Greetings on Sunday: July 25, 2021: National Hot Fudge Sundae Day (and it is Sunday!). If you come to Chicago, you must have yours at Margie’s Candie’s in Bucktown a soda fountain unchanged for 90 years. The ice cream confections are incomparable. It’s also National Wine and Cheese Day, Culinarians Day, and International Red Shoe Day. Here’s the source of the last holiday:
International Red Shoe Day remembers and celebrates all those who have passed away from Lyme disease and other “invisible diseases” such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. It was founded in memory of Theda Myint of Australia, who passed away from Lyme disease on July 25, 2013. Some of her friends who were in an Australian Lyme disease support group came up with the day. A friend asked what her favorite color had been, and was told, “Her favourite colour was green, unless it was shoes! She loved red shoes.” Karen Smith, another of Theda’s friends, then asked, “Red Shoe Day in her memory?” giving the idea for the holiday.
News of the Day:
The New York Times reports that there is a growing consensus that older Americans (65+) and those who are immunocompromised will need Covid booster shots if they got the two-jab Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna doses. Get ready! (I suppose I have to un-laminate my vaccination card.)
The Associated Press was granted access to a “detention center” in Xinjiang, which can hold up to 10,000 inmates. The inmates are of course Uyghurs, members of the Muslim minority that China is trying to extirpate. The change from “detainees” to “inmates” appear to be a way to convert potential dissidents, or even those completely innocent of everything, into criminals:
China has described its sweeping lockup of a million or more minorities over the past four years as a “war against terror,” after a series of knifings and bombings by a small number of extremist Uyghurs native to Xinjiang. Among its most controversial aspects were the so-called vocational “training centers” – described by former detainees as brutal internment camps surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards.
China at first denied their existence, and then, under heavy international criticism, said in 2019 that all the occupants had “graduated.” But the AP’s visit to Dabancheng, satellite imagery and interviews with experts and former detainees suggest that while many “training centers” were indeed closed, some like this one were simply converted into prisons or pre-trial detention facilities. Many new facilities have also been built, including a new 85-acre detention center down the road from No. 3 in Dabancheng that went up over 2019, satellite imagery shows.
And. . . three-on-three basketball in the Olympics? What is that about? I don’t care what you say: it’s not even a sport! Look at what the NYT says:
Three on three is basketball reimagined for the TikTok generation, with fast-paced choreography and a hip-hop soundtrack. “If you have a short attention span, this is your sport,” said Kara Lawson, the coach of the U.S. women’s team.
The half-court game is played outdoors with a 12-second shot clock, no breaks and four-player rosters. The game ends after 10 minutes or when a team reaches 21 points, whichever comes first. Baskets scored outside the arc are worth two points; buckets inside it are worth one. The play is physical and fouls are rarely called.
“It’s like the X Games,” said U.S. guard Kelsey Plum. “There’s music going on, there’s a commentator making jokes about people’s play, about people getting crossed over, about someone shooting in someone’s face, saying someone is quicker than a Kardashian marriage.” (That omnipresent play-by-play announcer, Kyle Montgomery, peppers his commentary with Meek Mill and Drake lyrics and one liners like: “She’s all business like the front of the plane.”)
That’s enough for me; I ain’t watching, and they should deep-six it. What’s next? Rock/papers/scissors?
Have you heard about the Pegasus spyware? It was created by NSO, an Israeli firm to help governments track terrorists and criminals, but is now being used more widely to track journalists and dissidents, and for general surveillance. (h/t Jean) At least 37 smartphones were tested and shown to be infected, none of them belonging to “terrorists or criminal.” As the Washington Post reports,
The targeting of the 37 smartphones would appear to conflict with the stated purpose of NSO’s licensing of the Pegasus spyware, which the company says is intended only for use in surveilling terrorists and major criminals. The evidence extracted from these smartphones, revealed here for the first time, calls into question pledges by the Israeli company to police its clients for human rights abuses.
