Greetings on the Cat Sabbath: Saturday, July 17, 2021: National Peach Ice-Cream Day (why the hyphen between “ice” and “cream”?). It’s also National Tattoo Day (some day I must have a post in which readers post their tattoos. Please take a picture now, though!), Wrong Way Corrigan Day (celebrating the day in 1938 when Douglas Corrigan, pretending to fly from New York to California, crossed the Atlantic and landed in Dublin). He never admitted that he made the flight intentionally, though of course he did. The New York Post printed its August 5 headline—celebrating Corrigan’s return to New York—backwards:
News of the Day:
Did you know that South Africa is melting down—experiencing a crisis from which it might not recover? Former President Jacob Zuma, a crook if ever there was one, was arrested and jailed for contempt of court for refusing to testify about the corruption of his government. Although he’s a bad piece of work, Zuma has many followers, and many of them, in a faux “demonstration”, are now simply looting parts of the country to absolute emptiness, and 212 have died. Many stores have had every ware in them stolen. (The violence is concentrated in KwaZulu-Natal, where Grania volunteered to teach school for several years.) The cops can’t stop the looting, which comes on top of an impoverished population laid low by COVID. Were Grania alive, I would dearly like to hear her take on this.
While South Africa melts down, Germany and Belgium are washed out with severe flooding. In some places six months’ worth of rain fell in a single day. The death toll is over 125, and over 1,300 are missing. Never in my life did I think I’d see such flood-induced carnage in that part of the world.
According to Reuters, a federal judge in Texas (of course) blocked new applications for the “dreamers” initiative, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that gave immigrant children who came to America a path to citizenship. Judge Andrew Hansen said that Obama’s creation of the program in 2012 was illegal, but added that those already here under that program could continue on. Although Biden pledged to continue the program, it looks as if this one is bound for the Supreme Court, and I don’t have high hopes for DACA there.
This is a remarkable advance in biochemistry. A neural-network-based Google computer program, DeepMind AlphaFold2, also known as AlphaFold, has been shown to be able to take the “linear” amino acid sequence of a protein and predict how it will fold up into a three-dimensional structure with remarkable accuracy. This was heretofore almost impossible given the varieties of way a protein could conceivably assume a three-dimensional shape, and has huge ramifications for both our pure knowledge of biochemistry and for medicine. The two papers are are out today in Science and Nature., and can be seen at the links. (h/t: Bryan)
An artist in Italy auctioned off an invisible “conceptual” sculpture for $18,300. The artist, Salvatore Garau, sold literally nothing. What did the credulous buyer get for their money? ArtNet News reports:
The lucky buyer went home with a certificate of authenticity and a set of instructions: the work, per Garau, must be exhibited in a private house in a roughly five-by-five-foot space free of obstruction.
“When I decide to ‘exhibit’ an immaterial sculpture in a given space, that space will concentrate a certain amount and density of thoughts at a precise point, creating a sculpture that, from my title, will only take the most varied forms,” the artist went on.
If you thought that was artsy claptrap, he goes on to draw a rather lofty comparison to the work: “After all, don’t we shape a God we’ve never seen?” he added.
The artist didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Here’s the artist, who made a bit of dosh from doing almost nothing:
I wouldn’t pay a plugged nickel for a sculpture of the conceptual (and nonexistent) God.
More lighthearted news. Why do hot dogs come in packs of 10 but hot dog buns in packs of 8? (To even out the number of dogs and buns, you’d have to buy five packs of buns and four of dogs.) Have you ever noticed that? If you have, so has Heinz The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Heinz company has started a change.org petition called The Heinz Hot Dog Pact whose motto is “10 Wieners. 10 Buns. It’s time.” It’s already garnered 28,500 signatures, though what effect it will have is dubious. But frankly (pardon the pun), I’m tired of cutting up the last two dogs and stuffing them in a but that already holds another dog. Not that I eat hot dogs that often, but still . . . I signed the petition (h/t Ginger K).
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 608,070, an increase of 273 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,093,043, an increase of about 8,800 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on July 17 includes:
- 180 – Twelve inhabitants of Scillium (near Kasserine, modern-day Tunisia) in North Africa are executed for being Christians. This is the earliest record of Christianity in that part of the world.
- 1821 – The Kingdom of Spain cedes the territory of Florida to the United States.
- 1902 – Willis Carrier creates the first air conditioner in Buffalo, New York.
Here’s an early one. You couldn’t exactly put this in your window! (Carrier is of course still a big name in air conditioning):
- 1917 – King George V issues a Proclamation stating that the male line descendants of the British Royal Family will bear the surname Windsor.
- 1918 – Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his immediate family and retainers are executed by Bolshevik Chekists at the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg, Russia.
Here’s a 14-minute film of what the execution and preparations for it was like. WARNING: the shooting is quite gory:
- 1938 – Douglas Corrigan takes off from Brooklyn to fly the “wrong way” to Ireland and becomes known as “Wrong Way” Corrigan.
- 1945 – World War II: The main three leaders of the Allied nations, Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman and Joseph Stalin, meet in the German city of Potsdam to decide the future of a defeated Germany.
- 1955 – Disneyland is dedicated and opened by Walt Disney in Anaheim, California.
Here’s the parking lot on opening day:
- 1976 – The opening of the Summer Olympics in Montreal is marred by 25 African teams boycotting the games because of New Zealand’s participation. Contrary to rulings by other international sports organizations, the IOC had declined to exclude New Zealand because of their participation in South African sporting events during apartheid.
