Good morning on Friday, July 2, 2021: National Anisette Day. It’s also World UFO Day, Comic Sans Day, and Freedom from Fear of Speaking Day (see below, though the holiday isn’t really about Freedom of Speech, but about a phobia). Nevertheless, the man in the painting almost surely had to overcome his fear of speaking:
I saw a possum crossing the street on my way to work this morning.
News of the Day:
Well. of course the big news is that criminal charges have come down on the Trump organization. The Orange Man faces no personal charges, but the Manhattan District Attorney accused the Trump organization of tax fraud, paying people without keeping records. And one of the executives, Alan Weisselberg, who was Trumps chief financial officer, is accused of grand larceny and tax fraud for evading taxes on $1.7 million in perks. Is Trump next? The NYT says this:
And while the indictment is narrowly focused on the scheme to evade taxes based on the provision of the benefits, the charges could lay the groundwork for the next steps in the investigation, which will focus on Mr. Trump.
The broader investigation into Mr. Trump and his company’s business practices is continuing. The prosecutors in the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., have been investigating whether Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization manipulated property values to obtain loans and tax benefits, among other potential financial crimes, The New York Times has reported.
Let’s have a poll!
The Supreme Court handed down a decision that doesn’t look good for those of us who oppose the new Republican-led restrictions on voting enacted by several states. The court upheld by a 6-3 vote, with the voting politically down the line, that several provisions of Arizona’s new voting-restrictions laws were legal, even if they imposed slight burdens on minority voters. Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan dissented. (The Court’s decision is here, with Kagan’s dissent particularly strong.)
Reader Ken sent me this note yesterday: “Today’s the last day of the Court’s term. The only remaining business is a decision in the California donor disclosure case, and whether 82-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer will announce his retirement, giving Uncle Joe the opportunity to nominate his successor while the Dems have the Senate votes to confirm.” It looks as if Breyer won’t resign, since that’s traditionally announced before the end of the Court’s term.
In the Surfside, Florida condo collapse, 18 people are now confirmed dead and 145 are still missing. After a week without water, it seems unlikely that anybody is still alive, but friends and relatives of the missing are still holding out hope. The search and rescue mission (it hasn’t been changed to the dreaded “recovery mission”) was paused today as workers worried that the rest of the building might come down.
On the lighter side, the San Diego Tribune reports a clutch of ten ducklings hatched in the nearby Oceanside Civic Center fountain, but had no way of getting out of the water. (You must know by now that baby ducks have to dry off on land from time to time). A kindly maintenance engineer built them a ramp to make their egress, which they haven’t yet used, but they have a ledge to stand on. That’s is NOT good enough: they should put a big platform attacked to the foundation. Most important, there’s no food there: they need to feed the ducks!! The report adds, “Wildlife rescue officials have been contacted and may come take the birds away, she said.Wildlife rescue officials have been contacted and may come take the birds away.” It will be hard to catch the entire brood AND the mother, as you want to keep the family together if you’re moving them to a more suitable location. (h/t Susan)
Here’s a photo of the precarious ledge. I hope the ducks get proper help.
A British man has broken the Guinness world record for constructing the tallest stack of M&Ms. Guess how tall it is? Not high; the answer is below (h/t Ginger K.)
Yep, just five. I’d think a Guinness guy would have to provide the M&Ms and be on the spot lest someone engage in chicanery with glue or other sticky substances.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 604,756, an increase of 263 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,972,356, an increase of about 8,500 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on July 2 includes:
- 1698 – Thomas Savery patents the first steam engine.
- 1776 – American Revolution: The Continental Congress adopts a resolution severing ties with the Kingdom of Great Britain although the wording of the formal Declaration of Independence is not published until July 4.
- 1816 – The French frigate Méduse strikes the Bank of Arguin and 151 people on board have to be evacuated on an improvised raft, a case immortalised by Géricault‘s painting The Raft of the Medusa.
Here’s that painting, from 1818-1819, which you can see in the Louvre. Of the 151 passengers, only 15 were alive when the raft was rescued 13 days later.
- 1839 – Twenty miles off the coast of Cuba, 53 kidnapped Africans led by Joseph Cinqué mutiny and take over the slave ship Amistad.
The mutineers were freed by the Supreme Court on the grounds that they were rightfully revolting against the slave trade, which had been declared illegal.
Here’s a photo of that first Zeppelin flight:
- 1934 – The Night of the Long Knives ends with the death of Ernst Röhm.
- 1937 – Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan are last heard from over the Pacific Ocean while attempting to make the first equatorial round-the-world flight.
Here’s Earhart just before leaving on her last flight. The plane is a Lockheed Model 10-E Electra.
- 1964 – Civil rights movement: U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964 meant to prohibit segregation in public places.
- 1976 – End of South Vietnam; Communist North Vietnam annexes the former South Vietnam to form the unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
- 1990 – In the 1990 Mecca tunnel tragedy, 1,400 Muslim pilgrims are suffocated to death and trampled upon in a pedestrian tunnel leading to the holy city of Mecca.
- 2002 – Steve Fossett becomes the first person to fly solo around the world nonstop in a balloon.
