Greetings on Cat Sabbath: Saturday: July 24, 2021: National Tequila Day. It’s also National Drive-Thru Day, National Day of the American Cowboy, Amelia Earhart Day, celebrating her birth on this day in 1897, Cousins Day, and International Save the Vaquita Day. What is a vaquita? It’s a critically endangered small porpoise ((Phocoena sinus; the smallest of all cetaceans) that’s endemic to the northern part of the Gulf of California off Baja California. Gill-netting has reduced the population to fewer than 19 individuals. Here’s a photo of a calf and its adult size relative to a human:
And it’s Simón Bolívar Day in Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, and Bolivia.
News of the Day:
It’s now 185 days—more than half a year—since the Bidens took residency in the White House. WHERE IS THE FEMALE CAT THEY PROMISED?
The Washington Post reports that only 83% of U.S. athletes at the Olympics have been vaccinated against coronavirus. That’s higher than the American public, but goes to show only that athletes aren’t all that savvy when it comes to their health. Given the high rate of infection in Tokyo, I’m not sure why the Olympic Commission didn’t require vaccination for all athletes who don’t have a condition that prevents it.
In the NYT, David Brooks has a strange column, “How racist is America?” As I said yesterday, Brooks
. . . answers “yes” but adds that America is not “white supremacist” towards black people. This seems to me a contradiction, since racism is based on the idea that the oppressor is superior to the oppressed. Maybe I’m wrong, but what’s with Brooks, anyway?
And there are two other intriguing op-eds in the NYT, one by Jamelle Bouie called “The Supreme Court needs to be cut down to size.” I admit that the GOP’s machinations in court-stacking are reprehensible, but what does Bouie recommend? Circumscribing what the Court can do!:
Put a little differently, the public and its representatives can and should extend its authority over the Supreme Court, not by “packing” the court or imposing term limits, but by marking the boundaries of its autonomy. Using their broad power under the Constitution to shape and structure the judiciary, federal lawmakers can strip jurisdiction from the court, require a supermajority for decisions that would invalidate an act of Congress or, as Moyn writes, Congress
could also reassign finality of decision to itself through a jurisdictional statute that makes Supreme Court invalidations of federal law provisional unless and until Congress passes on the result (or fails to exercise its option to do so in some time frame).
The point of all this is both to disempower the court and to make it less central to our politics and our constitutional order.
Of course, if the court were more liberal, Bouie wouldn’t be beefing. The issue, of course, is who will do the circumscribing? A Democratic Congress now could be a Republican Congress in two or four years.
The other, by Michael Wolff, who’s written several books about Trump, and is no fan, is called “Why I’m sure Trump will run for President in 2024.” The argument is that without a claim on the White House, Trump would lose his reason for existing, and so he’s compelled to run:
But perhaps most important, there is his classic hucksterism, and his synoptic U.S.P. — unique selling proposition. In 2016 it was “the wall.” For 2022 and 2024 he will have another proposition available: “the steal,” a rallying cry of rage and simplicity.
For Democrats, who see him exiled to Mar-a-Lago, stripped of his key social media platforms and facing determined prosecutors, his future seems risible if not pathetic. But this is Donald Trump, always ready to strike back harder than he has been struck, to blame anyone but himself, to silence any doubts with the sound of his own voice, to take what he believes is his and, most of all, to seize all available attention. Sound the alarm.
I think he’ll run, though he may be defeated in the Republican primary. Yet I see a primary defeat as unlikely, for who can best Trump when half of America still worships the moron and a huge percentage of people really think he won the last election? If the GOP were smart, they’d start looking beyond Trump now, and grooming a candidate. Or perhaps they are smart, and know that Trump can beat either Biden or his successor.
