The Memorial Day weekend officially kicks off today, May 28, 2021, with Monday being an official holiday in the U.S. And hooray—it’s National Brisket Day, which must be celebrated in Texas with a BBQ brisket. It’s also International Hamburger Day, Amnesty International Day (see below), Menstrual Hygiene Day, and National Heat Awareness Day.
Wine of the Day (below): This puppy probably cost me a bit south of $20, and Vacqueyras is not a wine I often drink outside of France, where it’s relatively inexpensive in restaurants. (I don’t buy expensive wine in French restaurants.) As it was highly rated by my erstwhile go-to critic, Robert Parker and others, I was eager to try it, and had it with a chicken breast, steamed rice, and fresh tomatoes drizzled with olive oil.
It’ a blend of 80% Grenache with 20% Syrah, made from vines 80-100 years old, with the juice aged for two years in concrete tanks. The wine smelled strongly of cherries, and, as the reviews note, is redolent of ripe fruit. It’s not a particularly gutsy wine, so I wouldn’t have it with steak, but it’s a great accompaniment for anything that calls for a racy and elegant red. Verdict: worth the money.
News of the Day:
The New York Times reports that, slowly but surely, the Taliban is taking over Afghanistan as U.S. troops pull out. Rural outposts of the Afghan military are surrendering, and provincial capitals are surrounded. Afghanistan will not be a good place to live for a very long time.
The Detroit Metro Times reports the rectification of a very shoddy conviction: Gilbert Lee Poole, Jr. spent 32 years in prison for murder based on a supposed match between tooth marks on the victim and Poole’s teeth. It turns out that tooth-mark matching is pretty lousy at identifying criminals. It was DNA evidence from blood at the crime scne that exonerated Poole. How do you give a man 32 years of his life back? (h/t: Ken)
Yesterday’s HuffPost Personal section had an especially interesting article about stuff you really need to know. Click on the screenshot. (Note: TMI!)
Wanna buy a whole town? Nipton, California, population 25 and 80 acres in size, is for sale for $2,750,000. I don’t know who would want that ragtag collection of trailer parks, general stores and The Hotel California, all in the middle of nowhere, sitting right on the border with Nevada. What would you do with such a town? However, the Wikipedia entry for Nipton is interesting.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 592,938, an increase of about 496 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,526,317, an increase of about 12,700 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on May 28 includes:
- 585 BC – A solar eclipse occurs, as predicted by the Greek philosopher and scientist Thales, while Alyattes is battling Cyaxares in the Battle of Halys, leading to a truce. This is one of the cardinal dates from which other dates can be calculated.
This story may be true, but nobody has any idea how Thales predicted the eclipse.
- 1533 – The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, declares the marriage of King Henry VIII of England to Anne Boleyn valid.
- 1588 – The Spanish Armada, with 130 ships and 30,000 men, sets sail from Lisbon, Portugal, heading for the English Channel. (It will take until May 30 for all ships to leave port.)
- 1830 – U.S. President Andrew Jackson signs the Indian Removal Act which denies Native Americans their land rights and forcibly relocates them.
- 1892 – In San Francisco, John Muir organizes the Sierra Club.
Here’s Muir with Teddy Roosevelt in 1906. The Scottish conservationist lived in Yosemite Valley for two years.
- 1934 – Near Callander, Ontario, Canada, the Dionne quintuplets are born to Oliva and Elzire Dionne; they will be the first quintuplets to survive infancy.
They were identical quintuplets, and two of them are still alive. Here’s a video from when they were young:
- 1936 – Alan Turing submits On Computable Numbers for publication.
- 1937 – Volkswagen, the German automobile manufacturer is founded.
A prototype from 1935. Comissioned by Adolf Hitler, this was the best-selling car in history:
- 1948 – Daniel François Malan is elected as Prime Minister of South Africa. He later goes on to implement Apartheid.
- 1987 – A West German pilot, Mathias Rust, who was 18 years old, evades Soviet Union air defences and lands a private plane in the Red Square in Moscow, Russia.
Here’s a tweet about that with video:
To the surprise of the Soviet air defence forces.pic.twitter.com/jdBZEeHcBe
— Alex Kokcharov (@AlexKokcharov) May 28, 2021
- 1999 – In Milan, Italy, after 22 years of restoration work, Leonardo da Vinci‘s masterpiece The Last Supper is put back on display.
Here’s the restored version, and though I lived in Milan for over a month, the work was under restoration when I visited:
- 2002 – The last steel girder is removed from the original World Trade Center site. Cleanup duties officially end with closing ceremonies at Ground Zero in Manhattan, New York City.
