Turkey and instituting many reforms, but I suppose they’ll one day find that he was irreparably immoral. At any rate, here he is in 1925:
- 1962 – A birthday salute to U.S. President John F. Kennedy takes place at Madison Square Garden, New York City. The highlight is Marilyn Monroe‘s rendition of “Happy Birthday“.
Here’s that salacious rendition, with Monroe introduced by Peter Lawford:
- 1963 – The New York Post Sunday Magazine publishes Martin Luther King Jr.‘s Letter from Birmingham Jail.
I’d highly recommend you reading this letter by Dr. King;you can find it here.
- 2018 – The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is held at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, with an estimated global audience of 1.9 billion.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1795 – Johns Hopkins, American businessman and philanthropist (d. 1873)
- 1861 – Nellie Melba, Australian soprano and actress (d. 1931)
Here’s Melba, one of the most renowned singers of her day, also gave the name to the dessert Peach Melba, as well as to Melba Toast. Here she is in 1907:
- 1881 – Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (official birthday), Turkish field marshal and statesman, 1st President of Turkey (d. 1938)
Notice that the Turkish War of Independence began on Atatürk’s birthday.
- 1914 – Max Perutz, Austrian-English biologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2002)
- 1925 – Pol Pot, Cambodian general and politician, 29th Prime Minister of Cambodia (d. 1998)
- 1925 – Malcolm X, American minister and activist (d. 1965)
Here’s Malcolm X on television in 1965, the year he was assassinated (he was only 39).
Those who became the Dearly Departed on May 19 include:
- 1536 – Anne Boleyn, Queen of England (1533–1536); second wife of Henry VIII of England (b. c. 1501)
- 1795 – James Boswell, Scottish biographer (b. 1740)
- 1935 – T. E. Lawrence, British colonel and archaeologist (b. 1888)
Another one of my heroes: a man of both thought and action, tortured though he was:
Here’s “Cloud’s Hill”, the cottage he inhabited while working for the RAF under a pseudonym. He was on the way home when he died in a motorcycle crash. I visited the place and took this photo in 2006.
- 1971 – Ogden Nash, American poet (b. 1902)
- 1994 – Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, American journalist, 37th First Lady of the United States (b. 1929)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Szaron and Hili have their portraits taken:
Hili: Fotografują nas.Szaron: Widzę.
And we have a Mietek monologue! Malgorzata says that Mitek is referring to a special brand of Polish woo: Sylwoterapia – therapy by trees and forest, a branch of pseudomedicine.
Mietek: A bit of tree therapy will not do any harm.
Several readers sent me this very clever xkcd cartoon, which is a pretty good explanation of Muller’s ratchet, an explanation for the inevitable mutational/drift degeneration of chromosomes that can’t recombine out their bad alleles, and thus perhaps a stimulus for the evolution of recombination (sex and crossing-over of chromosomes). Reader Rick notes that if you hover your mouse over the original cartoon, a secret message appears.
This is true; see the article by George Will here.
From Stephen: Soylent green is PEOPLE!
Titania’s comment about Shania Twain is very clever, if I get what she’s trying to say here:
This is a good start, but realistically there’ll be no chance of peace in the Middle East until we get a written statement from Shania Twain. pic.twitter.com/Bf9rTwqWDn
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) May 18, 2021
A tweet from Simon showing a very clever billboard:
Read the fine print 😉 pic.twitter.com/RnH5bOQs6L
— Christina (@renissance_1) May 17, 2021
A tweet from Orli. The explicit politicization of scientific research is beginning.
American Psychology Association moves towards having "positionality statements" appear on its "scientific" peer reviewed publications. https://t.co/ne67lLA0wp
What, you ask, is a "Positionality Statement"?
Its right out of CRT/intersectionality/GS/AppliedPoMo:
— The Dread Pirate Jussim (@PsychRabble) May 1, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. Here’s an OCD cat:
Kneading and squeaky purring. It takes him fifteen minutes to get comfy and if you interrupt him he has to start over.
— Elizabeth Bear (@matociquala) May 18, 2021
A lovely Scottish rainbow:
Saw the most bizarre rainbow 🌈 today over the Sound of Mull
It was both huge and flat !?!
It covered the mountains was very weird! pic.twitter.com/BHw3vVnTJi
— Oliver C Wright (@OW_Photography) May 18, 2021
Excellent life advice!
Be as determined as this little raccoon trying to get a marshmallow. pic.twitter.com/JbfYfgq9B7
— Jessica Christian (@jachristian) May 18, 2021
Here’s a tweet that puts history into perspective:
Mammoths were still walking the earth when this grasshopper weight was hand-carved almost 4000 years ago in bronze age Babylonia. C.1800 BCE. 🦣 pic.twitter.com/2z9U12xfix
— Across the Ages Podcast (@_AcrossTheAges) May 17, 2021
Yes, everything is terrible—except for this rodent having a feast.
Everything is terrible so here's a mouse having a picnic.
📹: Reddit user jackennethfn pic.twitter.com/DiSNbxlSd6
— Paul Bronks (@SlenderSherbet) May 18, 2021