Greetings on a rainy Chicago Tuesday: July 13, 2021: National French Fry Day, or, as they once were called by Republicans after France refused to invade Iraq, “Freedom Fries”. It’s also Bean ‘n’ Franks Day (what? only a single bean?), Embrace Your Geekness Day, and Barbershop Music Appreciation Day. Here’s a barbershop quartet, Signature, for your delectation.
News of the Day:
It’s now 174 days since Biden moved into the White House. That’s nearly six months, but WHERE IS THEIR PROMISED CAT? Does anybody want to bet me that the Biden’s will get a cat? (I’m guessing no.)
BIG TROUBLE IN TEXAS! In an attempt to sabotage the restrictive Republican voting-rights bill before the Texas legislature, at least 58 Democratic members of the state House of Representatives plan to flee the state for Washington, D.C. That would deprive the House of the two-thirds majority needed to enact regulation. But the Dems would have to stay away through the entire legislative session, which could go on for more than a month. But wait! There’s more!:
The lawmakers risk arrest in taking flight. Under the Texas Constitution, the Legislature requires a quorum of two-thirds of lawmakers be present to conduct state business in either chamber. Absent lawmakers can be legally compelled to return to the Capitol, and the source said Democrats expect state Republicans to ask the Department of Public Safety to track them down.
I don’t think they can be arrested if they’re out of the state. But the GOP is going to lasso those renegade Democrats and drag ’em back to Austin! Stay tuned for big fun.
Is your car warranty up to date? The government has initiated a new partnership with phone companies to block these odious robocalls, and the NYT has an article about that scheme and some tips about what to do to stem the annoying tide of people asking about your warranty. Some info:
At the center of the effort is Stir/Shaken, the technology that aims to verify calls as they move through networks to recipients. (The name Stir/Shaken is derived from Secure Telephone Identity Revisited and Signature-Based Handling of Asserted Information Using Tokens. You can see why they went with the nickname.)
. . .While some robocalls are legal — such as recorded messages about school closings and political campaigns — most are not, according to industry estimates.
YouMail, a call-blocking company, estimates that 4.4 billion robocalls were placed to consumers in the United States in June, about 573 million of them auto warranty and health-related scams.
I wrote this in the news items yesterday:
Furnace Creek in Death Valley, where I spent several months (in Spring!) working on fruit flies, hit 130°F (54.4°C) Friday, tying a mark from August of last year. It’s not yet a record as there’s a disputed recording of 134°F from that site in 1913. But if the earlier record proves untrustworthy, then we have a new record for the highest temperature ever reliably recorded on Earth. (The standard measurement is taken 1.5 meters above the ground, with the recording device shielded from direct sunlight. Temperatures might even reach 132°F today.
I found the photo below on public Facebook, and if it were true it would be a world record high for the entire planet, breaking the dubious 1913 record of 134 degrees. But I couldn’t verify the temperature below, which is at a place I know well, Furnace Creek Visitor’s Center. In fact, I just found out from a WaPo article that this is a fake record:
But the big digital National Park Service thermometer that caused so much excitement sits in intense sunlight, while the National Weather Service draws its official readings from a shaded sensor with more complex instrumentation. By 5 p.m. Saturday, that sensor had peaked at 129.4 degrees — a touch lower than the record.
But another record was set on Sunday, as the WaPo reports:
When dawn broke Sunday in Death Valley, Calif., the low temperature was a sweltering 107.7 degrees, the highest ever recorded in North America. By the late afternoon, the mercury had swelled to a blazing 128.6 degrees. The combination of the two produced the highest daily average temperature observed on the planet: 118.1 degrees.
This temperature was recorded at Stovepipe Wells, near the northern Park entrance—not the usual spot for setting heat records. I’ve been to Death Valley when it was about 120°F (49°C), and the heat was ungodly—i.e., hellish. Even as an impecunious postdoc, I had to spring for a $50 motel room at Furnace Creek to get the air conditioning. I was trying to see if there were any Drosophila flies there in the summer, and guess what? Not a damn fly to be found. Yet they appear in the millions in March.
