Greetings on Monday: July 12, 2021: National Pecan Pie Day: the Best of All Possible Pies (fresh strawberry pie is a close second). When buying the pecan pie, make sure the pecans are interspersed throughout the pie and don’t just form a thin layer on top of a molasses/gelatin base! It’s also National Eat Your Jell-O Day, Simplicity Day, and a special holiday for cats: Paper Bag Day. Finally, in a country where I worked on flies, it’s Independence Day, celebrating the independence of São Tomé and Príncipe from Portugal in 1975 (see below). It’s also Julius Caesar’s 2121st birthday (see below).
I am still sad about the bereft duck mother from yesterday, and posting may be light today. If she’s still at the pond quacking for her ducklings, I’ll just die.
News of the Day:
The big news is that Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Unity 22 space flight was a success. As the NYT reports:
Cars drove Mr. Branson and his crewmates to the plane on Sunday, and the flight took off on Sunday morning around 10:40 a.m. Eastern time from Spaceport America in New Mexico, about 180 miles south of Albuquerque.
The space plane separated from the carrier ship around 11:25 a.m. and ignited its engine for about 60 seconds, carrying Mr. Branson and the crew into space. Video footage from the live stream showed him and the crew experiencing weightlessness.
Minutes later, the plane began its return to Earth in a glide, and soon landed safely on the spaceport’s runway. Mr. Branson, speaking into a camera in the plane’s cabin during the glide, called it “an experience of a lifetime.”
Branson is a happy billionaire for sure. Is it worth $250,000 for the rest of us? Only if you have the dosh, and even then it seems a bit pricey! And they didn’t really go into “space”—not if you use the international definition (100 km above sea level).
The plane holds two pilots and four people in the cabin. Here’s the entire livestream from Virgin, with the good part beginning about 49 minutes in and the separation from the mothership occurs at 54:12. The boundary to “space” (as defined by the US) is crossed at 56:23. The landing, as the ship glides in without power, takes place at 1:08:31. Total flight time: about 15 minutes ($17,000/minute fare).
In Europe, though, the biggest news was the match between England and Italy in the finals of the European championship: Euro 2020, played every four years. After regulation time, the score was tied 1-1, but then Italy won on penalty kicks 3-2. Matthew is happy because, though he’s a Brit, he was rooting for Italy. Further, a bunch of fans broke through the security barriers at Wembley Stadium and rushed inside, hoping to get free entrance. I believe they were ferreted out and removed.
Here are the highlights (watch quickly before they’re removed):
I feel a booster shot coming on. The Associated Press reports that officials from Pfizer will meet with U.S. government health officials today to discuss the possibility of a booster shot to deal with the new, more infectious variants. While the Voice of the Pandemic, always referred to as “Dr. Fauci”, says that we don’t have the data now to say boosters are useful, Biden’s own chief medical adviser says that “it is entirely conceivable, maybe likely” that we’ll have to get booster shots. And Pfizer says this:
Pfizer’s Dr. Mikael Dolsten told The Associated Press last week that early data from the company’s booster study suggests people’s antibody levels jump five- to 10-fold after a third dose, compared to their second dose months earlier — evidence it believes supports the need for a booster.
Oy! Will there be a mad rush for third shots? Will I have to get my laminated shot card un-laminated? Will Pfizer charge a lot for a booster? My own prediction is that we’ll have to get a COVID shot every year, just as we do now with the flu shot.
An Ohio man stopped for speeding decided he’d better swallow the bag of marijuana he was carrying before the cops found it. He choked on it, and the state trooper had to perform a Heimlich maneuver on the hapless motorist. His life was saved, but now he’s charged with speeding, failing to wear a seatbelt, and possession of marijuana. Marijuana for recreational use is still illegal in the state. (By the way, I think the Heimlich maneuever has been replaced with newer advice to pound the choking victim hard on the back repeatedly, and then reverting to the Heimlich if that doesn’t work, then more back slaps, and so on. See the new procedure here.)
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 616,316, an increase of 223 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4050,182, an increase of about 6,200 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on July 12 includes:
- AD 70 – The armies of Titus attack the walls of Jerusalem after a six-month siege. Three days later they breach the walls, which enables the army to destroy the Second Temple.
- 1493 – Hartmann Schedel‘s Nuremberg Chronicle, one of the best-documented early printed books, is published.
This is a history book, and one of the pages is reproduced in Wikipedia: “Woodcut from 1493 depicting the burning of Jews in the 14th century. Today in the Jewish Museum of Switzerland‘s collection.
- 1543 – King Henry VIII of England marries his sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr, at Hampton Court Palace.
- 1776 – Captain James Cook begins his third voyage.
- 1862 – The Medal of Honor is authorized by the United States Congress.
This is the highest award America gives for acts of bravery in the military. Wikipedia notes that “According to the Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States, there have been 3,527 Medals of Honor awarded to 3,508 individuals since the decoration’s creation, with over 40% awarded for actions during the American Civil War.” There are three versions, one each for the Air Force, Army, and Navy (in order below). I met one man who had won won: Lew Millett, an Army buddy of my dad’s, who was awarded the medal for leading the last major American bayonet charge; it was during the Korean War.
- 1962 – The Rolling Stones perform for the first time at London’s Marquee Club.
- 1963 – Pauline Reade, 16, disappears in Gorton, England, the first victim in the Moors murders.
I hadn’t heard about these murders and wonder how many Brits still know about them.
- 1971 – The Australian Aboriginal Flag is flown for the first time.
Here’s the flag:
- 1975 – São Tomé and Príncipe declare independence from Portugal.