Cultural inheritance in Australian cockatoos: researchers have documented that sulfur-crested cockatoos around Sydney have learned how to open wheelie bins with their beaks and feet to plunder the food scraps. Other cockatoos learn by watching. This is not the first example of birds learning to access human food by watching other birds, but we’ll learn more about that tomorrow in a science post. (h/t: Jez & Phil)
Ward Branch, a Vancouver Supreme Court judge with a funny bone mentioned Monty Python while adjudicating a suit by a woman against several pharmaceutical companies. As CBC News reports (h/t: GInger K.):
The woman leading the legal charge — Uttra Kumari Krishnan — claimed she spent years buying glucosamine sulfate products that allegedly contained no glucosamine sulfate.
In giving Krishnan the go-ahead to sue, Branch compared her to “Mr. Praline” — the customer in the decades-old skit who confronts a shopkeeper with a “Norwegian Blue” parrot that turns out to have been nailed to its perch — an “ex-parrot” in the words of Mr. Praline, “expired and gone to meet his maker!”
Much like the poor Mr. Praline, [Krishnan] complains that she was sold a health product that did not contain what it said on the bottle,” Branch wrote.
“[She] admits that she does not know for certain what is in the bottles, but argues that what is important is that it was not glucosamine sulfate.”
Last night listened to Bari Weiss’s 70-minute conversation with Iranian journalist and human-rights activist Masih Alinejad, who has effectively been exiled from her home country. You have heard that Iran plotted to kidnap Alinejad and take her back to Iran, where she would have faced a dire fate. Fortunately, the FBI foiled the plot. Through all the travails Masih has faced, she “keeps her pecker up”, as the Brits say, and is more determined than ever to call out the perfidies of her homeland.
It’s well worth listening to, and Bari has now posted it on Facebook for all to see and hear. Voilà: the conversation.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 610,356, an increase of 271 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,161,408, an increase of about 8,900 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on July 24 includes:
- 1304 – Wars of Scottish Independence: Fall of Stirling Castle: King Edward I of England takes the stronghold using the War Wolf.
- 1567 – Mary, Queen of Scots, is forced to abdicate and replaced by her 1-year-old son James VI.
- 1847 – After 17 months of travel, Brigham Young leads 148 Mormon pioneers into Salt Lake Valley, resulting in the establishment of Salt Lake City.
- 1901 – O. Henry is released from prison in Columbus, Ohio, after serving three years for embezzlement from a bank.
The great short story writer (below) died at only 47 from the writer’s disease: alcoholism. His real name was William Sydney Porter:
Here’s Machu Picchu, photographed by Bingham in 1912, after it was cleaned up but before it was reconstructed:
And how it looks now (Wikipedia notes that “Modern archaeological research has since determined that the site was not a religious center but a royal estate to which Inca leaders and their entourage repaired during the Andean summer.”)
- 1929 – The Kellogg–Briand Pact, renouncing war as an instrument of foreign policy, goes into effect (it is first signed in Paris on August 27, 1928, by most leading world powers).
Well, that was a joke!
The Scottsboro Boys (below) were nine African-Americans falsely accused of raping two white women on a train in 1931 (shades of Emmett Till!). The accusers finally admitted they made up the story, and eventually the boys were pardoned, but for several their pardons were posthumous and they all spent substantial time in jail. This is one of the great racist miscarriages of justice of the twentieth century.
- 1959 – At the opening of the American National Exhibition in Moscow, U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev have a “Kitchen Debate“.
This was named because Nixon had an acrimonious debate with Khrushchev in a model American kitchen in an American exhibit in Moscow. Here’s a short video from the debate:
- 1966 – Michael Pelkey makes the first BASE jump from El Capitan along with Brian Schubert. Both came out with broken bones. BASE jumping has now been banned from El Cap.
- 1969 – Apollo program: Apollo 11 splashes down safely in the Pacific Ocean.
The splashdown: home from the Moon!
- 1974 – Watergate scandal: The United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that President Richard Nixon did not have the authority to withhold subpoenaed White House tapes and they order him to surrender the tapes to the Watergate special prosecutor.
- 1987 – Hulda Crooks, at 91 years of age, climbed Mt. Fuji. Crooks became the oldest person to climb Japan’s highest peak.