- 1984 – The national drinking age in the United States was changed from 18 to 21.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1871 – Lyonel Feininger, German-American painter and illustrator (d. 1956)
Although he painted no cats, Feinnger is still one of my favorite modern painters. Here’s one of his works, The Market Church at Halle (1930):
- 1899 – James Cagney, American actor and dancer (d. 1986)
Below: Cagney’s famous demise as a a ganster in the movie White Heat (1949) “Top of the World”.
I don’t know this guy, and I doubt he’s a relative, but I have to put in every famous Coyne who appears in the Wikipedia pages.
- 1921 – Louis Lachenal, French mountaineer (d. 1955)
Lachenal, along with Maurice Herzog, was one of the first two people to climb an 8,000-meter peak, which happened to be Annapurna I in the Himalayas (they reached the top in 1950). You can read his story in the great mountaineering book Annapurna, by Herzog. Below is the iconic photo Lachenal took of Herzog standing on the summit of Annapurna I. After the climb, Lachenal lost all his toes to frostbite; Herzog lost all his fingers and toes. Read the book! Lachenal died at 34 while skiing into a snow-covered crevasse.
- 1954 – Angela Merkel, German chemist and politician, Chancellor of Germany
Those who departed this vale of tears on July 17 include:
- 1790 – Adam Smith, Scottish economist and philosopher (b. 1723)
- 1912 – Henri Poincaré, French mathematician, physicist, and engineer (b. 1854)
- 1918 – Victims of the Shooting of the Romanov family
- Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia (b. 1901)
- Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia (b. 1899)
- Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia (b. 1895)
- Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna of Russia (b. 1897)
- Alexandra Fyodorovna of Russia (b. 1872)
- Aleksei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia (b. 1904)
- Nikolai II of Russia (b. 1868)
- Anna Demidova (b. 1878)
- Ivan Kharitonov (b. 1872)
- Alexei Trupp (b. 1858)
- Yevgeny Botkin (b. 1865)
See movie clip above.
Lady Day still had it at the end of her career. Here’s a live version of “Fine and Mellow” recorded in 1957, and look at the musicians! Besides Billie, there’s Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, and Lester Young on tenor sax, Gerry Mulligan on baritone sax, Roy Eldridge on trumpet, and Milt Hinton on double bass.
- 1967 – John Coltrane, American saxophonist and composer (b. 1926)
A great Coltrane Quintet cover of “My Favorite Things” (who woulda thought it could become a great jazz song?). The other members are jazz icons, too, with Eric Dolphy on flute, Elvin Jones on drums, McCoy Tyner on piano, and Reggie Workman on bass.
- 1974 – Dizzy Dean, American baseball player and sportscaster (b. 1910)
- 2009 – Walter Cronkite, American journalist and actor (b. 1916)
- 2020 – John Lewis, American Politician and Civil Rights Leader. (b. 1940)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili has had enough of being outside:
Hili: Rationality has prevailed.Me: Really?Hili: Yes, it’s time to go home.
Hili: Racjonalizm zwyciężył.Ja: Naprawdę?Hili: Tak, pora wracać do domu.
And Andrzej’s photo of Szaron:
We have three cat memes today. The first is from Divy:
From reader John, who captions this, “And though shalt worship no other God but CAT”:
From Jesus of the Day:
Two tweets from Barry. The first is one of the most remarkable examples of crypsis I know of. Moths usually fly by night and rest during the day, so they have to be well camouflaged when it’s light out. Perhaps that’s why so many moths are cryptic. This one mimics a cut twig. Be sure to watch the video.
Look at this moth from the genus Phalera
It looks like a fragment of twig complete with chipped bark and even the layering of wood tissue at the “cut” ends…perfectly resembling a broken piece of wood to avoid predation. pic.twitter.com/PShHPk25jE
— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) July 14, 2021
Whoever adrienne michel is, he/she is absolutely dead wrong, and on both counts. No recantation, and evolution is both a theory and a fact.
I've moved beyond "stop the planet; I want to get off" and onward to "stop the planet; I want inertia to hurl all evidence of human civilization into deep space where it will remain undiscovered forever." pic.twitter.com/ytr4YdI3tW
— Take That Darwin (@TakeThatDarwin) July 14, 2021
Tweets from Matthew, who says, “correlation can be causation.” Indeed.
What a chart pic.twitter.com/2KaHsosfQg
— Marcel Dirsus (@marceldirsus) July 14, 2021
Lucifer the Kitten grows up and does pitty-pat in the way he experienced it.
Even anilmals feel love 💔😍 pic.twitter.com/bDWQHQE7DB
— Error 404 (@Error4019082820) July 16, 2021
If you’re into Darwiniana, here’s some news for you:
A new Darwin letter, some new ones in print & some translations of Darwin articles. Just a few highights of the hundreds of new items we have added over the past weeks. #CharlesDarwin #HistSci #DarwinOnline https://t.co/2dFL9nEuaR pic.twitter.com/GRgC9zwxV3
— DarwinOnline (@uk_darwin) July 16, 2021
What is this insect? The answer is in the thread. You’ll be surprised.
— Cath HODSMAN, Insect Art (@CathHodsman) July 15, 2021
Beewolves are wasps in the genus Philanthus; they prey on bees that they stuff in burrows to provision their young:
The strength of a Beewolf, hunting and carrying Honey Bees to incarcerate down her burrow as food for her offspring. The world going on at our feet along #DiggerAlley @RSPBMinsmere @lottieglover23 @WaspWoman @Liam_M_Crowley @MeganMcCubbin pic.twitter.com/N8cKOQDW4l
— Whistling Joe (@whistling_joe) July 15, 2021
This kid is quite flummoxed and amused.
Close the circuit 👨👩👦😅 pic.twitter.com/blgt0eNuNO
— Error 404 (@Error4019082820) July 15, 2021