Greetings on a predicted warm and sunny Friday (it’s been a good week): July 23, 2021, and National Vanilla Ice Cream Day, a flavor I eat only when mixed with fruit or maple syrup. It’s also Peanut Butter and Chocolate Day (eat a Reese’s Cup), Sprinkle Day (celebrating those odious bits of wax and sugar they put on top of cupcakes), Gorgeous Grandma Day, and, for Rastafarians, the Birthday of Haile Selassie, born on July 23, 1892. Selassie, who is a human god to the Rastas, visited Jamaica just once, on Thursday, April 21, 1966, a holiday now celebrated as “Grounation Day.” As Wikipedia notes,
Some 100,000 Rastafari from all over Jamaica descended on Palisadoes Airport in Kingston, having heard that the man whom they considered to be God was coming to visit them. They waited at the airport playing drums and smoking large quantities of marijuana.
Selassie in Jamaica:
There’s a Google Doodle today celebrating the start of the 2020 (yes, 2020) Tokyo Olympics, whose opening ceremony is tonight. It’s an interactive anime game featuring a cat; as C|Net reports:
Google joined the Doodle Champion Island Games casts you in the role of ninja cat Lucky as she competes in various minigames in her quest to become a sporting legend.hype on Thursday with its “largest-ever interactive Doodle game.”
It feels like an adventure pulled out of the 16-bit era of gaming as you move around the island and partake in table tennis, skateboarding, archery and other sports challenges. In the spirit of competition, you also join one of the four color teams to contribute to the real-time global leaderboard.
Click on the screenshot to go to the site, and then push the arrow button:
Wine of the Day: Here from Domaine Lafage, is an inexpensive but reliable source of French wine, in a bottle I have no recollection of buying. It’s from 2013, and the price listed at the time of release was about ten bucks. Here’s a review Robert Parker wrote in 2014, which ranks it very high, with a score of 94, but implies that it might be over the hill.
A custom cuvee and joint venture with importer Eric Solomon, the 2013 Tessellae Vieilles Vignes is 100% Carignan and comes from 70-year-old vines and the schist soils of Maury and Les Aspres. It is an off-the-charts value that offers up thrilling notes of black raspberry, chocolate, graphite, tar and licorice to go with a voluptuous, decadent, yet seamless and gorgeously pure feel on the palate. Seriously, this wine is smoking good and should thrill for 4-5 years, if not longer. Just pretend you paid more for it. Most of these wines are custom cuvees made for importer Eric Solomon. All of these are incredible values and should not be missed! (JD)
Carignan, says Jancis Robinson, is an odd grape that’s in a lot of plonk but also in some very good wines. That’s an unbelievably high rating for a ten-buck wine, and I should have probably bought a case. Well, let’s try my one bottle with a big pot of turkey chili.
I’ve now had my two glasses, and the wine is superb, not over the hill at all, and fruity and full. At ten bucks, this is a terrific value. The 2015 and 2017 vintages, both highly rated, are also available for about fifteen buck. Pick one up if you see it!
News of the Day:
FIrst, Chicago had three mass shootings on Wednesday evening, with a total of three killed and 32 injured. It’s typical here, but also unconscionable. Merrick Garland is visiting the town on a five-city anti-gun initiative, but the solution is dumb: they think they can stem the violence here and in other cities by stopping the sale of legally owned guns to others who shouldn’t be buying them. That’s a crock, and it won’t work at all.
In the New York Times, legal Scholar Richard Pildes makes the case for a four-year House term instead of the entrenched two years. I’m convinced:
The ability of the American political system to deliver major policies on urgent issues is hampered by features of our institutions that we take for granted and rarely think about. Take the Constitution’s requirement that House members serve for only two-year terms.
Just a few months into a new administration, as the country grapples with issues of economic recovery and renewal, Congress’s actions are being shaped not by the merits of policy alone but also by the looming midterm elections. It’s not just the fall 2022 election; many incumbents are also calculating how best to position themselves to fend off potential primary challenges.
. . . . . The two-year House term has profound consequences for how effectively American government can perform — and too many of them are negative. A longer, four-year term would facilitate Congress’s ability to once again effectively address major issues that Americans care most about.
. . . . The president’s party nearly always loses House seats in the midterm elections. Since 1934, this has happened in all but two midterms. Yet it cannot be the case that all administrations have governed so poorly they deserve immediate electoral punishment.
