Welcome to Tuesday, June 8, 2021: National Jelly-Filled Donut Day (I wouldn’t say no, though jam filling is better than jelly). It is also Best Friends Day, Thomas Paine Day (he died on this day in 1809), Call Your Doctor Day (if you’re fine, just say “hi”), World Brain Tumor Day and World Oceans Day,
News of the Day:
At last the hacker-blackmailers have got what they deserve. Colonial Pipeline paid millions in bitcoin ransom to a group of hackers known as Darkside; but, with the help of the FBI, at least $2.3 million of the $4.4 million ransom has been recovered. But that’s not enough to deter these scammers. Now if they could just track down the hackers and get them arrested.
Here are two related articles (one an op-ed) on Kamala Harris from the New York Times. As you may know, she is visiting both Guatemala and Mexico to see what we can do to slow down the record immigration to the U.S., and she’s also been put in charge of the administration’s actions on voting-rights issues.
This article, “U.S. Aid to Central America Hasn’t Slowed Migration. Can Kamala Harris?” describes how the U.S. has poured billions of dollars into Central America hoping that the infusion of cash would deter those seeking to immigrate for financial reasons. But that hasn’t worked. A quote:
Here in Guatemala, which has received more than $1.6 billion in American aid over the last decade, poverty rates have risen, malnutrition has become a national crisis, corruption is unbridled and the country is sending more unaccompanied children to the United States than anywhere else in the world.
That is the stark reality facing Ms. Harris as she assumes responsibility for expanding the same kind of aid programs that have struggled to stem migration in the past. It is a challenge that initially frustrated her top political aides, some of whom viewed the assignment from Mr. Biden as one that would inevitably set her up for failure in the first months of her tenure.
. . . But experts say the reasons that years of aid have not curbed migration run far deeper than that. In particular, they note that much of the money is handed over to American companies, which swallow a lot of it for salaries, expenses and profits, often before any services are delivered.
If that’s the case, then Harris is bound to fail, and that failure will be held against her by Republicans.
“Kamala Harris Can’t Win” by Frank Bruni. Bruni notes,
“If I was Vice President Harris and President Biden kept giving me the toughest assignments, I’d be like, ‘What’s up, dude?’” David Chalian, CNN’s political director, said on the CNN Political Briefing podcast on Wednesday. “Add this now to her plate with immigration and she’s got some truly tough political battles ahead.”
And yet, says Bruni, Harris asked for the voting-rights assignment. I can’t help but believe that the much of the opprobrium directed at her from conservatives comes from her being a woman. But I’m pulling for her, and if she manages to advance both of these issues, she’ll be in a good position to succeed Biden as President.
Here’s a statement made yesterday by Harris, discouraging “illegal migration” from Guatemala to the U.S.
VP HARRIS IN GUATEMALA: "I want to be clear to folks in this region thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States/Mexico border: Do not come. Do not come.”
"The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border." pic.twitter.com/gRBWBpt6PS
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) June 7, 2021
The article below from the Wall Street Journal (click on screenshot).describes “selection in action”—resistance to industrial pollution that evolved in New Jersey fish. The killifish in particular shows remarkable resistance evolved since pollutants began being dumped into the water in the late 18th century, and that is a lot of generations for selection to do its thing. The WSJ calls this “natural selection”, and it is, sort of, but it’s natural selection caused by rapid human change of the environment. You could equally well call it “inadvertent artificial selection”. Well, that’s a semantic issue, and not of great import. The article also gives several other intriguing examples of how anthropogenic change in the environment has promoted the evolution of species in nature.
The FDA has approved the first new drug, aducanumab, for Alzheimer’s disease in 20 years, a drug that reduces the accumulation of amyloid clumps in the brain. But does it slow cognitive impairment? We don’t know. One problem is that there are serious doubts about whether the drug really works (there have been clinical trials, but the FDA is requiring new ones). The other problem is that the drug, administered via a monthly injection, will cost $56,000 a year—on top of the high costs of diagnosis and other treatment.
AOC has donated $5000 each to a number of Democratic House candidates that she favors. I’m not sure about the ins and outs of this, but Politico implies that the donations aren’t that welcome—or kosher:
As the midterm campaign’s first fundraising deadline approached this week, several vulnerable House Democrats got an unwelcome surprise in their accounts: $5,000 from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The New York Democrat sent the contributions to her colleagues to help keep the House majority ahead of a tough cycle without directly contributing to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, with which she’s publicly clashed. But Ocasio-Cortez’s largesse — and an oversight at the campaign headquarters — has instead raised awkward questions among her colleagues as some swing-district Democrats fret over whether to return her money before the GOP can turn it into an attack ad.
Apparently the donations were made without asking and without warning, which carries a danger to vulnerable candidates in areas where Ocasio-Cortez is regarded as a satanic uber-Leftist. These are the very candidates that she apparently wanted to help. This could all have been avoided had she just given the money—a total of $160,000) to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, where it could have been dispersed without the source being divulged.
Rome got its first pizza vending machine. It makes a pizza from scratch in just three minutes, and there are four choices: margherita, four cheeses, spicy salami, and bacon. How is it faring? As predicted: Romans have greeted it with universal disdain. Here’s a photo from the NYT:
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 597,533, an increase of 459 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,752,900, an increase of about 8,400 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on June 8 includes:
- 793 – Vikings raid the abbey at Lindisfarne in Northumbria, commonly accepted as the beginning of Norse activity in the British Isles.