The Israeli government has to approve licensing of the software to any country who wants to buy it? So how did these people manage to get hacked? NSO has no answers.
Physicist Sabine Hossenfelder was asked to write an article for Physics Magazine about whether some types of physics could be “too speculative” to prompt fruitful research (e.g., string theory). Her article was too honest, apparently, and the magazine rejected it. So she made her piece into a YouTube video (below). She takes up the issues of speculations about dark matter (does not further progress in understanding the Universe), the “fifth force” (ditto), string theory (overhyped but still worth pursuing), multiverses (Hossenfelder doesn’t even consider the idea scientific), and so on. Reader Steve, who sent me the link, says he’d love to see a debate between Sean Carroll and Hossenfelder about multiverses. As for the rejection, the editors of Physics Magazine didn’t want to hear an opinion that might offend some physicists, but the video has a link to what she submitted.
She doesn’t pull her punches; I like her.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 610,414, an increase of 267 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,169,613, an increase of about 8,200 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on July 25 includes:
- 1261 – The city of Constantinople is recaptured by Nicaean forces under the command of Alexios Strategopoulos, re-establishing the Byzantine Empire.
- 1603 – James VI of Scotland is crowned king of England (James I of England), bringing the Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Scotland into personal union. Political union would occur in 1707.
- 1755 – British governor Charles Lawrence and the Nova Scotia Council order the deportation of the Acadians.
Some of the Acadians deported to France returned to the New World and settled in Louisiana; they are the genetic and etymological ancestors of the “Cajuns”. Here’s a Louisiana Cajun speaking the local dialect of French:
- 1797 – Horatio Nelson loses more than 300 men and his right arm during the failed conquest attempt of Tenerife (Spain).
- 1908 – Ajinomoto is founded. Kikunae Ikeda of the Tokyo Imperial University discovers that a key ingredient in kombu soup stock is monosodium glutamate (MSG), and patents a process for manufacturing it.
Ajinomoto is a Japanese spice and flavoring company specializing in MSG, which is the basis, as Ikeda discovered, of the umami flavor.
- 1909 – Louis Blériot makes the first flight across the English Channel in a heavier-than-air machine from Calais to Dover, England, United Kingdom in 37 minutes.
Here’s Blériot taking off for his flight:
- From the New York Times, July 24, 1948 (one day late); Olympic Committee caves to Arab threats (the State of Israel came into being on May 14 of that year).
- 1956 – Forty-five miles south of Nantucket Island, the Italian ocean liner SS Andrea Doria collides with the MS Stockholm in heavy fog and sinks the next day, killing 51.
Here’s a short newsreel piece of the sinking:
- 1965 – Bob Dylan goes electric at the Newport Folk Festival, signaling a major change in folk and rock music.
Indeed it did, and here’s the set:
- 1976 – Viking program: Viking 1 takes the famous Face on Mars photo.
- 1978 – Birth of Louise Joy Brown, the first human to have been born after conception by in vitro fertilisation, or IVF.
- 2000 – Concorde Air France Flight 4590 crashes at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, killing 113 people.
A tire blew out during takeoff, and the debris ignited a fuel tank, which rendered the plane unflyable. It crashed into a hotel two minutes after takeoff, killing all on board. Here’s a photo of the takeoff:
- 2019 – National extreme heat records set this day in the UK, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany during the July 2019 European heat wave. Wikipedia reports some extremes:
France experienced temperatures in excess of 45 °C (113 °F) for the first time in recorded history. A national all-time record high temperature of 46.0 °C (114.8 °F) occurred on 28 June in Vérargues.
Here’s a chart of the maximum temperatures in Europe on July 25, 2019. France and Germany were especially hard hit. More than 567 people died from the heat.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1844 – Thomas Eakins, American painter, sculptor, and photographer (d. 1916)
Eakens was one of the greatest American realist painters. Here’s one of his finest works, Max Schmitt in a Single Scull (1871):
- 1870 – Maxfield Parrish, American painter and illustrator (d. 1966)
Who doesn’t love Parrish’s work. Here’s an unusual one, “A good mixer”, that has a cat:
He’s famous for killing big cats, and I want nothing to do with him.
