Good morning on Cat Sabbath: May 22, 2021: National Vanilla Pudding Day. (That reminds me of Bill Cosby, who used to advertise Jell-O puddings but is now in jail.) It’s also Italian Beef Day (a sandwich best consumed in Chicago), United States National Maritime Day, Harvey Milk Day in California (see below), International Day for Biological Diversity, World Goth Day, and Canadian Immigrants Day.
News of the Day:
Jerrold Nadler, a senior Jewish congressman and chair of the House Judiciary Committee, maintains in a NYT editorial that “Democrats have not changed their position on Israel.” An excerpt
But the vast majority of Democrats are thoughtful and considerate, and recognize nuance in a conflict shaded by centuries of complexity, suffering and pain, and this has always been the case. We know that the only solution is one where both Jewish and Palestinian people have the right to self-determination and security. We support the humanity of both parties in the conflict as well as small-d democratic values. And we stand resolutely against attacks on Israel’s right to exist. Really, this moment reflects a coming out of the silent majority of American Jews whose values are both liberal and supportive of Israel, as a recent Pew study indicates.
As the most senior Jewish member in the House of Representatives, a longtime Congressional Progressive Caucus leader and the House member who represents the largest and most diverse Jewish population, I’m more familiar with this issue than most. The Democratic Party, of course, welcomes robust debate. However, the conversations I have had with a wide range of members of my party, including many of the 25 Jewish Democrats in the House as well as a number of progressives, reflect a reality that the headlines do not: On Israel, there exists a broad, mainstream consensus around a number of core principles.
Would that he were right, but I don’t quite buy it. Israel’s right to exist? Did he also talk to members of the Squad? Bernie Sanders? One of my biggest sources of stress these past few weeks is watch the Democratic Left, almost predictably, move the needly slowly away from Israel’s right to exist toward Hamas, which denies that right. I still don’t quite understand it.
Speaking of which, have a look at Peter Savodnik’s new analysis (on Bari Weiss’s Substack site) of why America has suddenly become so much more anti-Semitic (click on screenshot):
Over the past two decades, this obsession with identity has intensified and spread. Progressives are now incapable of talking about anything important without mentioning human beings’ immutable traits.
Any politics of identity was bad for the Jew. On the right, the identiarians said that the Jew lacked whiteness — it was a new version of the old Nazi claim about our impurity. On the left, the Jew was said to have too much.
In 2021, we are well-aware of the white-nationalist inanities. We have memorized the horrific footage from Charlottesville. We remember every Jew murdered in Pittsburgh and in Poway.
But their chants of “Jews Will Not Replace Us” are now being joined by the identitarians of the left, who wield vastly more capital and power, in government, in the media, in the universities, in Hollywood, and in Silicon Valley. (It’s curious that Rep. Rashida Tlaib has accused Israel of “forced population replacement.”) Together, they form a bleating chorus of grievances. Somehow their roster of The Hurt never includes the Jew.
How can you not want to read the answer to Michelle Goldberg’s title question in her new NYT op-ed (click on screenshot)?
And, surprisingly, her answer is “yes”, based not only on Hitchens’s work but mainly on a “compelling new podcast,” “The Turning: The Sisters Who Left,” about those who left Mother Teresa’s order. An excerpt:
What makes “The Turning” unique is its focus on the internal life of the Missionaries of Charity. The former sisters describe an obsession with chastity so intense that any physical human contact or friendship was prohibited; according to Johnson, Mother Teresa even told them not to touch the babies they cared for more than necessary. They were expected to flog themselves regularly — a practice called “the discipline” — and were allowed to leave to visit their families only once every 10 years.
Joe Biden handed out the first Medal of Honor of his administration to a 94-year old Korean war vet who got out of his wheelchair and discarded his walker to stand up and receive America’s highest military award. I’m not a big fan of war, but somehow the story of Col. Ralph Puckett, Jr. tugged a bit at my heart. Here’s a photo (click on it to go to the story):
The Wall Street Journal has a mouthwatering article on some of Italy’s best white wines, which are not too expensive (the examples given range from $19-$30). The tasting notes make me want to explore this genre, about which I know almost nothing.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 588,846, an increase of about 700 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,458,946, an increase of about 12,900 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on May 22 include:
- 760 – Fourteenth recorded perihelion passage of Halley’s Comet.
Fourteenth. As Wikipedia notes, the first certain appearance of the comet was in 240 BC from a Chinese record.
- 1455 – Start of the Wars of the Roses: At the First Battle of St Albans, Richard, Duke of York, defeats and captures King Henry VI of England.