I”m not sure how the remarkable Lindisfarne Gospel manuscript survived this raid, as the book didn’t leave the abbey until about 875 AD, but we’re lucky they survived. I believe they’re on display in the British Library in London:
- 1794 – Robespierre inaugurates the French Revolution‘s new state religion, the Cult of the Supreme Being, with large organized festivals all across France.
- 1887 – Herman Hollerith applies for US patent #395,781 for the ‘Art of Compiling Statistics’, which was his punched card calculator.
Here’s the granted patent and a replica of the sorting and tabulating machines:
- 1906 – Theodore Roosevelt signs the Antiquities Act into law, authorizing the President to restrict the use of certain parcels of public land with historical or conservation value.
This law allowed the government to create “national monuments” (over a hundred), some of which, like Death Valley, have been converted to national parks.
- 1949 – Helen Keller, Dorothy Parker, Danny Kaye, Fredric March, John Garfield, Paul Muni and Edward G. Robinson are named in an FBI report as Communist Party members.
Hellen Keller? Danny Kaye? What a joke!
A first printing of the first edition of this classic will run you between $12,000 and $15,000:
- 1953 – The United States Supreme Court rules in District of Columbia v. John R. Thompson Co. that restaurants in Washington, D.C., cannot refuse to serve black patrons.
- 1972 – Vietnam War: Nine-year-old Phan Thị Kim Phúc is burned by napalm, an event captured by Associated Press photographer Nick Ut moments later while the young girl is seen running down a road, in what would become an iconic, Pulitzer Prize-winning photo.
Here’s that photo:
She still bear the scars; a photo from the Wisconsin State Journal labeled: “Kim Phúc shows burn scars on her back and arms after laser treatments in Miami in September 2015. Photo:
- 1987 – New Zealand’s Labour government establishes a national nuclear-free zone under the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act 1987.
- 1992 – The first World Oceans Day is celebrated, coinciding with the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- 2009 – Two American journalists are found guilty of illegally entering North Korea and sentenced to 12 years of penal labour.
Thanks to Bill Clinton’s intervention and his visit to North Korea, the journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling (below), were released that same year.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1867 – Frank Lloyd Wright, American architect, designed the Price Tower and Fallingwater (d. 1959)
- 1916 – Francis Crick, English biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2004)
- 1925 – Barbara Bush, American wife of George H. W. Bush, 41st First Lady of the United States (d. 2018)
- 1944 – Boz Scaggs, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
Here’s Scaggs with one of my favorite of his songs, “We’re all alone“. A cover by Rita Coolidge became a big hit.
- 1947 – Sara Paretsky, American author
Those who Went to a Better Place on June 8 include:
- 1809 – Thomas Paine, English-American theorist and author (b. 1737)
- 1845 – Andrew Jackson, American general, judge, and politician, 7th President of the United States (b. 1767)
- 1889 – Gerard Manley Hopkins, English poet (b. 1844)
I do like Hopkins’s poems, though I still think that my advocating them in an interview for a graduate fellowship (they asked me what poets i liked) cost me that fellowship (he’s seen as sappy). Here he is; he died at 44 of typhoid:
- 1982 – Satchel Paige, American baseball player (b. 1906)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili spots a friend:
A: What do you see there?Hili: A galloping snail.
Ja: Co tam widzisz?Hili: Galopującego ślimaka.
From Facebook. Is this real?
Simone Biles just claimed her record-setting seventh all-round women’s gymnastics title. No surprise when you see stuff like this:
“It’s never been done before. And it’s called, ‘The Biles.’” pic.twitter.com/5uoyYQPzWB
— Lindsay Crouse (@lindsaycrouse) June 7, 2021
How did this woman go off the rails?
Twitter suspended Naomi Wolf yesterday so I put together a tribute pic.twitter.com/uI4Wg4Ijno
— The Real Truther (@thereal_truther) June 5, 2021
See the tweet below this one for a corrective:
Never underestimate the power of a duck. pic.twitter.com/jUOGc6QJM7
— Dick King-Smith HQ (@DickKingSmith) June 7, 2021
From Simon, another Oded Rechavi tweet coopting photos to give science lessons. This makes hash of the tweet just above.
Correlation Vs. Causation pic.twitter.com/Qc4QZ7yB3T
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) June 7, 2021
Look at this lovely sexually dimorphic bird. You can read more about this bird, a denizen of the Indian subcontinent, here.
Grandala are deeply sexually dimorphic and this is the difference. While females are brown with white streaks all over the head, males are almost eye-searing blue. This picture captured by Rajesh Panwar in North Sikkim, India, gives a nice visualization https://t.co/WGJX55Z8Sf pic.twitter.com/xd8ZfROEV5
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) June 6, 2021
This is a great animation, showing where a raindrop falling anywhere in the U.S. will wind up (you can specify):
— Garrett Dash Nelson (@en_dash) May 24, 2021
The males of this species are the world’s most beautiful ducks, but the females are also lovely:
For anyone who needs it this Monday morning, here’s a Mandarin Duck and her chicks.
For anyone who doesn’t, sort your life out. pic.twitter.com/1s7xkedNLq
— David QC (@DavidMuttering) June 7, 2021
And a really pretty snail to start a dolorous Tuesday:
The colourful Haitian tree snail.
(Photo: Miguel Landestoy) pic.twitter.com/MeisOzjv0T
— Weird Animals (@Weird_AnimaIs) June 6, 2021