Good morning on the first Monday in August, the second day of the month, 2021: National Ice Cream Sandwich Day, the apotheosis of which is the It’s-It, vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two oatmeal cookies, and the whole shebang dipped in chocolate. Sadly, this treat is available only west of the Rockies.
- Romani genocide-related observances, including:
News of the Day:
After a false start, Marcell Jacobs of Italy won the men’s 100-meter dash at the Olympics with a time of 9.8 seconds. The Olympic record is 9.63 seconds, set by Usain Bolt in 2012, and the world record is 9.58 seconds, also set by Bolt. Here’s the race. Press “Watch on YouTube” for all videos:
And in a heartwarming act of sportsmanship, the two best high-jumpers in the men’s event, after tying, agreed to share the gold medal in the event (see below). A video:
Even more heartwarming sportsmanship: in an 800-meter men’s qualifying heat, contender American Isaiah Jewitt was tripped, fell, and another athlete, Nijel Amos of Botswana, went down with him. So much for their chances at a medal. What did they do? Helped each other up, hugged, and crossed the finish line together—dead last.
Have you lost your motivation but don’t feel very depressed—just blah? Well, you may have the “middle child” of mental illness, languishing. I suspect that many of us, including me, are suffering from this. The cure? Well, there are many suggestions, though I don’t know if any have been subject to double-blind tests. Here’s one:
So what can we do about it? A concept called “flow” may be an antidote to languishing. Flow is that elusive state of absorption in a meaningful challenge or a momentary bond, where your sense of time, place and self melts away. During the early days of the pandemic, the best predictor of well-being wasn’t optimism or mindfulness — it was flow. People who became more immersed in their projects managed to avoid languishing and maintained their prepandemic happiness.
As someone said on another topic, “All this is as plausible as anything else.”
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 612,982, an increase of 310 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,241,322, an increase of about 7,200 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on August 2 includes:
- 216 BC – The Carthaginian army led by Hannibal defeats a numerically superior Roman army at the Battle of Cannae.
- 1610 – During Henry Hudson’s search for the Northwest Passage, he sails into what is now known as Hudson Bay.
- 1776 – The signing of the United States Declaration of Independence took place.
Here’s the signed document, which you can see in the U.S. Archives (visit it if you can). While the document was proclaimed by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, signing occurred later. As Wikipedia reports:
The Declaration was transposed on paper, adopted by the Continental Congress, and signed by John Hancock, President of the Congress, on July 4, 1776, according to the 1911 record of events by the U.S. State Department under Secretary Philander C. Knox. On August 2, 1776, a parchment paper copy of the Declaration was signed by 56 persons. Many of these signers were not present when the original Declaration was adopted on July 4. Signer Matthew Thornton from New Hampshire was seated in the Continental Congress in November; he asked for and received the privilege of adding his signature at that time, and signed on November 4, 1776.
The document is badly faded, and is kept in a gas-filled chamber that can be automatically moved below ground in case of attack. But you can still see the big “John Hancock” signature at the bottom:
- 1790 – The first United States Census is conducted.
Here’s the census, and note that slaves are counted as full people, not 3/5 of a person. There were almost 4 million people in the country then. Note the categories:
- 1870 – Tower Subway, the world’s first underground tube railway, opens in London, England, United Kingdom.
- 1923 – Vice President Calvin Coolidge becomes U.S. President upon the death of President Warren G. Harding.
- 1932 – The positron (antiparticle of the electron) is discovered by Carl D. Anderson. [JAC: He won the 1936 Nobel Prize in Physics for this discovery. The particle’s existence was predicted by Paul Dirac.]
Here’s a cloud-chamber photo of the first positron ever observed. The caption is from Wikipedia:
- 1939 – Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard write a letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt, urging him to begin the Manhattan Project to develop a nuclear weapon.
Here’s the letter, which you can read by clicking twice. It’s signed by Einstein, but was written by Szilard:
- 1943 – The Holocaust: Jewish prisoners stage a revolt at Treblinka, one of the deadliest of Nazi death camps where approximately 900,000 persons were murdered in less than 18 months.
- 1943 – World War II: The Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109 is rammed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri and sinks. Lt. John F. Kennedy, future U.S. president, saves all but two of his crew.
Here’s Lieutenant Junior Grade John Kennedy aboard the PT-109 in 1943:
- 1990 – Iraq invades Kuwait, eventually leading to the Gulf War.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1820 – John Tyndall, Irish-English physicist and mountaineer (d. 1893)
- 1905 – Myrna Loy, American actress (d. 1993)
Loy was at her best in The Thin Man as Nick Charles’s bibulous partner (they were both bibulous). Here’s a clip from the original 1934 movie, which spawned five Thin Man sequel:
Here’s Baldwin explaining on the Dick Cavett show on why he left America for France, where he lived from when he was 24 until he died at 63): segregation and racism. I read quite a bit of his writing during the first part of the pandemic, and think that his semi-autobiographical novel Go Tell It on the Mountain is the best.