Notables born on this day include:
Agassiz, who worked at Harvard (ironically, its Museum of Comparative Zoology is named after him) was a staunch opponent of Darwin, a creationist who never gave in. Here’s a portrait:
- 1888 – Jim Thorpe, American decathlete, football player, and coach (d. 1953)
- 1908 – Ian Fleming, English journalist and author, created James Bond (d. 1964)
Here’s a short video interview and biography of Ian Fleming, who explains the origin of the name “James Bond”:
- 1912 – Patrick White, Australian novelist, poet, and playwright, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1990)
- 1944 – Rudy Giuliani, American lawyer and politician, 107th mayor of New York City
- 1945 – Patch Adams, American physician and author, founded the Gesundheit! Institute
- 1947 – Leland Sklar, American singer-songwriter and bass player
- 1968 – Kylie Minogue, Australian singer-songwriter, producer, and actress
- 1985 – Carey Mulligan, English actress and singer
I first saw Carey Mulligan in the 2009 movie “An Education,” in which she was stunning. She went on to star in one of my favorite recent movies (2010), “Never Let Me Go,” based on the eponymous Ishiguro movie. I love both the movie and the book, though others don’t appreciate them as much as I do. Here’s the trailer for the movie.
Those who ascended to their cloud on May 28 include:
- 1843 – Noah Webster, American lexicographer (b. 1758)
- 1849 – Anne Brontë, English novelist and poet (b. 1820)
- 1971 – Audie Murphy, American soldier and actor, Medal of Honor recipient (b. 1925)
- 2014 – Maya Angelou, American memoirist and poet (b. 1928)
Angelou getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Obama in 2011:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Malgorzata explains, “One often hears that the world is developing/moving forward. But Hili is happy for the moment so she decided to stand still where she is.”
Hili: The world goes forward.Paulina: And you?Hili: I’m standing still for the moment.(Photo: Paulina R.)
Hili: Świat idzie do przodu.Paulina: A ty?Hili: A ja chwilowo stoję.(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)
From Bruce. I cannot guarantee this is a real screenshot of a t.v. report:
A meme from Nicole. I believe the emblem has something to do with the cars lighting.
From Fat Cat Art:
I get included in an anti-Semitic list of Jewish atheists trying to cash in on the Godless Book Market!
A lot of people do not see this coming: pic.twitter.com/u9LQYrk1Ws
— Atheistic One (@atheistic_1) May 27, 2021
From Titania: The Spanish postal service goes woke, but in a curious way: making the darkest stamp the least valuable. Titania has a wry take on this, but there’s a real fracas going on in Spain about it, as described in The Washington Post.
Q: Why do these new “equality stamps” from the Spanish postal service have lower monetary values for the darker shades? 🤔
A: Because punctuality is a white supremacist trait. So it is more empowering that packages marked with black stamps will take longer to arrive. ✊🏾 pic.twitter.com/veJFFGx318
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) May 27, 2021
From Simon: Rechavi’s usual academic take on nonacademic matters, in this case parkour. Simon asks, “I wonder how much blood we are not seeing?
“Unfortunately, while your C.V is impressive, this year we are only recruiting virologists” pic.twitter.com/wjZ0lPlNRl
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) May 26, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. First, jumping spiders become Honorary Cats:
A little gem in a paper I could not agree with more: #SpiderTwitter
From: Nelson, X. J., Pratt, A. J., Aluoch, S. A., & Jackson, R. R. (2021). Effects of phytochemicals on predatory decision making in a spider. Animal Behaviour, 177, 69-80. pic.twitter.com/G887UBPU5S
— Angela Chuang (@arachnonaut) May 27, 2021
An earlier livestream of a cat giving birth; you can rewind the link to see the action:
not my cat just creeping on a live stream cuz ive never seen this https://t.co/TKh3KCRSGD
— asia murphy (look! colonialism!) (@am_anatiala) May 27, 2021
Matthew doesn’t understand this, but then I don’t understand cricket. What crappy defense: the first baseman should have had his foot on the bag for the throw from third, and then someone should have covered first base when the first baseman tried to chase down the runner.
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) May 27, 2021
Oy! They’re turning Down House (Darwin’s home), once a fantastic and understated place to visit, into a theme park. NO!
Ever wondered what life was like for Darwin on his voyage aboard HMS Beagle? Come and see our life-size re-creation of his cabin. You can even hear the seagulls and the creaking of the timbers! Book your tickets in advance at https://t.co/eiQz5r0FJH pic.twitter.com/iXIr1tSywl
— Home of Darwin (@HomeofDarwin) May 27, 2021
Vulgar slang from the 18th century. I like “dog booby”.
So, an “eternity box” is a coffin, to “hop the twig” is to run away & “balderdash” is adulterated wine. Enliven your vocabulary with this & much more 18C slang, as recorded in Grose‘s Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1788), reproduced at https://t.co/eh6a6c0MdH pic.twitter.com/jRpDkp67HC
— Journal of Art in Society (@artinsociety) May 27, 2021