Welcome to Sunday, June 20, 2021: National Vanilla Milkshake Day, which means it’s going to be a bland day. And it’s the longest day of the year! The summer solstice begins at 11:32 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time in the U.S.
And it’s Plain Yogurt Day, National Ice Cream Soda Day, American Eagle Day, National Turkey Lovers’ Day (at least they put the apostrophe in the right place!), West Virginia Day (in West Virginia), World Refugee Day, and World Humanist Day.
Wine of the Day: This is a 2018 California Deperada “Kleio” chenin blanc that I paid $16.99 for some time ago, but the price is now listed as much higher. At the price I paid it’s a bargain, a good accompaniment for pizza (it’s hot and I wanted a cool white). It’s a complex chenin blanc, quite dry but with a floral, perfume-y bouquet with (I swear) a slight odor of bananas and minerals. But look at this tasting note, which is over the top!
The seashell minerality in this sustainably-farmed Chenin is densely backed by bruised quince, kumquats, lime blossom and hints of beeswax. The bright acidity mingles with nutty notes of raw almonds and white sesame seeds, making this bottle a great candidate for shellfish and poultry pairings.
Beeswax? Sesame seeds? I can’t smell it, but you know how these things are. Anyway, I think that now this bottle would be both pricey and hard to find, but I’ll have two days to enjoy it. (Depending on the bottle, I’ll drink it over either two or three days; the latter if it’s a gutsy red that may get better.) This is a textbook example of a good, dry chenin blanc, which, with sauvignon blanc, should be on your list of go-to whites in this hot season.
News of the Day:
The Bidens have announced that their beloved German Shepherd “Champ” has died at the age of 13. They have another younger dog, but remember the promises by the President and First Lady that they were going to put a cat in the White House? As I predicted, that hasn’t happened. Well, Joe, now it’s time. If not now, when?
In a tepid election, with less than 50% of voters casting a ballot (the lowest since the 1979 Iranian Revolution), Iranians have elected hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi as their new President. Raisi is a theocrat and the handpicked choice of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the “Supreme Leader” of the country. The citizens clearly weren’t enthused: only 48.8% of the populace bothered to vote. Raisi, though a bigger opponent of the U.S. than his predecessor, is said to be in favor of reviving the nuclear agreement with the U.S. and other countries that Trump canceled. As I’ve said, this agreement is futile, as anybody with two neurons to rub together knows that Iran will get nuclear weapons some day and has been developing them all along.
I’m glad they made Juneteenth a holiday, which starts immediately, but the NYT editorial page is already grousing about it in multiple ways. Juneteenth tee shirts? Can a national holiday be kept as a black holiday, or will it be coopted by white folks and greedy commercial interests? Have we made much progress in the struggle against racism? Let’s just celebrate what the day stands for and leave the kvetching for a while. In fact, three of the NYT’s 11 front-page editorials are kvetches about the holiday (click to read):
As they say at the end of each episode of the NBC News, “there’s GOOD news tonight”. Today’s good news: a kitten in Pennsylvania has been rescued from a storm drain and adopted. The Facebook post is below. I love animal rescue stories. (h/t GInger K)
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. 601,352, an increase of 301 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,876,269, an increase of about 8,500 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on June 20 includes:
Only 23 of the 146 prisoners survived; the rest died of thirst, trampling, or suffocation.
Here’s the great seal with the meaning of its symbols:
Reverse (the Big Eye always freaks me out):
Here’s a photo of Victoria when she was relatively young, though I couldn’t find the date:
Here’s that patent:
- 1877 – Alexander Graham Bell installs the world’s first commercial telephone service in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
- 1893 – Lizzie Borden is acquitted of the murders of her father and stepmother.
- 1900 – Boxer Rebellion: The Imperial Chinese Army begins a 55-day siege of the Legation Quarter in Beijing, China.
- 1942 – The Holocaust: Kazimierz Piechowski and three others, dressed as members of the SS-Totenkopfverbände, steal an SS staff car and escape from the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Here’s a tweet Matthew found to commemorate the successful escape:
20 June 1942 | Driving a stolen SS car and wearing SS officers uniforms, four Polish prisoners escaped from #Auschwitz camp: Eugeniusz Bendera, Stanisław Gustaw Jaster, Józef Lempart oraz Kazimierz Piechowski. It was one of the most spectacular escapes from the German Nazi camp. pic.twitter.com/R9EwlFmwUo
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) June 20, 2021
- 1943 – The Detroit race riot breaks out and continues for three more days.
- 1944 – The experimental MW 18014 V-2 rocket reaches an altitude of 176 km, becoming the first man-made object to reach outer space.
This, the world’s first guided ballistic missile, crossed the Kármán line, the legal boundary between space and the Earth’s atmosphere: it’s 100 km above the Earth’s mean sea level. The rocket (below) was designed by the Germans to attack allied cities, and were used to attack places in five countries. Fortunately, they were developed too late to be of much use to the Nazis; had Germany had them in reliable form at the beginning of the war, England might have lost. Here’s a V-2 replica:
- 1945 – The United States Secretary of State approves the transfer of Wernher von Braun and his team of Nazi rocket scientists to the U.S. under Operation Paperclip.
von Braun was in fact a leading figure in designing the developing the V-2 rockets described above.
- 1963 – Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet Union and the United States sign an agreement to establish the so-called “red telephone” link between Washington and Moscow.
- 1972 – Watergate scandal: An 18½-minute gap appears in the tape recording of the conversations between U.S. President Richard Nixon and his advisers regarding the recent arrests of his operatives while breaking into the Watergate complex.