So why does it happen so regularly? Presidential candidates can make vague appeals that allow voters to see whatever they prefer to see. But governing requires concrete choices, and those decisions inevitably alienate some voters. In addition, 21 months (Jan. 20 to early November of the next year) is too little time for voters to be able to judge the effects of new programs.
One of the most difficult aspects of designing democratic institutions is how to give governments incentives to act for the long term rather than the short term. The two-year term for House members does exactly the opposite.
Also in the NYT, there’s a discussion of why vaccinated people are still coming down with the virus. (Remember, it was never touted as being “100 effective” at protecting you.) It’s mostly the Delta variant, of course, combined with the high percentage of morons in America who refuse to get vaccinated, and thus can expose even the vaccinated to the virus. Still, if you’ve had your jabs, you’re very unlikely to wind up in the hospital, much less to die. Some useful information:
The uncertainty about Delta results in part from how it differs from previous versions of the coronavirus. Although its mode of transmission is the same — it is inhaled, usually in indoor spaces — Delta is thought to be about twice as contagious as the original virus.
Significantly, early evidence also suggests that people infected with the Delta variant may carry roughly a thousandfold more virus than those infected with the original virus. While that does not seem to mean that they get sicker, it does probably mean that they are more contagious and for longer.
Dose also matters: A vaccinated person exposed to a low dose of the coronavirus may never become infected, or not noticeably so. A vaccinated person exposed to extremely high viral loads of the Delta variant is more likely to find his or her immune defenses overwhelmed.
As for me, I’ll continue wearing my mask indoors until things settle down a bit.
More disappointment from Eric Clapton, who put out a song opposing masking but did get his jab, saying that it made him horribly ill (see here and here). Now, in light of an order from the PM that anyone going to nightclubs and music venues by the end of September must show a “vaccination passport”, Clapton said that he reserves the right not to play at such events:
In response to the government announcement that vaccination passports will be required to access nightclubs and venues by the end of September, the musician has issued a statement saying he would not play “any stage where there is a discriminated audience present.
“Unless there is provision made for all people to attend, I reserve the right to cancel the show.”
Now here’s a twist: the first Orthodox Jewish baseball player drafted by a major league team. Pitcher Jacob Steinmetz, only 17 years old, was picked up by the Arizona Diamondbacks as the 77th draft pick. He’s consoled by the fact that Arizona has kosher food on sale. What about pitching on the Sabbath? Steinmetz made a deal with his family (not G-d): he can pitch on the Sabbath so long as he walks to the stadium on the Sabbath. (Hyperorthodox Jews aren’t allowed to take public transportation on the Sabbath, which lasts from sundown Friday until stars appear in the sky on Saturday night.) If he’s not living near the stadium, he’ll take a hotel room within walking distance. Oy!
They had a photo competition in Włoclawek (the largest city near Dobrzyn), and Paulina entered with this photo of “Karate Kit” Kulka and WON! Paulina (Andrzej and Malgorzata’s upstairs lodger) takes great photos.) Kulka got a prize: 50 zlotys worth of cat treats! (There were 800 entries, and the photo of Kulka below is the winner.)
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 609,870, an increase of 252 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,152,562, an increase of about 8,900 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on July 23 includes:
- 1829 – In the United States, William Austin Burt patents the typographer, a precursor to the typewriter.
Here’s a drawing of the first one, which was inefficient. Wikipedia says this:
Burt had two versions of his mechanical apparatus. The first was built in a wooden box that could be carried by hand. The second was a large advanced model that was mounted on four legs. The first working model provided by Burt for his 1829 patent was destroyed in the 1836 Patent Office fire. Although his typographer, as his innovation was first known by, could print neat documents the mechanism was slow as each letter had to be done by hand. His invention ultimately did not accomplish the goal of speeding up office work as he had intended.
This meant that Canada was still a British colony until 1867, when it became the Dominion of Canada, its own country.
- 1885 – President Ulysses S. Grant dies of throat cancer.
Grant, who was impecunious, sold his memoirs in advance, with Mark Twain buying them at a huge royalty (70%). Grant finished the memoir a few days before he died. Here he is working on the book in June, 1885, near the end.
- 1903 – The Ford Motor Company sells its first car.
- 1926 – Fox Film buys the patents of the Movietone sound system for recording sound onto film.
