Greetings on Friday, July 16, 2021: National Corn Fritters Day, celebrating a comestible rarely seen but well worth eating. Here are some; I prefer the round to the flat versions, and they’re best served with a bit of syrup:
News of the Day:
Due to the dimwitedness or ignorance of many (especially in the U.S.), or governmental lassitude, COVID-19 is having a resurgence as the infectious Delta variant strain spreads rapidly through the unvaccinated, of which there are many. Infection rates in Tokyo are higher than they’ve been in six months (some athletes have dropped out), yet they’re still going on with the Olympics. Los Angeles Country has reimposed restrictions, requiring everyone, including the vaccinated, to wear masks indoors, and infection rates (though, thank Ceiling Cat, not death rates, are rising in 40 of our 50 states. According to the Voice of America:
Only 45% of Republican have received their first dose, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. The same poll showed 86% of Democrats and 54% of independents had received at least one vaccine shot. Some minority groups are also lagging in getting vaccinated.
That is WAY too low. 98 million Americans remain unvaccinated, and most of these are not too young nor immunocompromised. They’re just dumb or too ignorant to do the most elementary research. Vaccine is available everywhere. Right now, only 0.8% of COVID deaths occur in people who are fully vaccinated.
More divisions in America: From a YouGov/Bright Line Watch poll, analyzed on Christopher Ingraham’s Substack site, we learn that a substantial proportion of Americans, especially in the South, want to secede from the U.S. and form a regional country. Here are the data, which also show nearly half of the Democrats on the Left Coast favoring seceding as well. Is there a new civil war in the offing. Not likely! This is just sentiment—but it’s sentiment showing the deep rifts among Americans. (h/t Paul)
Liberals have been calling for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who is 82, to retire, allowing Biden to appoint a presumably liberal replacement. (This argument is made out of fear that the Republicans will win the Presidency in 2024). According to the CNN report below, Breyer has made no decision about retirement.
Justice Stephen Breyer has not decided when he will retire and is especially gratified with his new role as the senior liberal on the bench, he told @JoanBiskupic in an exclusive interview.https://t.co/IpZTDN6w0Y pic.twitter.com/XXDG3f7qbv
— New Day (@NewDay) July 15, 2021
In a remarkable achievement, involving 128 electrodes implanted in speech-related areas of the brain of a paralyzed man and AI training of a computer, researchers have enabled the man to “speak” sentences to a computer, which can either display them or speak them itself.
[Pancho] has not been able to speak since 2003, when he was paralyzed at age 20 by a severe stroke after a terrible car crash.
Now, in a scientific milestone, researchers have tapped into the speech areas of his brain — allowing him to produce comprehensible words and sentences simply by trying to say them. When the man, known by his nickname, Pancho, tries to speak, electrodes implanted in his brain transmit signals to a computer that displays his intended words on the screen.
His first recognizable sentence, researchers said, was, “My family is outside.”
The achievement, published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, could eventually help many patients with conditions that steal their ability to talk.
I’m just glad I’m alive when I see stuff like this. When the world looks bleak, science and its ability to help people make it a bit brighter.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 607,704, an increase of 280 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,084,260, an increase of about 8,700 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on July 16 includes:
- 622 – The beginning of the Islamic calendar.
- 1228 – The canonization of Saint Francis of Assisi
- 1661 – The first banknotes in Europe are issued by the Swedish bank Stockholms Banco.
Here’s what they looked like:
- 1769 – Father Junípero Serra founds California’s first mission, Mission San Diego de Alcalá. Over the following decades, it evolves into the city of San Diego, California.
- 1790 – The District of Columbia is established as the capital of the United States after signature of the Residence Act.
- 1858 – The last apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France.
Bernadette joined the Sisters of Charity, and died of tuberculosis at 35. Here’s a photo of her as a nun in 1866. Her visions, of course, created a cottage industry of Catholic “healing” at Lourdes. Yet it’s failed to restore sight to the blind, or regrow a single amputated limb.
- 1861 – American Civil War: At the order of President Abraham Lincoln, Union troops begin a 25-mile march into Virginia for what will become the First Battle of Bull Run, the first major land battle of the war.
- 1915 – Henry James becomes a British citizen to highlight his commitment to Britain during the first World War.
- 1935 – The world’s first parking meter is installed in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
- 1941 – Joe DiMaggio hits safely for the 56th consecutive game, a streak that still stands as an MLB record.
The next closest player is Willie Keeler, who had 45 consecutive games with hits, but over two seasons in 1896–7. This is considered one of baseball’s “unbreakable records” (read the Wikipedia entry on that topic.)
- 1945 – World War II: The heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis leaves San Francisco with parts for the atomic bomb “Little Boy” bound for Tinian Island.