Crooks also climbed the continental U.S.’s highest peak, Mt. Whitney, 23 times between the ages of 65 and 91, as well as 97 other mountains in that period. Here’s a video of Hulda climbing Whitney at 85:
Notables born on this day include:
- 1783 – Simón Bolívar, Venezuelan commander and politician, 2nd President of Venezuela (d. 1830)
- 1802 – Alexandre Dumas, [JAC: père] French novelist and playwright (d. 1870)
- 1860 – Alphonse Mucha, Czech painter and illustrator (d. 1939)
Mucha posters are worth a fortune, and rightly so. Here’s one for Monte Carlo:
- 1895 – Robert Graves, English poet, novelist, critic (d. 1985)
- 1897 – Amelia Earhart, American pilot and author (d. 1937)
Remember: it’s Amelia Earhart Day:
Zelda (Sayre) at 17. Three years later, she was engaged to F. Scott Fitzgerald:
- 1964 – Barry Bonds, American baseball player
- 1969 – Jennifer Lopez, American actress, singer, and dancer
Those whose existence lapsed on July 24 include:
- 1862 – Martin Van Buren, American lawyer and politician, 8th President of the United States (b. 1782)
- 1962 – Wilfrid Noyce, English mountaineer and author (b. 1917)
- 1986 – Fritz Albert Lipmann, German-American biochemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1899)
- 1991 – Isaac Bashevis Singer, Polish-American novelist and short story writer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1902)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the editor insists on sleeping on her employees’ desks. Well, she is a cat!
Hili: I have a feeling that you are disturbing me.A: I’m so sorry.
Hili: Mam wrażenie, że mi przeszkadzasz.Ja: Ogromnie przepraszam.
A meme from Bruce:
And another superfluous sign from David:
Titania McGrath has been very quiet lately, and there are no new tweets from “her” in nearly a week.
From Luana: a sign (or cup) of the times:
— Emil O W Kirkegaard (@KirkegaardEmil) July 22, 2021
From Barry, a metaphor for Brexit:
Brexit Explained pic.twitter.com/JookZCoE7U
— *Boris Johnson Is A Liar* (@MarieAnnUK) July 22, 2021
From Simon; the end times:
The singularity is near pic.twitter.com/XsYW1Z73k1
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) July 23, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. First, an astronomer and his cat (look hard):
Extraordinary astronomer Edwin Hubble, one of the discoverers of evidence for the expansion of the universe, seated with his cat Nicolas Copernicus, behind an armillary sphere and next to an orrery, March 1953.
— Paul Halpern (@phalpern) July 23, 2021
I can’t deny the caption:
— Charles #GetVaxxed! 💉 (@charles_gaba) July 17, 2021
Look at the size of this tooth!
This is a tooth (!!) from Rhizodus, an absolutely huge lobe-finned fish that lived in the Carboniferous (~330-300 million years ago). These predators had jaws up to a meter long! This large tooth (called a tusk or fang) would have sat at the jaw symphysis, with a very long root. pic.twitter.com/L9h2kr00U6
— Sam Giles (@GilesPalaeoLab) July 22, 2021
Here’s the size of Rhizodu , a lobe-finned fish, compared to other creatures and a modern human (image from Prehistoric Wildlife):
Matthew says this kind of deportation is legal, and in fact has been done, but in this case it’s especially cruel and inhumane. Jendrycha never left the UK after she arrived decades ago.
A Holocaust survivor who’s lived in Scotland since the war is being forced to apply for the right to remain in the UK as she may be deported by the Tories. Irena Jendrycha said: ‘It feels like history repeating itself and the worst I fear is still to come’ https://t.co/RIrItIpTD2
— NeilMackay (@NeilMackay) July 22, 2021
And a lovely astronomy photo: a moon-forming annulus around a planet!
#BreakingNews No more doubts! We detected for the first time a moon-forming disk around a planet, similar to Jupiter and outside the Solar System.
⭐️Star: PDS 70
🪐Planet: PDS 70c (400 light years away)
— ALMA Observatory at Home📡 (@almaobs) July 22, 2021