- 1932 – Peter O’Toole, British-Irish actor and producer (d. 2013)
Was O’Toole ever better than in “Lawrence of Arabia”? Here he is discussing some of the material he absorbed to play Lawrence:
- 1937 – Garth Hudson, Canadian keyboard player, songwriter, and producer
- 1942 – Isabel Allende, Chilean-American novelist, essayist, essayist
Those who cashed in their chips on August 2 include:
- 1788 – Thomas Gainsborough, English painter (b. 1727)
Here’s an apparently unfinished painting by Gainsborough, “The Artist’s Daughters with a Cat”. The cat is either unfinished or a ghost:
- 1876 – “Wild Bill” Hickok, American sheriff (b. 1837)
- 1923 – Warren G. Harding, American journalist and politician, 29th president of the United States (b. 1865)
- 1955 – Wallace Stevens, American poet and educator (b. 1879)
Does this man look like a poet? No, he looks like an insurance company executive, which is what Stevens did most of his life. Yet during that time he wrote some of our era’s greatest poetry. My favorite is “Peter Quince at the Clavier“. Clearly the humdrum of insurance work didn’t deaden his inner life.
- 1976 – Fritz Lang, Austrian-American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1890)
- 1986 – Roy Cohn, American lawyer and politician (b. 1927)
One of the more odious characters in American history, Cohn came to public attention as the aide to Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy hearings. He was evil then, and remained so until he died. He was a buddy of Donald Trump, and Cohn’s influence there is clear. Here he is in 1954 during the hearings.
- 1997 – William S. Burroughs, American novelist, short story writer, and essayist (b. 1914)
- 1998 – Shari Lewis, American television host and puppeteer (b. 1933)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is doing metaphilosophy:
Hili: I have to think for a moment.A: What about?Hili: Good question. I have to think for a moment what to think about.
Hili: Muszę chwilę pomyśleć.Ja: O czym?Hili: To dobre pytanie. Muszę chwilę pomyśleć, o czym mam pomyśleć.
Caption: World seen from the top of a refrigerator:
From Jean. I like the X-axis:
A public post on Facebook I found and passed on. If you don’t get it, inquire in the comments and ye shall be enlightened. Comments: a. this is the woods, though sparse woods, and b. I don’t know where the Pope is:
Another superfluous sign from David:
Titania is so prescient!
If the American Medical Association is going to steal my ideas, it could at least credit me for it… 🤦♀️ pic.twitter.com/AuXCaHNTvQ
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) July 31, 2021
Bill Maher, inspired by the Olympics, dilates on woke and cancel culture in his latest monologue:
How bad does this atmosphere we're living in have to get before the people who say cancel culture is overblown admit that it is in fact an insanity that is swallowing up the world? #WokeOlympics pic.twitter.com/P9rJNs6nrs
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) July 31, 2021
A tweet from Ginger K. NOT DEAD!
“Don’t worry, she just sleeps weird” 😅 pic.twitter.com/0h0HLQrf2o
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden_) July 27, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. This pose of a mantid that makes it look like a vertebrate with its jaws open, is stunning. I think it’s likely that that is what’s being mimicked, and think of the behavioral and morphological mutations involved in the evolution of this trait. Not only that, but if it’s not disturbed, it mimics a dead leaf.
Deroplatys desiccata, also known as dead leaf mantis, is a predator, but also prey to many other predators. To scare them off, the mantis can assume a 'deimatic display', showing its wings and using its front legs to create the illusion of a toothed mouth https://t.co/zSTcGL84sM pic.twitter.com/h1smkZlCoK
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) August 1, 2021
It is a win-win, but only if they tied. And they did. According to the AP, they could have settled the gold with a jump-off, but Barshim suggested they each get a gold, and the Olympic judge agreed! I wonder if they eliminated the silver medal from this competition.
This is great but why wouldn’t you? It’s literally win-win. https://t.co/vkomuohsfA
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) August 1, 2021
Here’s a mossy frog that Matthew sent me to cheer me up. And listen to the call it makes! Translation: “Remember the moss tree frog (Theloderma corticale), which occurs in Southeast Asia and looks like something else? This one is the vocalization that males of this species emit to attract females!”
Lembram da perereca-musgo (Theloderma corticale), que ocorre no Sudeste Asiático e que parece mais outra coisa? Essa aqui é a vocalização que os machos dessa espécie emitem pra atrair as fêmeas! 💚pic.twitter.com/FTeMwKrEWs
— El Sapón (@ElGrandSapon) July 30, 2021
Either there were tricksters back then, too, or this proves that there are aliens:
The Mowing-Devil: or, Strange News out of Hartford-shire – an illustrated pamphlet from 17th-century England that documented the unexplained emergence of a crop circle in a farmer's field pic.twitter.com/EAtkszueZb
— Diane Doniol-Valcroze (@ddoniolvalcroze) August 1, 2021
The only thing I don’t get about this is why the guy didn’t insist that he get the second sandwich he paid for. I’d gladly buy a sandwich for a raccoon!
my dad ordered a sandwich and then a raccoon opened the bag on the porch and ate it so he ordered another sandwich but the restaurant assumed it was a mistake and didn’t make it so he got charged twice for a sandwich that he watched a raccoon eat
— Anthony Oliveira (@meakoopa) August 1, 2021