Good morning on the first Wednesday in August—August 4, 2021: National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. These are infinitely better than oatmeal cookies, which I sometimes mistake for chocolate chip cookies at parties or buffets. Usually you can tell the odious oatmeal cookies because they have raisins in them, but sometimes they disguise them by putting in chocolate chips. I believe people are under the impression that oatmeal cookies are a healthy snack.
It’s also National White Wine Day, Assistance Dog Day, U.S. Coast Guard Day, Single Working Women’s Day, and Barack Obama Day (he was born on August 4, and is sixty years old today; see below). Wikipedia helpfully adds this:
Twitter users unofficially celebrated Obama Day on June 14, 2020, posting pictures of the former president, with some using the hashtag #AllBirthdaysMatter in response to All Lives Matter. June 14 is also Donald Trump’s birthday.
Today’s Google Doodle is about who can get vaccinated and where, tailored for where you live (yes, they know where you live). Click on screenshot:
News of the Day:
It’s now been 196 days since the Bidens started living in the White House. Where is the First Cat they promised us? They even had a female moggie picked out who was tested for compatibility with their remaining dog. But there is no litter box, no scratching post, in the First Residence. We were conned! Why doesn’t somebody ask Jen Psaki about this?
New York governor Andrew Cuomo is in big trouble. According to a report by the New York State attorney general, Cuomo not only acted immorally towards multiple women, but also probably broke both state and federal laws. (The 165-page report is here.) A excerpt from the NYT:
The 165-page report said that Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, and his aides cultivated a toxic work culture in his office that was rife with fear and intimidation, and helped enable “harassment to occur and created a hostile work environment.”
The report included at least two previously unreported allegations of sexual harassment from women who accused Mr. Cuomo of improperly touching them, including an unnamed female state trooper and an employee of an energy company. And it highlighted at least one instance in which Mr. Cuomo and his aides retaliated against one of the women who made her allegations public.
The NY state attorney general is now investigating (read “investigating possible charges”), and it looks like Cuomo, who was a golden boy early in the pandemic, might well end up in an orange jumpsuit. Cuomo is fighting back hard, denying every serious charge and asserting that he’s just a touchy-feely kind of guy. Well, read some of the testimony from the 11 complainants and see for yourself.
. . . and I’ve just heard that Biden has said that Cuomo should resign. So has the editorial board of the New York Times. Cuomo can fight, but he can’t fight his way out of this toaster. And if he resigns or is removed from office, the state will have its first woman governor, the present Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.
Giving in to the more liberal members of the Democratic Congress, President Biden is now investigating whether there would be ways to extend the pandemic-induced moratorium on evictions, put in place by the CDC, that expired at the end of July. The administration has previously claimed it didn’t have the legal authority to do this unilaterally, based on an opinion by Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh, who said that further extension is the responsibility of the Congress. But an extension measure would never pass the Senate given the 60-vote requirement to end a filibuster. This opens up a breach between Biden and members of his own party, so he’s been unable not just to reach across the aisle, but to others within his own section. (UPDATE: I just learned that the CDC has imposed another 60-day freeze on evictions, though the courts may declare that invalid.)
According to the CBC, there’s now talk of changing the name of British Columbia, for, after all, its name is partly derived from Christopher Columbus.
Robert Jago, a writer and consultant from the Kwantlen First Nation and the Nooksack Tribe, says any association with the Italian explorer, who is widely associated with the beginnings of the violent colonization of the Americas, is problematic.
“I think everyone knows this by now, but Christopher Columbus had some issues. Even in his day, he was seen as incredibly violent, genocidal,” Jago told guest host Angela Sterritt on CBC’s The Early Edition.
“To name a jurisdiction after this person is, in this day and age, not something we would do.”
A possible substitute name?
Jago says one possible name for the region, which he described in detail in a recent article for Canadian Geographic, is the name S’ólh Téméxw, pronounced “soul tow-mock.” It means “our land” or “our world” in Halkomelem, the language spoken by the Kwantlen people at Fort Langley, where B.C. was declared a colony in 1858.