A tweet sent by Matthew commemorating this day in 1943:
On July 23, 1943, in the German Nazi death camp in #Sobibór the Dutch #Olympic gold medalists in gymnastics were murdered: Anna Dresden-Polak, Lea Koot-Nordheim, Judikje Themans-Simons. Their coach Gerrit Kleerekoper was also killed that day.#Olympics
Photo credit: Getty Images pic.twitter.com/hEG65vAW9Z
— Majdanek Memorial (@MajdanekMuseum) July 23, 2021
Here’s another one of those weird British murders that people still remember. The murderer, Eric Brown, was the son of the victim (wheelchair bound Archibald Brown, aged 47), who killed his dad by putting a Hawkins grenade under the seat cushion. Eric was declared insane and committed until his release in 1975.
- 1962 – Telstar relays the first publicly transmitted, live trans-Atlantic television program, featuring Walter Cronkite.
- 1962 – Jackie Robinson becomes the first African American to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
- 1967 – Detroit Riots: In Detroit, one of the worst riots in United States history begins on 12th Street in the predominantly African American inner city. It ultimately kills 43 people, injures 342 and burns about 1,400 buildings.
Here’s a short video showing some of the riots and news about them.
- 1992 – A Vatican commission, led by Joseph Ratzinger, establishes that limiting certain rights of homosexual people and non-married couples is not equivalent to discrimination on grounds of race or gender.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1892 – Haile Selassie, Ethiopian emperor (d. 1975)
- 1935 – Jim Hall, American race car driver
- 1961 – Woody Harrelson, American actor and activist
- 1973 – Monica Lewinsky, American activist and former White House intern.
Those who died on July 23 include:
- 1948 – D. W. Griffith, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1875)
- 1973 – Eddie Rickenbacker, American pilot and race car driver, founded Rickenbacker Motors (b. 1890)
- 1989 – Donald Barthelme, American short story writer and novelist (b. 1931)
- 2001 – Eudora Welty, American novelist and short story writer (b. 1909)
I read some Welty during the pandemic, and she’s good. Here she is getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Jimmy Cater in 1980:
- 2002 – Chaim Potok, American novelist and rabbi (b. 1929)
- 2010 – Daniel Schorr, American journalist and author (b. 1916)
- 2011 – Amy Winehouse, English singer-songwriter (b. 1983)
It’s the tenth anniversary of Amy’s death. Here’s a song to remember her by. It’s my favorite of hers:
- 2012 – Sally Ride, American physicist and astronaut (b. 1951)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s hunting in the orchard:
A: Why are you lying here?Hili: I’m Listening whether a mole is going in my direction.
Ja: Czemu tu leżysz?Hili: Słucham, czy kret idzie w moją stronę.
From Nicole, a book I desperately need:
From Stash Krod, a boat I want!
And another superfluous sign from reader David:
Readers Dom and Jez went to a pub and had some pints of Landlord in my honor. Here’s Dom’s drawing of the venue: the Fox and Duck in Herts.
— H Stiles (@HStiles1) July 17, 2021
From Ginger K., who says the emphasis is on “alleged”!
— Meow (@MeowingTv) July 18, 2021
Here’s an animated tweet from Simon, who says it’s “a graphical representation that I thought was good to explain increasing proportions of vaccinated people with covid.”
People are looking at the percent of vaccinated hospitalizations and getting alarmed. But by itself, this number can't tell you much about how the vaccines are working, as it's highly dependent on the rate of vaccination in a community. Here's some maths to show what I mean👇🏽 pic.twitter.com/MmfiL7H1lw
— Kristen Panthagani, PhD (@kmpanthagani) July 20, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. I can’t resist some posts showing cute bats:
She's really happy to see you pic.twitter.com/aP4ejBbHeA
— Give Bats A Break (@GiveBatsABreak) June 4, 2020
Let yourself have a nice deep yawn pic.twitter.com/Nm1EeMQNbE
— Give Bats A Break (@GiveBatsABreak) June 4, 2020
A heartwarmer; sound on:
Watch this corgi take his three kitten siblings to the beach 😍 pic.twitter.com/CvLbMdO6XJ
— The Dodo (@dodo) July 22, 2021
Here’s a stupendous gynandromorph, split right down the middle. You know the right side is female because the big jaw is on the left (dorsal view to the left). It’s a good way to compare the morphology of males vs. females in a single individual.
A rare bilateral gynandromorph stag beetle. The left side is male and the right side is female. https://t.co/MZByENsOi4
— Gil Wizen (@wizentrop) July 16, 2020