Nixon’s secretary had a dubious explanation for that gap (from ABC News):
Rose Mary Woods, Nixon’s loyal private secretary, was tasked with transcribing the tapes before they were turned over to prosecutors. Woods testified in front of a federal grand jury in 1974 that she was using a dictaphone, which had a pedal that would pause the recording when she lifted her foot off it, and she claimed she had erased part of the tape by mistake.
“Her explanation was that she was listening to the tape and … the telephone rang,” said Wine-Banks. “So she kept her foot on a pedal, pushed the wrong button. She pushed record instead of off and reached for the phone.”
And that funny re-enactment by Woods:
- 1975 – The film Jaws is released in the United States, becoming the highest-grossing film of that time and starting the trend of films known as “summer blockbusters“.
A famous scene from the movie:
Notables born on this day include:
- 1875 – Reginald Punnett, English geneticist, statistician, and academic (d. 1967)
- 1905 – Lillian Hellman, American playwright and screenwriter (d. 1984)
- 1909 – Errol Flynn, Australian-American actor (d. 1959)
Flynn was a handsome devil, and beloved by the ladies. There’s a still-used phrase that may derive from him (from Wikipedia):
The expression “in like Flynn” is said to have been coined to refer to the supreme ease with which he reputedly seduced women, but its origin is disputed. Flynn was reportedly fond of the expression and later claimed that he wanted to call his memoir In Like Me. (The publisher insisted on a more tasteful title, My Wicked, Wicked Ways.)
- 1924 – Chet Atkins, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (d. 2001)
- 1942 – Brian Wilson, American singer-songwriter and producer
- 1945 – Anne Murray, Canadian singer and guitarist
- 1952 – Vikram Seth, Indian author and poet
Those who reached their pull date on June 20 include:
- 1925 – Josef Breuer, Austrian physician and psychologist (b. 1842)
- 1947 – Bugsy Siegel, American mobster (b. 1906)
Bugsy was a Jewish gangster who nevertheless was hand in hand with the Italian mafia, and he was largely responsible for getting organized crime into Las Vegas (see The Godfather). He was killed at 41. Here’s one of his mugshots, taken when he was 22:
- 2002 – Erwin Chargaff, Austrian-American biochemist and academic (b. 1905)
No, as he said, “I did not find the double helix.” But he did find the key to the pairing rules of DNA: the number of As and Ts are the same, as are the number of Cs and Ts, but the first pair is not equal in proportion to the second pair. Ergo, A pairs with T, and G with C. He did not get the Nobel Prize for this.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili refuses to be a Popperian:
Hili: This is a dead spider, probably.A: You have to try to falsify it.Hili: You do it.
Hili: To jest prawdopodobnie martwy pająk.Ja: Musisz to spróbować sfalsyfikować.Hili: Ty to zrób.
From Barry, though I don’t know if the data are correct:
From Jesus of the Day:
Tweets from Matthew. First, the magic of Christiano Ronaldo. Want a Coke? Just ask him! (See here for recent news showing that perhaps Ronaldo is no longer so keen on the soft drink.)
— No Context Humans (@HumansNoContext) June 19, 2021
76 ducklings in the Big Parade! Some were clearly ducknapped; no merganser could have incubated that many eggs.
This female red-breasted merganser in Minnesota has 76 ducklings in her care: a remarkable image that amateur wildlife photographer Brent Cizek captured on a recent trip to Lake Bemidji, about 150 miles northwest of Duluth, Minn [source: https://t.co/JbpWJ6cRVv] pic.twitter.com/slD2CVbnSl
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) June 18, 2021
This is a gynandromorph stag beetle, split right down the middle, with the big pincer on the male side. (See another one here.)
— kara (@jasjas1229) July 16, 2020
This is a good question; how stupid of me not to ask it before. On the other hand, one could say that they do replicate in terms of being able to serve as a template for a twin DNA strand.
Why call genes "replicators" when they are not things that replicate, but rather things that get replicated?
— Kevin Mitchell (@WiringTheBrain) June 19, 2021
So many people risked their lives to save Jews during the Nazi regime! Here’s one, part of a thread that tells the story. Read more about his story here, which includes his allowing his daughter to horsewhip Gestapo agents trying to arrest Jews.
Right. A thread on another ordinary person who did extraordinary things.
This is Robert Smallbones, career civil servant and diplomat, and his wife Inga.
Between November 1938 and the outbreak of WW2, they helped OVER FORTY THOUSAND Jews escape the Nazis and get to Britain. /1 pic.twitter.com/GKhrqcJn79
— John Bull (@garius) April 10, 2021
Matthew says this is an excellent book for the layperson; you can buy it read about it here (only £15 for a lavishly illustrated hardback about insect behavior. Matthew adds that the thread below the book includes some great insect pictures and videos. One is shown below: a moth pupa that’s a pretty good mimic of a dead leaf.
Not the most exciting example, but we're finding a lot(!) of leaf-roller moth pupae in a study site in South Wales. Predominantly oak woodland with ash, hazel and a diverse shrub layer. pic.twitter.com/zHlVvMp2cR
— Dr Anthony Caravaggi (@thonoir) June 18, 2021
Another moray eel hunting on land. NOBODY IS SAFE NOW!
OMG MORAY EEL HUNTING ON LAND!
Moray eels have an internal pair of jaws, literally like the jaws from the Aliens monster, to grab prey and pull it down their throat (open thread for video). This way they can eat on land. WHAT IS THIS PLANET??
— Open Ocean Exploration (@RebeccaRHelm) June 18, 2021