Welcome to Wednesday, June 16, 2021: National Fudge Day. It’s also Fresh Veggies Day (I’m having tomatoes), National Vinegar Day, World Sea Turtle Day, and, of course Bloomsday—the day on which Joyce’s novel Ulysses takes place in 1904. Celebrations continue annually on June 16. That day in 1904 is when Joyce had his first assignation with Nora Barnacle, his future wife (see below), and Joyce’s character in the novel is of course called Leopold Bloom. Mrkgnao!
And if you’re in Sussex, it’s Sussex Day. Have a pint of Landlord to celebrate—if you can find one! I’m still a bit low, and could use a pint or two myself. Warning: I see it’s in the U.S. in bottle form, but I’m told the contents of those bottles is not nearly as good as a well-kept pint drawn from the tap in Britain.
Wine of the Day: Sauvignon blanc is a reliable go-to white, you can find good examples, like this 2019 version, for not too much dosh ($13.79). A fresh-tasting wine, straw-colored and with notes of lemon zest and herbs in the nose, it was bone dry, and a good accompaniment for an abstemious vegetarian dinner of black beans and rice with a bit of Greek yogurt and a fried egg on top. I’d recommend this one if you want a non-expensive classy dry white that will go with many summer dishes (note: for spicy or Chinese food, though, I always recommend an off-dry white like Riesling or Gewurztraminer, though I myself prefer beer). This bottle is recommended.
News of the Day:
The Israeli/Palestinian ceasefire didn’t last long. After Hamas sent incendiary balloons and fire kites into Israel (these weapons have burned thousands of acres of Israeli agricultural land and forest), the new government has launched airstrikes on the Gaza strip. Note the New York Times headline that doesn’t mention the Gaza provocation: “Israeli aircraft bomb Gaza just days into new government.” The fire attacks aren’t mentioned until the subheadline. Such is the NYT: this is a conscious decision of a headline writer.
Other news remains thankfully thin. Biden is now in Geneva, preparing for his big face-off with Putin, though I predict the results will be scant. Putin, after all, has little to lose, and Biden is the one who requested the meeting. It’s not a very friendly meeting, either: there will be two sessions, neither of them one-on-one, there will be no joint meals, and there will be no joint post-summit press conference.
A judge ruled that Harvey Weinstein, 16 months into his 23-year sentence in New York, will now be extradited to California to face five women who accused him of sexual assault. He’s already serving what is in effect a life sentence, so this will just be more years added to that, but it’s meet and just that all of his accusers get to put him in the dock.
Speaking of law, Ruth Marcus, an editor at WaPo, is calling for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to retire at the end of the current term. Breyer, 82, is getting up there, and if the GOP takes the Senate in 2022, Mitch “666” McConnell is making noises that a Republican senate will not confirm a Biden nominee (who, of course, would be liberal). Marcus’s is an opinion designed to keep the court as liberal as possible for the long term.
You don’t like to hear the sound of your own voice? It’s common, and I’m one of those who can’t stand to hear myself on videos or podcasts. As CNN reports, there are two reasons for this dislike. One is physiological (we hear our voices partly through bone conduction, while others hear them via air alone), but the other reason is psychological, and I’ll let you read about that. (h/t: Peter)
Below are the results of yesterday’s readers’ poll about which form of capital punishment is better: the Japanese system (in which you find out the date of your execution only on the morning you’re killed) or the American system (in which your execution date is known well in advance). Most people preferred the U.S. system, but many voted “no opinion,” some explaining that they couldn’t answer as they opposed the death penalty.
In light of that, I should have posed the question this way: “If YOU were condemned to execution, would you prefer it to be under the Japanese or the American system?”
And here’s yesterday’s “most searched terms” that have led browsers to this website. Bizarre, no? Deepak Chopra feud with Brian? And where did the Hawaiian shirt business come from (I wear them, but haven’t mentioned them in ages.)
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 599,869, an increase of 340 deaths over yesterday’s figure. We will probably pass 600,000 deaths by tomorrow. The reported world death toll is now 3,838,808, an increase of about 10,400 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on June 16 includes:
- 1779 – Spain declares war on the Kingdom of Great Britain, and the Great Siege of Gibraltar begins.
- 1858 – Abraham Lincoln delivers his House Divided speech in Springfield, Illinois.
- 1871 – The Universities Tests Act 1871 allows students to enter the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Durham without religious tests (except for those intending to study theology).
I guess that to study theology then you had to believe in a religious creed.
- 1884 – The first purpose-built roller coaster, LaMarcus Adna Thompson‘s “Switchback Railway“, opens in New York’s Coney Island amusement park.
Here’s that roller coaster, which is pretty tame compared to the thrill-inducing rides we see today (I haven’t been on one since I was a kid):
- 1903 – The Ford Motor Company is incorporated.
- 1904 – Irish author James Joyce begins a relationship with Nora Barnacle and subsequently uses the date to set the actions for his novel Ulysses; this date is now traditionally called “Bloomsday“.
A first edition of Ulysses, one of 1000 numbered copies, will cost you around $95,000:
- 1944 – In a gross miscarriage of justice, George Junius Stinney Jr., age 14, becomes the youngest person executed in the United States in the 20th century after being convicted in a two-hour trial for the rape and murder of two teenage white girls.