Here’s Little Boy, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima: “Little Boy was 9,700 pounds, 10-feet long, and just over 2 feet in diameter.”
- 1945 – Manhattan Project: The Atomic Age begins when the United States successfully detonates a plutonium-based test nuclear weapon near Alamogordo, New Mexico.
This was the famous “Trinity Test,” and here’s a nice 45-minute documentary of the endeavor that will get you up to speed. I still think that a “test” demonstration that didn’t kill anybody might have brought the war to an end without the horrendous toll of life.
- 1948 – The storming of the cockpit of the Miss Macao passenger seaplane, operated by a subsidiary of the Cathay Pacific Airways, marks the first aircraft hijacking of a commercial plane.
- 1969 – Apollo program: Apollo 11, the first mission to land astronauts on the Moon, is launched from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Kennedy, Florida.
Here’s the beginning of that famous expedition—the launch.
- 1979 – Iraqi President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr resigns and is replaced by Saddam Hussein.
- 1999 – John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife, Carolyn, and her sister, Lauren Bessette, died when the Piper Saratoga PA-32R aircraft he was piloting crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.
- 2004 – Millennium Park, considered Chicago’s first and most ambitious early 21st-century architectural project, is opened to the public by Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Here’s what may be the most famous artwork in Chicago, “the bean”, whose formal name is “Cloud Gate“. You haven’t visited Chicago unless you’ve photographed your reflection in The Bean:
Notables born on this day include:
I can’t find any cat paintings by Reynolds, but here’s a print “after Reynolds” by Francesco Bartolozzi, “The girl with kitten” (1787). If you’re a good reader, you’ll find out if Reynolds drew an original.
- 1821 – Mary Baker Eddy, American religious leader and author, founded Christian Science (d. 1910)
- 1887 – Shoeless Joe Jackson, American baseball player and manager (d. 1951)
- 1911 – Ginger Rogers, American actress, singer, and dancer (d. 1995)
She was perhaps most famous for being one of Fred Astaire’s best dance partners. Here are some highlights of their performances:
- 1924 – Bess Myerson, American model, actress, game show panelist, and politician, Miss America 1945 (d. 2014)
The first Jewish Miss America!
A one hit wonder in the U.S., Dekker did a song I do like: “Israelites”
Those who began pining for the fjords on July 16 include:
- 1882 – Mary Todd Lincoln, First Lady of the United States 1861-1865 (b. 1818)
- 1981 – Harry Chapin, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1942)
Chapin, who died young in a car crash, was perhaps best known for this song (there’s a bit of biography at the beginning). It reminds me (as it must remind many) of coming home from college:
- 1999 – John F. Kennedy Jr., American lawyer and publisher (b. 1960)
- 2014 – Johnny Winter, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1944)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the power is back, and so is Hili! Here she ponders free will
Hili: There is no choice.A: About what?Hili: I have to lie down here until I get up.
Hili: Nie ma wyboru.Ja: W jakiej sprawie?Hili: Muszę tu leżeć dopóki nie wstanę.
From reader Pliny the in Between’s Far Corner Cafe:
Posted on Facebook by Seth Andrews:
From Jesus of the Day. This person knows how to advertise!
Two tweets from Barry. First, a cat fails at math!
— Steve Stewart-Williams (@SteveStuWill) July 14, 2021
And of course you need to see a tree kangaroo eating broccoli:
— James West (@jameswest2010) July 14, 2021
From gravelinspector. I can’t verify that the episode is real, but it’s still funny:
Why this advice columnist got fired. pic.twitter.com/7Qxed9vP5s
— Lorenzo The Cat (@LorenzoTheCat) July 13, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. I love this first one:
From the Archives: Libyan Desert glass, the canary-yellow material used for the central scarab on King Tut’s pectoral, was formed about 29 million years ago by a meteorite impact in Egypt’s western desert.https://t.co/SgqzjCRGpn pic.twitter.com/UXFrMkwar5
— Archaeology Magazine (@archaeologymag) July 14, 2021
And I especially love these old clay tablets that show that although the medium has changed, the message hasn’t
A Babylonian scribal student practicing the sign "DINGIR" 𒀭 which looks like a star sometime between 2000 and 1600 BCE pic.twitter.com/CiWhnrAEf1
— Dr. Moudhy Al-Rashid (@Moudhy) July 15, 2021
A Babylonian artist in the making several millennia ago in a scribal school in what is now Iraq.
On one side of a clay tablet, there are writing exercises and on the other side, this lovely drawing of a fish and a goat (I think) 🧡 pic.twitter.com/8diMI0sY8F
— Dr. Moudhy Al-Rashid (@Moudhy) July 15, 2021
Finally, Matthew’s cats. In order from left to right: Pepper, Harry, and Ollie the Devil Cat:
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) July 15, 2021