Good morning on the cruelest of all weekdays: Tuesday, and May 25, 2021, to boot. It’s also National Wine Day and Geek Pride Day. as well as International Missing Children’s Day and National Missing Children’s Day (United States), as well as National Tap Dance Day and, in honor of Douglas Adams, Towel Day.
And it’s another Three Bun Day, as I saw three Eastern Cottontails on my walk to work. They don’t live very long, but nor are they aware of their mortality.
Wine of the Day: This bottle from Domaine Hippolyte Reverdy may be the first Sancerre I’ve had (it’s a French appellation with most whites made from sauvignon blanc). It’s not a wine I look for, and can’t remember buying this one, though I have $30 written on the bottle, so that’s what I paid. Was it worth it? I don’t think so. It’s a decent specimen of sauvignon blanc, redolent of citrus and apple, but one can do better: equally good sauvignon blancs are available for $20 or less. You win some, you lose some. . .
Drunk with fettucine alfredo; a slight touch of sweetness would have improved the pairing.
News of the Day:
In an op-ed at the NYT, mercifully free of politics, Salman Rusdie’s thesis is “The stories we love make us who we are.” An exponent of magical realism, at least in his best book, Midnight’s Children, Rushdie says this:
This is the beauty of the wonder tale and its descendant, fiction: that one can simultaneously know that the story is a work of imagination, which is to say untrue, and believe it to contain profound truth. The boundary between the magical and the real, at such moments, ceases to exist.
In his paean to “wonder tales,” one of Rushdie’s favorite novels is also in my pantheon of the greats:
When, as a college student, I first read Günter Grass’s great novel “The Tin Drum,” I was unable to finish it. It languished on a shelf for fully 10 years before I gave it a second chance, whereupon it became one of my favorite novels of all time: one of the books I would say that I love. It is an interesting question to ask oneself: Which are the books that you truly love? Try it. The answer will tell you a lot about who you presently are.
Well, you can take issue with his thesis, but not with the claim that The Tin Drum is one of the best novels of our time.
A fossil fruit, 52 million years old, has been discovered , a tomatillo found in South America. (h/t Nicole) It shows this:
Delicate fossil remains of tomatillos found in Patagonia, Argentina, show that this branch of the economically important family that also includes potatoes, peppers, tobacco, petunias and tomatoes existed 52 million years ago, long before the dates previously ascribed to these species, according to an international team of scientists.
According to the Guardian, the body of a missing Catalonian man was found inside the leg of a large dinosaur statue. What a way to go, too: a police spokesperson explained the tragedy this way: “It looks as though he was trying to retrieve a mobile phone, which he’d dropped. It looks like he entered the statue head first and couldn’t get out.” (h/t: Matthew Cobb)
And another strange story, this time from the BBC: Criminal trapped by a photo of Stilton cheese! Carl Stewart, 39, posted this photo on an encrypted messaging service, which was decryptic by the police:
His finger and palm prints from the photos were sufficient to get him indicted for conspiracy to supply heroin, cocaine, ketamine and MDMA, as well as for transferring criminal property. He’s now in jail for over 13 years because he broadcast his love of Stilton cheese! (h/t: Jez)
From the Times of Israel, Blake Ezra has a good piece about the distortions of the media (and by others, including celebrities) about the recent battles in the Middle East: “I’m fed up.” Ricky Gervais’s comment about Hollywood celebrities in the piece is appropriate.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 589,926, an increase of 410 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,488,194, an increase of about 9,600 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on May 25 includes:
- 1521 – The Diet of Worms ends when Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, issues the Edict of Worms, declaring Martin Luther an outlaw.
Can you imagine the relief of those people who no longer had to eat annelids?
- 1787 – After a delay of 11 days, the United States Constitutional Convention formally convenes in Philadelphia after a quorum of seven states is secured.
- 1878 – Gilbert and Sullivan‘s comic opera H.M.S. Pinafore opens at the Opera Comique in London.
- 1895 – Playwright, poet and novelist Oscar Wilde is convicted of “committing acts of gross indecency with other male persons” and sentenced to serve two years in prison.
Wilde moved to France the day he was released from prison and never came back to Britain. Here’s his tomb in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, photographed by me three years ago. A plexiglas barrier surrounds Jacob Epstein’s superb tomb, as people would cover the sculpture with lipstick by kissing it (you can see some kiss marks in the photo):
- 1914 – The House of Commons of the United Kingdom passes the Home Rule Bill for devolution in Ireland.
- 1925 – Scopes Trial: John T. Scopes is indicted for teaching human evolution in Tennessee.
Here I am honoring Scopes at his gravesite in Paducah, Kentucky. The Discovery Institute excoriated me for publishing this picture, saying that I was honoring a man who taught eugenics and racism. But he didn’t: he taught human evolution for one day as a substitute teacher (the other stuff was in the textbook he used for that day, but didn’t teach):
- 1935 – Jesse Owens of Ohio State University breaks three world records and ties a fourth at the Big Ten Conference Track and Field Championships in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
- 1955 – First ascent of Mount Kangchenjunga: On the British Kangchenjunga expedition led by Charles Evans, Joe Brown and George Band reach the summit of the third-highest mountain in the world (8,586 meters); Norman Hardie and Tony Streather join them the following day.