Notables born on this day include:
- 100 BC – Julius Caesar, Roman politician and general (d. 44 BC)
- 1730 – Josiah Wedgwood, English potter, founded the Wedgwood Company (d. 1795)
Wedgewood, the grandfather of both Charles Darwin and his wife Emma (who were therefore first cousins), was already an abolitionist in the eighteenth century. Here’s his famous engraving of a slave asking for equality, though some moderns criticize this for being too supplicating. It was later made into a Wedgwood medallion.
- 1813 – Claude Bernard, French physiologist and academic (d. 1878)
- 1817 – Henry David Thoreau, American essayist, poet, and philosopher (d. 1862)
I didn’t realize that there were photos of Thoreau but Wikipedia gives two. Here’s one:
- 1884 – Louis B. Mayer, Russian-born American film producer, co-founded Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (d. 1957)
- 1895 – Kirsten Flagstad, Norwegian soprano (d. 1962)
Flagstad, a world famous singer, is touted as one of the best sopranos of all time, though I haven’t heard her voice. Here she is painted on the side of a Norwegian Air Shuttle plane:
- 1895 – Buckminster Fuller, American architect and engineer, designed the Montreal Biosphère (d. 1983)
- 1904 – Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet and diplomat, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1973)
- 1917 – Andrew Wyeth, American artist (d. 2009)
Here’s Wyeth’s painting of “Christina’s Bedroom” (1947, and yes, it’s that Christina), featuring a cat:
- 1934 – Van Cliburn, American pianist and composer (d. 2013)
- 1937 – Bill Cosby, American actor, comedian, producer, and screenwriter
- 1943 – Christine McVie, English singer-songwriter and keyboard player
In honor of McVie’s birthday, here’s one of her best songs with Fleetwood Mac (she wrote it). This is a live performance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Those four could produce a lot of sound!
- 1971 – Kristi Yamaguchi, American figure skater
Those who were no more on the 12th of July include:
- 1804 – Alexander Hamilton, American general, economist, and politician, 1st United States Secretary of the Treasury (b. 1755)
- 1935 – Alfred Dreyfus, French colonel (b. 1859)
- 1966 – D. T. Suzuki, Japanese philosopher and author (b. 1870)
- 1979 – Minnie Riperton, American singer-songwriter (b. 1947)
Riperton had the ability to sing remarkably high. As Wikipedia notes,
Riperton had a coloratura soprano vocal range. Aside from her various hits, she is perhaps best remembered today for her ability to sing in high head voice (occasionally the whistle register which is often mistakenly confused with the former), in which she had rare facility. She is known as The Nightingale, and a Songbird. Her rare ability to enunciate in the high registers set her apart from most other whistle-register singers. This feature is most notably heard in the song “Here We Go” (a duet with Peabo Bryson), where she sings “here we go” in the whistle register. Whistle-register enunciation can also be heard in songs such as “Inside My Love”, “Adventures in Paradise”, “Expecting”, “Only When I’m Dreaming”, and also in “Teach Me How to Fly” and “Like a Rolling Stone” with the Rotary Connection.
She died at only 31 of breast cancer. Here’s a live version of what became her greatest hit:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili escapes the heat (power is still wonky there, and I get the dialogues from Listy):
Hili: It was too hot in the sun.
Andrzej: And here?
Hili: It’s optimal here.
Hili: W słońcu było mi zbyt gorąco.
Ja: A tu?
Hili: Tu jest optymalnie.
Paulina has a few more photos of Baby Kulka:
Caption: Another portion of Paulina’s photos. (In Polish: “Jeszcze porcja zdjęć Pauliny.”)
From Jesus of the Day:
In Islam, dogs are considered “impure”, and in Iran it’s illegal to walk your dog. Two tweets from Masih about that:
These days, the Islamic Republic of Iran is busy killing innocent stray dogs in cities.
I wanted share this video. This brave Iranian woman is committing two crimes at the same time:
2-Walking a dog.
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) July 11, 2021
"I'll grab your little dog, put it in a bag & suffocate it"
This religious man attacked a woman for walking her dog
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) July 11, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. As far as I know, these claims are true—at least the first one.
Did you know that folks on disability in the US:
– are not allowed to save more than $2,000 (lmt set in 1989!) in their bank account?
– cannot marry OR live with a domestic partner
– are limited in how much $ they can earn working
otherwise they lose benefits + healthcare? https://t.co/MVNAyT5pj9
— human barometer, M.M. (@laurenancona) July 10, 2021
It’s so sad that this amazing animal, the Irrawaddy Dolphin of southeast Asia, is on the verge of extinction:
These incredible dolphins additionally have an amazing behavior. They perform a type of cooperative feeding by “spitting” out jets of water to herd fish into their mouths!!!
Their numbers are minority increasing but they are still very threatened. https://t.co/ATxhZ7sPiH pic.twitter.com/NzeKsCsvK7
— Brennan Stokkermans (@BStokkermans) July 11, 2021
Here’s a short video of the animal. Cambodia is protecting it, and tourism may save it, but I’m worried:
Bats are meticulous animals; sound up:
.#easternredbat #austinbat #goodgroomingnevergoesoutofstyle #batsarebeautiful #batsareclean #batslivehere #batsaregoodneighbors #batsarebeneficial #batshaveintrinsicvalue #dontblamebats pic.twitter.com/iiFhpj1to1
— Austin Bat Refuge (@AustinBatRefuge) July 11, 2021
Here is a lovely bird with young:
Large Frogmouth (Batrachostomus auritus)🐦🦜
— World birds (@worldbirds32) December 13, 2019
Caution: scorpions at work:
4x speed video of one of the scorpions doing some construction work. There’s been a lot of this the last few days – apparently this one has decided the burrow needs to be a bit bigger. Love the way it uses its “tail” to lever the mass of substrate out of the burrow entrance. pic.twitter.com/2Ft8KrzNfX
— Peggy Wolven (@vexedmuddler) June 29, 2021