Speaking of booster shots, the Washington Post reports that Israel is already giving third-dose Pfizer booster shots to severely immunocompromised patients. Older people may be next in line. A quote:
Eyal Leshem, an infectious-disease specialist at Sheba Medical Center, said that while Israel’s Health Ministry would likely not make a third shot available to the general public any time soon, this move may open the path toward targeting specific vulnerable populations who are known to have reduced protection when compared with the healthy population.
Also from the NYT: Three black players for England who missed penalty kicks in their team’s loss to Italy, and who happen to be black, have been subjected to racist abuse on social media. This is unconscionable and may even be illegal in the UK (though not in the US). Legal or not, it does nothing to lift the veil of racism and roughneck-ism draped around British soccer.
And Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter theme park is now adding a replica Tower of Babel. And it deals with race!:
According to Ark Encounter’s press release, this Tower of Babel model will “tackle racism issues, showing how all people groups have developed from one biological race.” This attraction will also be accompanied by an indoor scale model of what Jerusalem may have looked like at the time of Christ alongside a ‘themed carousel.’
I wonder what the Ur-race will be. (h/t Ginger K)
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 606,577, an increase of 255 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,056,845, an increase of about 6,600 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on July 13 includes:
- 587 BC – Babylon’s siege of Jerusalem ends following the destruction of Solomon’s Temple.
- 1793 – Journalist and French revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat is assassinated in his bathtub by Charlotte Corday, a member of the opposing political faction.
Here’s Jean-Louis David’s famous painting of that incident, The Death of Marat (1793) with a detail:
Corday was guillotined for the murder. Wikipedia gives a closeup of the letter he’s holding and a translation:
Detail of The Death of Marat showing the paper held in Marat’s left hand. The letter reads “Il suffit que je sois bien malheureuse pour avoir droit a votre bienveillance” which means “Given that I am unhappy, I have a right to your help“
- 1863 – New York City draft riots: In New York City, opponents of conscription begin three days of rioting which will be later regarded as the worst in United States history.
This was not just a protest against the draft for the Civil War, against the fact that richer men could buy their way out of the draft, combined with racism based on fear that free blacks could take the jobs of whites.
This is regarded as the foundation of AI as a field. The summer workshop included the following participants:
For the full period:
- 1) Dr. Marvin Minsky
- 2) Dr. Julian Bigelow
- 3) Professor D.M. Mackay
- 4) Mr. Ray Solomonoff
- 5) Mr. John Holland
- 6) Mr. John McCarthy
For four weeks:
For the first two weeks:
- 1962 – In an unprecedented action, British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan dismisses seven members of his Cabinet, marking the effective end of the National Liberals as a distinct force within British politics.
- 1973 – Watergate scandal: Alexander Butterfield reveals the existence of a secret Oval Office taping system to investigators for the Senate Watergate Committee.
Here’s Butterfield’s BIG REVEAL:
- 1977 – New York City: Amidst a period of financial and social turmoil experiences an electrical blackout lasting nearly 24 hours that leads to widespread fires and looting.
So much for defunding the police! Here’s a photo:
- 1985 – The Live Aid benefit concert takes place in London and Philadelphia, as well as other venues such as Moscow and Sydney.
Here are the epic 21 minutes of Queen’s Live Aid performance. It was watching this that made me appreciate Freddy Mercury:
- 1985 – Vice President George H. W. Bush becomes the Acting President for the day when President Ronald Reagan undergoes surgery to remove polyps from his colon.
- 2016 – Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron resigns, and is succeeded by Theresa May.
Notables born on this day include:
This is also included under July 12 (see yesterday). Get it straight, Wikipedia!
- 1864 – John Jacob Astor IV, American colonel and businessman (d. 1912).