Stinney was electrocuted in a gruesome way, sitting on a Bible because he was so small and sobbing as they put the hood over his head. (A good video reconstruction, which is distressing to watch, is here.) Here’s his mugshot. 14 years old, for crying out loud, and almost certainly innocent (his conviction was overturned in 2013—69 years too late. Another argument against the death penalty.
- 1961 – While on tour with the Kirov Ballet in Paris, Rudolf Nureyev defects from the Soviet Union.
- 1963 – Soviet Space Program: Vostok 6 mission: Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space.
Tereshkova, still with us at 84, spent nearly three days in orbit. Here’s a photo from four years ago:
- 2010 – Bhutan becomes the first country to institute a total ban on tobacco.
- 2019 – Upwards of 2,000,000 people participate in the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests, the largest in Hong Kong’s history.
Those born on this day include:
- 1723 – Adam Smith, Scottish philosopher and economist (d. 1790)
- 1821 – Old Tom Morris, Scottish golfer and architect (d. 1908)
Here’s Old Tom, born, played, and died in St. Andrews, the “home of golf”. He’s posing on the Old Course at St Andrews:
- 1890 – Stan Laurel, English actor and comedian (d. 1965)
- 1902 – George Gaylord Simpson, American paleontologist and author (d. 1984)
Here’s Simpson, the most famous paleobiologist of the Modern Synthesis:
- 1909 – Archie Carr, American ecologist and zoologist (d. 1987)
- 1917 – Irving Penn, American photographer (d. 2009)
- 1938 – Joyce Carol Oates, American novelist, short story writer, critic, and poet
Happy birthday to Joyce. Here’s a photo I took of her at the New Yorker Cats and Dogs debate in 2014; she’s holding one of Anthony Hutcherson’s Bengal cats (she was on Team Cat):
- 1941 – Lamont Dozier, American songwriter and producer
- 1971 – Tupac Shakur, American rapper and producer (d. 1996)
Notables who popped their clogs on June 16 were few, and include these two:
- 1939 – Chick Webb, American drummer and bandleader (b. 1905)
- 1977 – Wernher von Braun, German-American physicist and engineer (b. 1912)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili spots an AOI (animal of interest):
Paulina: Co tam widzisz?Hili: Obiekt mojego pożądania.
From Jesus of the Day. This person (or his carwash) has a hard job ahead!
From reader Ken, who writes: “Arizona Republican state senator Wendy Rogers seems unclear on how ‘federalism’ (and the Supremacy Clause of Article IV, section 2 of the US constitution) works”. Sound up. What a pity that Mitch “666” McConnell blocked Merrick’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
You will not touch Arizona ballots or machines unless you want to spend time in an Arizona prison. Maybe you should focus on stopping terrorism. The Justice Department is one of the most corrupt institutions in the USA.https://t.co/Jl2pKNpfJR
— Wendy Rogers (@WendyRogersAZ) June 11, 2021
From Luana. What is wrong with the claim made in the linked article?
"Monogamy in its current form was created by the white supremacist Catholic Church as a way to control the bodies of nonbinary and cis women. The very idea of monogamy originates in capitalistic world views concerning 'ownership' of other people." https://t.co/lK4dX2OCiL pic.twitter.com/hMUtaWa5K2
— Aaron Sibarium (@aaronsibarium) June 15, 2021
A tweet from Ginger K. Science fun!
Pyrex and vegetable oil both have refractive indexes of 1.47 and air is at about 1.00. If we combine substances with different refractive indexes, we can see some interesting effects, like a pyrex beaker suddenly disappearing [read more: https://t.co/n1WG6Pv2KJ] pic.twitter.com/rLnk4doWHE
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) May 30, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. I don’t understand why the cat shouldn’t be taking a nap on a bunch of green bananas on the tree:
— place where cat shouldn’t be (@icatshouldnt) June 13, 2021
A very beautiful moth; read more about it here (I’m not sure about the cobra-head mimicry).
Actual size of the moth when placed on the hand pic.twitter.com/P7fKehsn1i
— penanam anggur (@anthraxxxx) June 11, 2021
One of Matthew’s beloved optical illusions. The illusion is produced by inserting same-sized pictures of dolls on a picture of a corridor; the dolls are not actually in the picture, and of course the illusion is produced by our expectations produced by perspective.
The upper doll appears to be larger than the lower one, though they are the same size in this image. pic.twitter.com/5STEcjFEuK
— Akiyoshi Kitaoka (@AkiyoshiKitaoka) June 15, 2021
What are the chances of this—not just the event but being there to photograph the event?
A meteor recently fell into the most active volcano in Indonesia, Mount Merapi
Photographed by Gunarto Song pic.twitter.com/5otEAMYA3b
— Latest in space (@latestinspace) June 13, 2021
Johnny Cash, with a. . . . .kitten???
Here’s Johnny Cash with a kitten pic.twitter.com/Gf91o2lSht
— Diane Doniol-Valcroze (@ddoniolvalcroze) June 13, 2021