I went to Darjeeling in India largely to see Kanchenjunga from Tiger Hill, the prime viewing spot. For four days the mountain was invisible, socked in by clouds, and then, the day before we left, I climbed Tiger Hill with my camera and tripod an got a morning view of Kanchenjunga that looked like this:
- 1961 – Apollo program: U.S. President John F. Kennedy announces, before a special joint session of the U.S. Congress, his goal to initiate a project to put a “man on the Moon” before the end of the decade.
Here’s Kennedy’s pronouncement exactly sixty years ago today:
- 1977 – Star Wars (retroactively titled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope) is released in theaters.
- 1978 – The first of a series of bombings orchestrated by the Unabomber detonates at Northwestern University resulting in minor injuries.
- 1986 – The Hands Across America event takes place.
Remember this? Well, a continuous chain of linked human hands wasn’t achieved, though 6.5 million people participated, but it was sort of successful. From Wikipedia:
In order to allow the maximum number of people to participate, the path linked major cities and meandered back and forth within the cities. Just as there were sections where the “line” was six to ten people deep, there were also undoubtedly many breaks in the chain. However, enough people participated that if an average of all the participants had been taken and spread evenly along the route standing four feet (1.2 m) apart, an unbroken chain across the 48 contiguous states would have been able to be formed.
- 2001 – Erik Weihenmayer becomes the first blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest, in the Himalayas, with Dr. Sherman Bull.
Here’s Weihenmayer on the summit:
- 2011 – Oprah Winfrey airs her last show, ending her 25-year run of The Oprah Winfrey Show.
- 2012 – The SpaceX Dragon becomes the first commercial spacecraft to successfully rendezvous and berth with the International Space Station
- 2018 – Ireland votes to repeal the Eighth Amendment of their constitution that prohibits abortion in all but a few cases, choosing to replace it with the Thirty-sixth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland.
- 2020 – George Floyd, a black man, is murdered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during an arrest when he is restrained in a prone position face-down on the ground for more than nine minutes, provoking protests across the United States and around the world
Notables born on this day include:
- 1803 – Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet and philosopher (d. 1882)
- 1878 – Bill Robinson, American actor and dancer (d. 1949)
Robinson, a superb tap dancer, was invariably relegated to the “subservient black man” roles. Here he is doing a dance on a staircase:
- 1889 – Igor Sikorsky, Russian-American aircraft designer, founded Sikorsky Aircraft (d. 1972)
- 1929 – Beverly Sills, American soprano and actress (d. 2007)
- 1944 – Frank Oz, English-born American puppeteer, filmmaker, and actor
- 1969 – Anne Heche, American actress
Those who exited this life on May 25 were few, and include:
- 1954 – Robert Capa, Hungarian photographer and journalist (b. 1913)
Capa was the only photographer to land with U.S. troops on Omaha Beach on D-Day. Here’s one of the eleven photos he took of the landing:
- 2003 – Sloan Wilson, American author and poet (b. 1920)
Author of The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, Wilson was the father of biologist David Sloan Wilson.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, there is some joy this day, at least from Paulina:
Paulina: At last some good news from the world.Hili: You must be joking again.(Photo: Paulina R.)
Paulina: Nareszcie jakieś dobre wiadomości ze świata.Hili: Chyba znowu żartujesz.
And Szaron’s hiding in the space where firewood is stored:
A meme from Nicole:
I posted this several years ago on Facebook:
From Bruce, a grilled chicken:
One of many odious tweets by a working BBC journalist. People are demanding she be fired, but I won’t join that mob.
Tala Halawa is a "digital journalist" for the @BBC.
Halawa directly influences and creates news content watched by many millions around the world.
In what world can someone like this work for a professional news outlet? pic.twitter.com/r2LIHmZfF2
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) May 23, 2021
From Barry; nice try, but no cigar. . .
She’s not that into you.. 😅 pic.twitter.com/YCVIswEJrB
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden_) May 23, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. Learn this trick, for some day it may save your life:
If you get lost at sea after a shipwreck, simply balance the sector on your nose and measure the angle between the sun and the horizon. Then you'll know where you are! From "Le grand & nouveau miroir ou flambeau de la mer" https://t.co/rYxQ8eYkhz pic.twitter.com/NKMlZp7B1f
— HarvardMapCollection (@HarvardMapColl) May 24, 2021
While the familiar munching and slurping of the dinner table are innocuous enough to most, those with misophonia – literally a hatred of sound – can find them profoundly irritating, to the point that they become disgusted, anxious, angry and even violent.
Does anyone here have misphonia?
Research reveals why some find the sound of others eating so irritating https://t.co/G17YyywIsK
— Guardian Science (@guardianscience) May 24, 2021
I didn’t know there was a Duck of the Day site. Fortunately, Matthew is following it:
24 May 2021 pic.twitter.com/cnJPX70THH
— Duck of the day (@duckoftheday) May 24, 2021
Below: the average distance traveled by swifts was 570 km per day, but they often went much farther: the record was 830 km per day (roughly 500 miles) over nine days!
Swifts set new record for swiftness https://t.co/Yq5obgQyka The maximum recorded distance in the study was more than 500 miles per day over nine days.
— Roger Highfield (@RogerHighfield) May 24, 2021
Now THIS is a gorgeous beetle:
— Keiki FUKUI / 福井敬貴 (@fukuinsect) April 15, 2021
A failed prediction from Mechanix Illustrated:
How your house should have looked in 1989, and how it actually looked in 1989. pic.twitter.com/ToL30sl4ol
— Pulp Librarian (@PulpLibrarian) May 23, 2021