It’s the last day of May: Monday, May 31, 2020: National Macaroon Day (celebrating the American variety packed with coconut, not those pricey, fancy-schmancy French macarons). It’s also National Meditation Day, World Parrot Day, World No Tobacco Day and Memorial Day.
For Memorial Day, in memory of military forces killed defending America, Google has a special doodle in somber colors (click on the screenshot):
Your host is feeling low today; tell some jokes in the comments!
News of the Day:
It looks like Bibi is toast: a coalition of Israeli opposition parties have struck a deal that will oust Netanyahu and replace him with Naftali Bennett, Netanyahu’s former defense minister. Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving leader, is 71 and has been in power for 12 years.
In the meantime, Texas, along with other states, has passed restrictive new laws that make it not only harder to vote, but easier for judges to overturn election results. This can only be a Republican ploy to disenfranchise minority voters and show some support for Trump, despite the fact that there is no evidence that the 2020 elections were stolen anywhere. The new Texas laws, which the governor may have signed by the time you read this, even allows a judge to overturn election results when there is no evidence of fraud.
The bill includes new restrictions on absentee voting; grants broad new autonomy and authority to partisan poll watchers; escalates punishments for mistakes or offenses by election officials; and bans both drive-through voting and 24-hour voting, which were used for the first time during the 2020 election in Harris County, home to Houston and a growing number of the state’s Democratic voters.
The bill in Texas, a major state with a booming population, represents the apex of the national Republican push to install tall new barriers to voting after President Donald J. Trump’s loss last year to Joseph R. Biden Jr., with expansive restrictions already becoming law in Iowa, Georgia and Florida in 2021. Fueled by Mr. Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud in the election, Republicans have passed the bills almost entirely along partisan lines, brushing off the protestations of Democrats, civil rights groups, voting rights groups, major corporations and faith leaders.
Singer B. J. Thomas, famous for his rendition of the Bacharach/David song “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”, heard in the 1969 movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, has died at 78. Remember this with Paul Newman and Katharine Ross on the bicycle?
Remember the Ever Given, the container ship stuck in the Suez Canal in March, providing us with a lot of drama? The Egyptians have now blamed pilot error on the accident, and have impounded the ship, asking for $550 million to cover costs, including lost revenues and the cost of loosening the ship. The owners, on the other hand, claim that the Canal authority is to blame, allowing the ship to enter during a sandstorm and not providing at least two tugboats.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 594,051, an increase of 446 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,557,413,, an increase of about 7,900 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on May 31 includes:
- 455 – Emperor Petronius Maximus is stoned to death by an angry mob while fleeing Rome.
- 1669 – Citing poor eyesight as a reason, Samuel Pepys records the last event in his diary.
Here’s that last entry:
Up very betimes, and so continued all the morning with W. Hewer, upon examining and stating my accounts, in order to the fitting myself to go abroad beyond sea, which the ill condition of my eyes, and my neglect for a year or two, hath kept me behindhand in, and so as to render it very difficult now, and troublesome to my mind to do it; but I this day made a satisfactory entrance therein. Dined at home, and in the afternoon by water to White Hall, calling by the way at Michell’s, where I have not been many a day till just the other day, and now I met her mother there and knew her husband to be out of town. And here je did baiser elle, but had not opportunity para hazer some with her as I would have offered if je had had it. And thence had another meeting with the Duke of York, at White Hall, on yesterday’s work, and made a good advance: and so, being called by my wife, we to the Park, Mary Batelier, and a Dutch gentleman, a friend of hers, being with us. Thence to “The World’s End,” a drinking-house by the Park; and there merry, and so home late.
And thus ends all that I doubt I shall ever be able to do with my own eyes in the keeping of my journal, I being not able to do it any longer, having done now so long as to undo my eyes almost every time that I take a pen in my hand; and, therefore, whatever comes of it, I must forbear: and, therefore, resolve, from this time forward, to have it kept by my people in long-hand, and must therefore be contented to set down no more than is fit for them and all the world to know; or, if there be any thing, which cannot be much, now my amours to Deb. are past, and my eyes hindering me in almost all other pleasures, I must endeavour to keep a margin in my book open, to add, here and there, a note in short-hand with my own hand.
And so I betake myself to that course, which is almost as much as to see myself go into my grave: for which, and all the discomforts that will accompany my being blind, the good God prepare me!
- 1859 – The clock tower at the Houses of Parliament, which houses Big Ben, starts keeping time.
