It’s August! Summer is waning, and it’s Sunday, August 1, 2021: National Raspberry Cream Pie Day, a dessert I can’t say I’ve ever tried. But August is also these food months:
National Catfish Month
National Panini Month
National Peach Month
National Sandwich Month
It’s also Homemade Pie Day, Woman Astronomers Day, Sisters’ Day, American Family Day, Friendship Day, National Girlfriends Day, National KidsDay (yes, one word), Respect For Parents Day, World Lung Cancer Day, and, honoring specific locales, it’s Yorkshire Day in England and Swiss National Day. I’m not sure exactly what trait of the inhabitants of Yorkshire inspired the Monty Python “Four Yorkshiremen” sketch (someone inform me), but here are four of them competing to have had the most deprived upbringing:
Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) is an animated drawing that, when you click on it, takes you to various sources of information about Turkana Boy, a skeleton of Homo ergaster from a boy 7-11 years old who lived 1.5-1.6 million years ago. (The connection with August 1 is uncertain, though the remains were discovered in August.) The skeleton (below), discovered in 1984 in Kenya, it constitutes the most complete set of early human remains ever found.
Wine of the Day:
I don’t remember buying this 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, nor what I paid for it, but I buy all my wine from Vin Chicago, so at least I know where I got it. If you bought it now it would seem to cost about $50 per bottle, which at present is cheap for a ten year old Châteauneuf, but I remember the good old days when you could get a very good one for less than half that. (Good Rhone wines are my favorite reds, even better than Bordeaux, though I have little experience with good Burgundies.) Made from 90% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre, with scores of 95 from Robert Parker and 93 from Jeb Dunnuck—both with reliable palates that jibe with mine—I had it on a “meat day” ribeye steak (rare), heirloom tomatoes, and a baguette.
It was a very good example of the genre—not the best, mind you, but like encountering an old friend. The “black olive” flavor I associate with Rhones was missing, but this was an almost off-dry wine with appealing flavors of raspberry jam. It is by no means over the hill at 11 years old and kept at suboptimal (70ºF) storage. It was so tasty that I drank more than my share, usually a tad less than half a bottle (I stretch a bottle out over three days, with a smallish glass the last day), and will finish it off tomorrow. Rhones rule!
News of the Day:
Three Jamaicans took all the medals in the women’s 100-meter dash, and the New York Times has a long photographic and graphic exposition of the race, showing how the running speed rises from zero, peaking at about 24 mph at roughly 50 meters, and declining by 3-4 mph at the finish. The winner was Elaine Thompson-Herah, 29, who also took the 100 m gold in the last Olympics; she set an Olympic record of 10.61 seconds—a bit behind the world record for this distance (10.49 seconds set in 1998 by Florence Griffith-Joyner). Thompson-Herah’s top speed was 24.2 mph, considerably slower than the world’s fastest land animal, the cheetah, timed at between 68 and 75 mph.
And have you noticed all the tattoos on view during the Tokyo Olympics? I don’t ever remember seeing any tattooed athlete in previous games, but now everybody seems to be inked. The Associated Press has a series of photos of tattooed athletes, some of them over the top. (below)
It’s ironic because being tattooed makes you somewhat of a pariah in Japan: as the article notes, “Tattoos remain stigmatized in Japan, where those with them are commonly banned from beaches, gyms, pools and elsewhere around Japan.” Also in onsen, hot springs resorts. I believe the reason is that tattoos in Japan are associated with criminal gangs. Here’s one from the AP piece:
There has to be a physiological limit to the times of such races, because, after all, nobody can run it in 5 seconds, so, given human morphology and physiology, there’s a speed that cannot be exceeded. But we don’t know what it is.
You all know about the delta variant of Covid-19, and how it’s playing hob with the world’s desire to return to normalcy (there were just protests in France at proposed new lockdowns), but we’ve already talked about that. Wear your masks, plan for a booster (I assume all readers are vaccinated), and try to socially distance yourself, even if you are vaccinated.
In a NYT op-ed, authors Jon Haidt and Jean Twinge report that loneliness among Generation Z young adults (those born after 1996) rose since 2012 in 36 out of 37 countries surveyed, and that depression is going up as well. Why? The authors blame smartphones, which reduce social interaction. Humans are social primates, and, deprived of one-on-one interaction, they suffer. The solution: keep kids away from their phones, like locking the devices up during the school day. I see this at the duckpond all the time: people ignore the wonderful things the ducks are doing because they’re so fixated on getting that one iPhone shot or selfie.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 612,918, an increase of 308 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,234,090, an increase of about 8,600 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on August 1 includes:
- 1620 – Speedwell leaves Delfshaven to bring pilgrims to America by way of England.
- 1774 – British scientist Joseph Priestley discovers oxygen gas, corroborating the prior discovery of this element by German-Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele.
- 1834 – Slavery is abolished in the British Empire as the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 comes into force, although it remains legal in the possessions of the East India Company until the passage of the Indian Slavery Act, 1843.
- 1893 – Henry Perky patents shredded wheat.
Here’s the patent, though the submission is dated August 2, 1895. What Perky did on this date in 1893 is patent a machine that could process cereal, possibly enabling the making of biscuits. After that I’ve put an amusing 1909 ad for shredded wheat touting its health advantages:
I guess the British equivalent, Weetbix, would be just as good for you:
The conventional wisdom is that that U.S. track and field star was snubbed by Hitler, as Owens (who won four gold medals in Berlin) was black. The Encyclopedia Brittanica, though, says that this is not true. But Owens did foil Hitler’s plans for a German-dominated Olympics. Here’s Owens on the podium after the long jump:
- 1944 – World War II: The Warsaw Uprising against the Nazi German occupation breaks out in Warsaw, Poland.