I think they should choose another replacement name, for I’m pretty sure Canada will have to change the name of B.C. The article describes other Canadian names that have recently been changed for similar “problematic” reasons, including Dundas street in Toronto. (h/t Rick)
How many times have you bought a ticket online only to be slapped with hidden fees—not just the Ticketmaster fees but “service fees” and “order processing fees” and god knows what else. And that’s not just for tickets: it applies to phone bills and many other items with “hidden charges.” These are known as “drip fees”, and are the topic of a NYT op-ed called “Stop the Hidden Fee Rip-Off” by NYU attorney Max Sarinsky. It turns out that the Federal Trade Commission could stop this rip-off (most consumers just go ahead and pay the feed, assuming that if they’re in for a nickel, they’re in for a dime), but haven’t done squat. Now, however, the FTC is in the hands of Democrats, and agency chair Lina Khan might be ready to demand that full prices be shown upfront, before you begin paying. One can hope. . .
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 614,104, an increase of 371 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,260,635, an increase of about 10,300 over yesterday’s total.
News on this day is a bit thin, and that includes birthdays and deathdays. Stuff that happened on August 4 includes:
- 1693 – Date traditionally ascribed to Dom Perignon‘s invention of champagne; it is not clear whether he actually invented champagne, however he has been credited as an innovator who developed the techniques used to perfect sparkling wine. Here’s Peignon’s gravestone in the church of Hautvillers, région Champagne.
It’s pretty clear that, in fact, Dom Perignon did not invent champagne, but rather a way to blend grapes before making it (champagne was originally an accident, a byproduct of incomplete fermentation). I once had a bottle of 15 year old Dom; it was very good, but not as good as I’d hoped.
- 1873 – American Indian Wars: While protecting a railroad survey party in Montana, the United States 7th Cavalry, under Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer clashes for the first time with the Cheyenne and Lakota people near the Tongue River; only one man on each side is killed.
- 1892 – The father and stepmother of Lizzie Borden are found murdered in their Fall River, Massachusetts home. She was tried and acquitted for the crimes a year later.
There’s little doubt that Borden did the deed, though she was acquitted. She continued to live in Fall River, though she was ostracized, for the rest of her life. Here’s a photo:
- 1914 – In response to the German invasion of Belgium, Belgium and the British Empire declare war on Germany. The United States declares its neutrality.
- 1944 – The Holocaust: A tip from a Dutch informer leads the Gestapo to a sealed-off area in an Amsterdam warehouse, where they find and arrest Jewish diarist Anne Frank, her family, and four others.
Here is the entrance to the “Secret Annexe” where Frank and her family lived for two years (1942-1944) before they were caught. It was up a flight of stairs hidden behind a bookshelf, and you can visit it in Amsterdam (be sure to reserve tickets well in advance; it’s become immensely popular place to visit). The only survivor of the war was the father, Otto Frank, who preserved the diary; Anne and her sister Margot almost certainly died of typhus or typhoid.
- 1964 – Civil rights movement: Civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney are found dead in Mississippi after disappearing on June 21.
Here’s the FBI poster reporting them missing. They were killed by two carloads of Klan members, eight of whom were eventually convicted (one not until 2005).
- 1984 – The Republic of Upper Volta changes its name to Burkina Faso.
- 2020 – At least 220 people are killed and over 5,000 are wounded when 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate explodes in Beirut, Lebanon.
I’m sure you saw the explosion, which produced a visible shock wave and a mushroom-shaped cloud of gas, on television. They still haven’t held anyone responsible, but here’s a video of the explosion that concentrates on the science of ammonium nitrate and why access to it is restricted.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1792 – Percy Bysshe Shelley, English poet and playwright (d. 1822)
Died in a boating accident at age 29. “Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
- 1834 – John Venn, English mathematician and philosopher (d. 1923)
Yes, inventor of the Venn diagram, like this one:
- 1901 – Louis Armstrong, American trumpet player and singer (d. 1971)
Here’s one of my favorite early Armstrong songs, “Struttin’ with some barbecue” (great title), recorded in Chicago by Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five on December 9, 1927. The song was written by Lil Hardin, shown below, a member of the group, the pianist, and Armstrong’s wife at the time. I love his laid back trumpet solos.