- 1889 – Johnstown Flood: Over 2,200 people die after a dam fails and sends a 60-foot (18-meter) wall of water over the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
Here’s a view of some of the damage:
- 1911 – The RMS Titanic is launched in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
- 1971 – In accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1968, observation of Memorial Day occurs on the last Monday in May for the first time, rather than on the traditional Memorial Day of May 30.
- 2005 – Vanity Fair reveals that Mark Felt was “Deep Throat”.
- 2008 – Usain Bolt breaks the world record in the 100m sprint, with a wind-legal (+1.7 m/s) 9.72 seconds
The next year Bolt set another record, shown in the digital clock below. Here’s a video of that feat, and the 9.58 still stands.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1819 – Walt Whitman, American poet, essayist, and journalist (d. 1892)
- 1930 – Clint Eastwood, American actor, director, musician, and producer
- 1938 – Peter Yarrow, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer
Yarrow was pardoned by, of all people, Jimmy Carter in 1981; Yarrow’s crime was sexual misconduct with a 14 year old girl. He served but three months in prison.
- 1943 – Joe Namath, American football player, sportscaster, and actor
Here’s the great upset that was Super Bowl III in 1969; I was watching the game live. The underdog New York Jets, with Namath at QB, beat the Baltimore Colts, helmed by Johnny Unitas, by a score of 16-7. Here’s a short video of the highlights.
Remember this salacious ad for Calvin Klein Jeans by Shields. She was only 15 at the time, and the slogan caused a furor: “Do you know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.”
Those who were planted on May 31 include:
- 1967 – Billy Strayhorn, American pianist and composer (b. 1915)
Strayhorn was responsible for many of Duke Ellington’s most famous songs and arrangements, but Duke often withheld credits from Strayhorn. Billy didn’t mind too much, as he was gay and wanted to keep a low profile, but he deserves more praise for what he did. Strayhorn died of esophageal cancer, and Duke of lung cancer, for in those days jazz musicians drank and smoke like gangbusters. Here’s Billy:
- 1976 – Jacques Monod, French biologist and geneticist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1910)
- 1983 – Jack Dempsey, American boxer and lieutenant (b. 1895)
- 1996 – Timothy Leary, American psychologist and author (b. 1920)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Paulina engage in badinage. As you see, she’s been eating well!
Paulina: We have another day of the week.Hili: I knew that it would come.(Photo: Paulina R.)
Paulina: Mamy kolejny dzień tygodnia.Hili: Wiedziałam, że tak będzie.
Here’s a very good animated plot of the migration of modern humans since they went “out of Africa” over 100,000 years ago and spread across the globe. (h/t: Isabel).
A meme from Bruce, which he calls either “think outside the box” or “find your own way”:
From Titania: a distinction without a difference:
Joe Biden is investigating this *brilliant* new hypothesis that a Chinese laboratory may have been the origin of the virus.
This is FAR more plausible than that racist Trumpian conspiracy theory about how the virus originated in a laboratory in China.https://t.co/OtpvXDlv72
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) May 29, 2021
Tweets sent by David. I have no words for this degree of stupidity.
UPDATE: imagine being this ignorant pic.twitter.com/00p0zpaME5
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) May 29, 2021
These tweets apparently came from the owner of, hatWRKS, a hat store in Nashville, Tennessee, and Stetson, bless its heart, just decided to stop selling hats there:
Stetson pulls hats from Nashville shop selling Star of David anti-vaccine badges https://t.co/f6gtCpY6Aj
— The Progressive Mind (@Libertea2012) May 30, 2021
A nice tweet from Simon: “A different angle on a familiar skill.” Very cool!
Excellent: The visual effect of this perspective on juggling. pic.twitter.com/iVBOvjganU
— Lionel Page (@page_eco) May 29, 2021
From reader Barry. Did you know that bunnies were this malleable?
What ! How ??😲🤯❤ pic.twitter.com/4322g46W4C
— Have you ever seen rabbits doing work (@rabbitdoingwork) May 22, 2021
Two more from Barry. An encounter of the Alces kind:
It's even better with the audio. pic.twitter.com/2YhfRqlN6h
— ⓘXanthan🎥 😷 (@Xanthan81) May 29, 2021
A tweet from Ginger K.:WooCat!
For when you fucking hate your cat. pic.twitter.com/1N3zlJLTSf
— NurseBrianRN (@rn_murse) May 29, 2021
From reader Jeremy and his wife Lyn: the new sport of cat curling.
— Larry the Cat (@Number10cat) May 29, 2021