The largest organized resistance action during the war, this was the attempt of the Polish resistance to liberate Warsaw from German occupation. After several months, the resistance lost. Here they are surrendering to the Germans on October 5, 1944; many were sent to POW camps. And then the Nazis proceeded to nearly obliterate the city.
- 1965 – Frank Herbert‘s novel, Dune was published for the first time. It was named as the world’s best-selling science fiction novel in 2003.
A first edition and first printing of Dune with slipcover will cost you between $4000 and, if signed, $10,000.
- 1966 – Charles Whitman kills 16 people at the University of Texas at Austin before being killed by the police.
On autopsy Whitman was shown to have a serious malignant brain tumor, but medical experts have no consensus about whether the tumor prompted or contributed to the murders.
- 1966 – Purges of intellectuals and imperialists becomes official China policy at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.
A “struggle session” during the Cultural Revolution. Look familiar?
- 1971 – The Concert for Bangladesh, organized by former Beatle George Harrison, is held at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Here’s one whole concert (there were two of them in one day):
- 1980 – Vigdís Finnbogadóttir is elected President of Iceland and becomes the world’s first democratically elected female head of state.
Finnbogadóttir served from 1980-1996: here she is in 1995
- 1984 – Commercial peat-cutters discover the preserved bog body of a man, called Lindow Man, at Lindow Moss, Cheshire, England.
In his mid-20s, some time between 2 BC and 119 AD, Lindow man died violently: (throat cut, strangled, and struck on the head—probably a ritual sacrifice. Here’s his freeze-dried body, which you can see in the British Museum:
- 2008 – Eleven mountaineers from international expeditions died on K2, the second-highest mountain on Earth in the worst single accident in the history of K2 mountaineering.
Notables born on this day include:
Mocked by many biologists for being wrong about how evolution worked, Lamarck was nevertheless the first naturalist to propose a comprehensive theory of evolution. Where he went wrong is in assuming that the environment itself, or use and disuse of a feature, could change the hereditary material, giving rise to the characterization of “Lamarckism” as “the inheritance of acquired characteristics.” He could have been right, but he wasn’t, and, with the exception of a few epigenetic modifications that are inherited for a few generations, the change in the hereditary material comes first, via mutation, and those mutations that leave more copies come to predominate in the population. Darwin didn’t get genetics right either, and came close to Lamarck in some places, but he thought of natural selection and Lamarck didn’t.
- 1770 – William Clark, American soldier, explorer, and politician, 4th Governor of Missouri Territory (d. 1838)
- 1819 – Herman Melville, American novelist, short story writer, and poet (d. 1891)
Do you know what Melville looked like? Here’s a picture of him in 1861, ten years after he wrote Moby-Dick. He was a seaman from 1841-1844.
Here’s his obituary notice from the New York Times in 1891, misspelling the title of his famous book and leaving out the hyphen:
- 1907 – Eric Shipton, Sri Lankan-English mountaineer and explorer (d. 1977)
- 1931 – Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
- 1936 – W. D. Hamilton, Egyptian born British biologist, psychologist, and academic (d. 2000)
- 1942 – Jerry Garcia, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1995)
Those who decamped from life on August 1 include:
- 30 BC – Mark Antony, Roman general and politician (b. 83 BC)
- 1903 – Calamity Jane, American frontierswoman and scout (b. 1853)
The frontierswoman and scout’s real name was Martha Jane Cannary. She often wore men’s clothes, as below:
- 1966 – Charles Whitman, American murderer (b. 1941) [See above]
- 1977 – Francis Gary Powers, American captain and pilot (b. 1929)
- 2007 – Tommy Makem, Irish singer-songwriter and banjo player (b. 1932)
Makem singing “Will You Go, Lassie Go?“:
- 2015 – Cilla Black, English singer and actress (b. 1943)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, there were troubles getting the Hili Dialogue today as the Internet and electricity are largely down in Dobrzyn again (there were storms). But phone wireless succeeded! Hili is, as usual, antitheist:
Hili: I see the Messiah.
Andrzej: What does he look like?
Hili: LIke the previous swindler.
Hili: Widzę mesjasza.Ja: Jak wygląda?Hili: Tak jak ten poprzedni oszust.
From David: A poem on Sean Hannity written by John Cleese:
Another superfluous sign from David:
From Jesus of the Day:
From Stephen Fry: be sure to enlarge the screen and turn the sound up (not too loud!) as a Tunisian’s swimmer’s family watches him win the gold in the 400m freestyle.
The one thing the world could use right now is an explosion of joy so complete, intense and overwhelming that there is enough for us all to share in it … (cover your ears: the shrieks of excitement are WILD) pic.twitter.com/QDcmmLbSXH
— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) July 25, 2021
Two tweets from Ginger K.. First, an artwork made from willow rods:
— #WOMENSART (@womensart1) July 17, 2021
This one comes with a famous video:
A man will look on such a task and imagine ten reasons why he can’t.
A cat looks and imagines one reason why it can.
And so it leaps.
— Future Fossil (@dyear_of_dcat) July 15, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. I assume the first one is true, so that all cats have webbed toes like this Sphynx. There’s also a reply:
Ok I don't like cats anymore
— June (@juniperchaos) July 31, 2021
Speaking of felids, this young bobcat needs to learn to be a bit more wary:
— Squidocto (@Squidocto) July 31, 2021
Translation from the Dutch: “Yes, then you are a boss.”
Ja dan ben je wel een eindbaas pic.twitter.com/RPuXYqmHSn
— Jef (@rallyjef2) July 29, 2021
Cat wins! Cat wins!
Started out okay… pic.twitter.com/yUhZgtZknB
— Taciana Pereira (@taciana_LP) July 30, 2021