- 1961 – Barack Obama, American lawyer and politician, 44th President of the United States, Nobel Prize laureate. Great tan suit!
Obama is sixty today!
- 1962 – Roger Clemens, American baseball player and actor
- 1981 – Meghan Markle, American actress and humanitarian, and member of British Royal Family
Those who expired on August 4 include:
Here’s Andersen photographed in 1869, looking exactly as I imagined he would (I hadn’t seen a photo of him before). Lest you forget how prolific this man was, he wrote novels, plays, travelogues, and poems—and of course great fairy tales. Remember these?: “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “The Little Mermaid,” “The Nightingale,” “The Steadfast Tin Soldier“, “The Red Shoes“, “The Princess and the Pea,” “The Snow Queen,” “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Little Match Girl,” and “Thumbelina.”
- 1962 – Marilyn Monroe, American model and actress (b. 1926)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is acting like a cat:
Hili: These roses are not fresh anymore.Andrjez: They need to be thrown away.Hili: I can throw them on the floor.
Hili: Te róże tracą świeżość.Ja: Trzeba je już wyrzucić.Hili: Mogę je zrzucić na podłogę.
And here’s a photo by Paulina of Szaron and his BFF, little Kulka, snoozing together:
From Jean: A monkey playing with ducklings. Be sure to click on the arrow to watch the video. The ducklings are clearly imprinted on the primate, though. Where is their mom?
From Jesus of the Day:
Two from Titania:
Cancel culture is *not* real.
When we call for you to be sacked, trash your reputation, dogpile you online, insult you, libel you and wish for your death, that’s just our way of gently helping you to come over to the right side of history.#LoveWins
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) August 3, 2021
If you think “facts” are more important than retweets, you’re part of the problem.
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) August 2, 2021
Tweets from Simon (I found the second one):
Afterall in the pandemic, employee fitness and engagement is important, isn't it???!!! 😉😄😄 pic.twitter.com/u1vGUXJEve
— Alibaba and 40 Others! (@beingtolerant) August 3, 2021
From reader Tom, who says this: “I’m guessing you’ve already seen this, but as a lifelong Yankee fan from north Jersey this was definitely the best part of last night’s game, a brutal loss to the basement-dwelling Orioles.”
No, I hadn’t seen it, but it’s a nice cat and I hope these loose stadium cats find good homes. I always wonder what becomes of them when they’re caught.
Yankee Stadium security chases a cat around the field for nearly four minutes and never gets its hands on what might be the most elusive animal that ever lived pic.twitter.com/w2HR4H3HaW
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) August 3, 2021
Some “home truths” (what does that mean, anyway?) from reader Barry:
There are three religious truths:
1) Jews do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
2) Protestants do not recognize the Pope as the leader of the Christian faith.
3) Baptists do not recognize each other in the liquor store or at Hooters.
— Pollytheist Parrot (@Shambo) August 2, 2021
Tweets from Matthew, who’s now on “hols”. First, Kangaroo Words!
Oops. Rather a consequential typo, given the context: the word from Jabberwocky is “slithy.”
— Greg Priest (@greg_m_priest) August 3, 2021
Twain, of course, was an atheist:
Mark Twain's marginal note in his copy of Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle: "Can any plausible excuse be furnished for the crime of creating the human race?" pic.twitter.com/FAQ0E0DgDW
— Jan Mieszkowski (@janmpdx) August 3, 2021
At last some good news about Wally the Walrus, who lost his way badly and needs to get back to the Arctic. He seems to be heading that way. As the BBC notes in the link below:
Dan Jarvis from British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), which has been monitoring the walrus, said a sighting was confirmed on Monday afternoon.
“We are really pleased it has worked out for the best,” he said.