- 1804 – The Lewis and Clark Expedition officially begins as the Corps of Discovery departs from St. Charles, Missouri.
- 1807 – A grand jury indicts former Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr on a charge of treason.
- 1826 – HMS Beagle departs on its first voyage.
This is not the voyage that carried Charles Darwin, which was the second (and last) voyage of the ship. Here’s a view of the ship, which was much smaller than you think:
And here’s that patent:
- 1960 – The Great Chilean earthquake, measuring 9.5 on the moment magnitude scale, hits southern Chile, becoming the most powerful earthquake ever recorded.
- 1964 – Lyndon B. Johnson launches the Great Society.
- 1987 – First ever Rugby World Cup kicks off with New Zealand playing Italy at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand.
- 1998 – A U.S. federal judge rules that U.S. Secret Service agents can be compelled to testify before a grand jury concerning the Lewinsky scandal involving President Bill Clinton.
- 2002 – Civil rights movement: A jury in Birmingham, Alabama, convicts former Ku Klux Klan member Bobby Frank Cherry of the 1963 murder of four girls in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.
Here’s the white supremacist and Klansman (Klansperson?) Cherry, who died in a prison hospital in 2004:
- 2010 – Inter Milan beat Bayern Munich 2–0 in the Uefa Champions League final in Madrid, Spain to become the first, and so far only, Italian team to win the historic treble (Serie A, Coppa Italia, Champions League).
- 2017 – Twenty-two people are killed at an Ariana Grande concert in the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing.
Notables born on this day include:
I couldn’t have told you what Wagner looked like, so I looked him up. Here’s a photo:
Here’s a fine Cassatt: “Sara holding a cat” (ca. 1908):
- 1859 – Arthur Conan Doyle, British writer (d. 1930)
- 1907 – Laurence Olivier, English actor, director, and producer (d. 1989)
- 1927 – Peter Matthiessen, American novelist, short story writer, editor, co-founded The Paris Review (d. 2014)
Matthiessen remains the only person to have won a National Book Award for both fiction and nonfiction. Here’s a brief remembrance:
- 1930 – Harvey Milk, American lieutenant and politician (d. 1978)
- 1942 – Ted Kaczynski, American academic and mathematician turned anarchist and serial murderer (Unabomber)
Those who croaked on May 22 include:
- 1802 – Martha Washington, First, First Lady of the United States (b. 1731)
- 1885 – Victor Hugo, French novelist, poet, and playwright (b. 1802)
- 1967 – Langston Hughes, American poet, social activist, novelist, and playwright (b. 1902)
Hughes was one of the black writers I read when I decided to read early 20th-century black literature and nonfiction as the pandemic started. Here’s his portrait by Gordon Parks:
- 1997 – Alfred Hershey, American biochemist and geneticist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1908)
- 2010 – Martin Gardner, American mathematician, cryptographer, and author (b. 1914)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Paulina is stalking all cats with her camera:
Hili: I thought that Paulina was hunting for Kulka.Szaron: For her every cat is tempting.(Photo: Paulina R.)
Hili: Myślałam, że Paulina poluje na Kulkę.Szaron: Każdy kot ją kusi.
And Leon and Mitek have an exchange:
Leon: Oatmeal for breakfast? Are we converting to vegetarianism?
From Woody; a most excellent meme:
From SMBC via Ginger K:
From Titania. I’m not sure exactly what this Lego kit is, or what it’s supposed to demonstrate:
Thank you @LEGO_Group for teaching kids that we must be strictly categorised according to group identity.✊
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) May 21, 2021
From Simon, who I hope doesn’t carry cats in his maw! Poor kitty!
Me in every conference picture ever pic.twitter.com/TAWpxWRtEX
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) May 20, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. If I posted this before, well, here it is again.
And a second and related tweet:
— John Adams (@jdadams100) May 11, 2021
Sadly, this was yesterday, and we won’t be alive to see its recurrence:
— Yadin Dudai 🏴🔥🏴 (@yadindudai) May 21, 2021
The discovery of drinkable cow excrement (the first one is clocks):
— Katie Hennessey (@kay_hennessey) May 9, 2021
Darwin was often depressed and lugubrious, as he was 153 years ago yesterday.
I have been working very hard, too hard, of late…and almost every day new subjects turn up, requiring investigation leading to endless letters & searches through books. #DarwinOnThisDay 21.5.1868 pic.twitter.com/ah4NXA81jQ
— Paige Madison (@FossilHistory) May 21, 2021