Here’s the gondola of his balloon, the Spirit of Freedom; the flight, leaving from and landing in Australia, lasted 13 days and 8 hours.
Notables born on this day include:
When I was a teenager, I read several books by Hesse but didn’t like them. I didn’t know what he looked like, so I just looked him up, and he looks pretty much like I imagined.
That’s the shirt with the alligator on it.
- 1908 – Thurgood Marshall, American lawyer and jurist, 32nd Solicitor General of the United States (d. 1993)
Marshall was the first black Supreme Court Justice, appointed by LBJ in 1967. Here he is in the Oval Office, presumably after a chat with the President:
- 1925 – Medgar Evers, American soldier and activist (d. 1963)
- 1937 – Richard Petty, American race car driver and sportscaster
- 1947 – Larry David, American actor, comedian, producer, and screenwriter
- 1956 – Jerry Hall, American model and actress
When I was researching my children’s book about cats in Bangalore, the hero, Mr. Das, acquired a new stray female kitten. I proposed to call her Jerry, but Mr. Das said that women weren’t named Jerry. I then googled Jerry Hall and showed her to him, and he agreed to name the cat after me.
- 1990 – Margot Robbie, Australian actress and producer
Those who perished from this Earth on July 2 include:
- 1566 – Nostradamus, French astrologer and author (b. 1503)
- 1961 – Ernest Hemingway, American novelist, short story writer, and journalist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1899)
Here’s a photo of Hemingway from the Daily Beast accompanying a misguided article called “Why the hell are we still reading Ernest Hemingway?” Perhaps because he wrote some really terrific stuff.
- 1973 – Betty Grable, American actress, singer, and dancer (b. 1916)
Here’s Grable in what was undoubtedly the most popular “pin up girl” affixed to walls by soldiers in World War II. The caption: “Grable’s iconic over-the-shoulder pose from 1943 (due to the fact she was visibly pregnant) was a World War II bestseller, showing off her ‘Million Dollar Legs'”. The photo was by Frank Powolny.
- 1977 – Vladimir Nabokov, Russian-born novelist and critic (b. 1899)
- 1991 – Lee Remick, American actress (b. 1935)
- 1997 – James Stewart, American actor (b. 1908)
- 2007 – Beverly Sills, American operatic soprano and television personality (b. 1929)
- 2016 – Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, activist, and author (b. 1928)
Here’s Wiesel photographed in the concentration camp of Buchenwald on April 16, 1945, four days after the camp was liberated. I’ve circled him:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron have a chinwag about a snack:
Hili: Did you see something tasty?Szaron: I did but it flew away.
Hili: Widziałeś gdzieś coś smacznego?Szaron: Widziałem, ale odfrunęło.
And we have Mietek and Leon together! Malgorzata explains:
“This is an old saying which means that two heads are better than one, or two people can solve problems better than just one. I don’t know whether you have something like that in English.”
Indeed we do! So let the caption be “two cat heads are better than one.”
From Jesus of the Day. If you don’t understand this, you’re too young.
A clever ad from reader David:
A tweet from Barry, whose email says, “Aliens have visited Earth. . . . I just had no idea that they’d be so cute!”
What kinda creature is this? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/DrwsOCTm0c
— 😈 Satan's PA. 😈 (@MeeMeeMya) June 29, 2021
Here’s a tweet sent by Luana and issued by Democratic Senator Ed Markey from Massachusetts; it shows the the inequity of heat distribution:
Extreme heat is a justice issue. Within the same city, some neighborhoods can be up to 20°F hotter than others. Studies have shown that heat risk is disproportionately distributed to communities of color in patterns associated with segregation and redlining.
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) June 29, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. The Hebrew translation is “Summer school.” That is one happy hog!
בית ספר של הקיץ pic.twitter.com/Z5BdccsrgT
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) July 1, 2021
This is like a calving iceberg. It’s geology, Jake!
A 200-foot piece of a sandstone cliff suddenly broke off and collapsed into Lake Superior, about 100 yards away from the boat of a group of friends stunned by the view. https://t.co/9q9dxwikMi pic.twitter.com/cTzdmOQ04T
— ABC News (@ABC) July 1, 2021
A tweet from Matthew. What I want to know is how Matthew knew that Harry was dreaming about drinking tea!
What does a cat think has happened when it wakes up from a dream? @profhelenward and I had a cat called Harry; when he lapped in his dream sleep we spooned drops of tea into his mouth, which he would drink. When he woke he was bemused because HE COULD STILL TASTE HIS DREAM.
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) July 1, 2021
The higher-flying individual is almost as high as the summit of Mount Everest (8849 meters). There’s not much oxygen that high, and one wonders if that’s a problem for the snipes.
Snipe (snipes???) regularly fly at 6000m when migrating. One individual reached 8,700m. Astonishing. https://t.co/MOk3IBL8je
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) July 1, 2021
Cat encounters Honorary Cat®:
It’s like Freakadilly Circus round here!! pic.twitter.com/PKqlvRXxK6
— Pickle (@PickliciousF) June 30, 2021
It’s only July 2, so I can pronounce this as Tweet of the Month:
me: do you have any books on ducks?
librarian: no, they'd fall off
— john (@mrjohndarby) June 30, 2021