- 1894 – Walter Brennan, American actor (d. 1974)
- 1906 – Johnny Hodges, American saxophonist and clarinet player (d. 1970)
- 1920 – Rosalind Franklin, English biophysicist, chemist, and academic (d. 1958)
- 1941 – Emmett Till, American lynching victim (d. 1955)
- 1948 – Steve Goodman, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1984)
Steve Goodman didn’t write “The Dutchman“, but it’s a lovely and a sad song—my favorite of his and the most well known cover. I’m putting up the recorded version because it’s the best. The lyrics, about an old Dutchman, somewhat demented, being cared for by his daughter, are beautiful.
Those whose ceased respiring on July 25 include:
- 1834 – Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English philosopher, poet, and critic (b. 1772)
- 1995 – Charlie Rich, American singer-songwriter (b. 1932)
In my view, this is his best song, and it’s one of the best country songs (sexism goes with the genre):
- 2008 – Randy Pausch, American computer scientist and educator (b. 1960)
Paush is perhaps most famous for his “Last Lecture”, when he’d been given a diagnosis of terminal cancer, with 3 to 6 months of good health left (he died 11 months later). This really was his last lecture, and he talked about his fate with energy and humor. Listen for yourself:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Szaron is getting sassy:
Hili: You are encroaching on my territory.Szaron: Get used to it.
Hili: Wkraczasz na moje terytorium.Szaron: Przyzwyczaj się.
A cat meme from Bruce (note superfluous apostrophe, not his fault):
Another superfluous sign from David:
From Jesus of the Day, though I don’t know who drew the cartoon:
Two tweets from Luana. First, cool flying robots:
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) July 23, 2021
Second, claims of white privilege reach peak ludicrousness:
Is this for real? What is Dallas Justice Now? I wonder what the Asian version of this ransom letter will look like. pic.twitter.com/4Svb88VUDH
— Wenyuan Wu, Ph.D. (@wu_wenyuan) July 24, 2021
What is this new book about? Waterstones says that Stephen Fry has hundreds of ties, and I guess this book features them:
Stephen’s collection now numbers well into the hundreds. And each tie – whether floral, fluorescent, football themed; striped or spotty, outrageous or simply debonair – tells a story. A tale of the garment itself – the shops, makers and designers – as well as of Stephen, his reasons for choosing it, whether an
occasion or just a whim.
Inspired by Stephen’s hugely popular Instagram posts, this book will feature beautiful, hand-drawn illustrations and photographs to celebrate his expansive collection of man’s greatest asset: the Tie, in all its sophisticated glory.
— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) July 23, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. The first two features phorids, or flies in the family Phoridae. They prefer to run rather than fly, and the ones below are wingless, and parasitoids of ants.
— Chris Wirth (@AgeOfArthropods) July 23, 2021
I guess they had to operate on the snake:
This rat snake got itself a mouse…and the trap it was caught in. The nice folks at Stahl Exotic Animal Veterinary Services helped it out. pic.twitter.com/i3ZUYrXExC
— Emily Taylor (@snakeymama) July 24, 2021
Matthew’s comment: “When atheists know more about religion than the religious”:
I think technically that should read 'transubstantiated red wine is my vaccine' pic.twitter.com/Xj0EfuUikl
— Mark Duckett (@MarkRDuckett) July 24, 2021
An ancient optical illusion. Enlarge the photo and look closely:
One of the oldest optical illusions in the world. An elephant and a bull sharing same head. This 900 years old sculpture is part of a Hindu temple (Airavatesvara) and is shining example of Chola Architecture. pic.twitter.com/don45orPTf
— Museum Archive (@ArtifactsHub) July 22, 2021