One of the richest men in the world, Astor, a business magnate, was also the richest man on the Titanic, but he perished when it sank. Here’s a photo:
- 1894 – Isaac Babel, Russian short story writer, journalist, and playwright (d. 1940)
- 1937 – Ghillean Prance, English botanist and ecologist
- 1940 – Paul Prudhomme, American chef and author (d. 2015)
- 1940 – Patrick Stewart, English actor, director, and producer
- 1942 – Harrison Ford, American actor and producer
- 1942 – Roger McGuinn, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
- 1946 – Cheech Marin, American actor and comedian
Cheech and Chong today (Cheech, contrary to what you think, doesn’t speak fluent Spanish):
Those who were no more on the 13th of July include:
- 1793 – Jean-Paul Marat, French physician and theorist (b. 1743)
- 1946 – Alfred Stieglitz, American photographer and curator (b. 1864)
Steiglitz was the father of modern American photography. Here’s one of his famous photos, “The Steerage” (1907)
- 1951 – Arnold Schoenberg, Austrian-American composer and painter (b. 1874)
- 1954 – Frida Kahlo, Mexican painter and educator (b. 1907)
Here’s a 1951 photo of Kahlo by Florence Arquin; I believe Kahlo’s wearing one of her casts because of her back injuries, and has decorated it appropriately:
- 1960 – Joy Davidman, American-English poet and author (b. 1915)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is being bossy about the garden again (power is now restored in Dobrzyn!):
Hili: You have to clear away these apples.A: I don’t have time.Hili: I’m not going to do it for you.
Hili: Musisz pozbierać te jabłka.Ja: Nie mam czasu.Hili: Ja tego za ciebie nie zrobię.
A meme from Barry:
A useful tip from Nicole:
This was tweeted by Gervais himself, and yes, it’s pretty embarrassing:
ricky gervais is trending let's all remember the most embarrassing image of all time pic.twitter.com/uy06TnW3st
— ボブ (@weeabob) July 9, 2021
Luana sent a tweet showing CRT in action at Penn State:
Penn State Professor pulls an “average white student” from the lecture audience and explains that he has an inherent benefit over a black student because he is white.
Critical Race Theory pedagogy teaches the same lessons to k-12 students. This is why it does not belong in k-12. pic.twitter.com/duIYlB0Jdu
— Mythinformed MKE (@MythinformedMKE) July 12, 2021
A tweet from Barry. Do watch the entire video, as there are some amazing shots of octopuses in action—presented with humor (and profanity):
The greatest 9 minutes you will ever watch.
— Bryant (@Name_Failed) July 12, 2021
Tweets from Matthew, who must be worn out:
LIFE GOALS https://t.co/Iey23YLShP
— Dr. Anna Fagre, DVM, PhD, MPH (she/they) (@annafagre) July 12, 2021
Live and Learn Department:
I discovered that the word ‘helpmeet’ is a ghost word, based on a conflation of the bona fide ‘helpmate’ and a misreading of a line in the KJB: Adam will have Eve as ‘an help meet [i.e. suitable] for him’.
That’s my news. Anything else happening today?https://t.co/7S93YJOZQG
— Tim Whitmarsh (@Twhittermarsh) July 11, 2021
Matthew’s caption: “Reading the rude bits before chucking them on the fire.”
Jehan Georges Vibert – The committee on moral books (1866) pic.twitter.com/rlJKhNUCpL
— Diane Doniol-Valcroze (@ddoniolvalcroze) June 29, 2021
There are lots of answers in the thread. . .
Wrong answers only: pic.twitter.com/DOEy4Wm84C
— Dallas Campbell (@dallascampbell) June 28, 2021
Yes, she did have a pet lion. Its name was Neil, and he sometimes slept in bed with her.
Tippi Hedren and her pet lion “Neil”, 1971 pic.twitter.com/hwPwKElZXJ
— Diane Doniol-Valcroze (@ddoniolvalcroze) June 27, 2021