Happy Cat Sabbath to you on Saturday, August 7, 2021: National Raspberries and Cream Day. It’s also National Jamaican Patty Day (the Caribbean equivalent of a British pasty), Mead Day, National Mustard Day, International Blues Music Day, Beach Party Day, and National Purple Heart Day [see below under 1782].
Here’s my latest reading. I believe a reader called my attention to this book, which was bought by one of the members of Team Duck, who read it, liked it, and loaned it to me. It’s actually very good: Tarte is an engaging, humorous, and affecting writer. And it’s not just about ducks, but about a diverse array of pets that all enslaved the author. You can buy used copies for six or seven bucks. The photo was taken by Greg Mayer, who came to visit the pond and carefully excavate the two turtle nests to see if there were eggs. More about that later.
News of the Day:
As anybody with sense knows, Andew Cuomo is toast. As his circle of defenders wanes, he’s circled his only wagons around him—Cuomo himself and his lawyer. CNBC reports that 70% of New York voters think he should resign as governor, and 55% think he should be charged with a crime. In fact, yesterday a criminal complaint was filed by one of his eleven accusers, claiming that Cuomo groped her breast. According to the New York Times,
Legal experts have said that Mr. Cuomo’s conduct toward the assistant, as described in the attorney general’s report, could be charged as forcible touching, a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to one year in prison.
There are ten other women who have come forward. I wonder if Cuomo will actually find himself in jail.
NASA has begun accepting applications for a position of “faux living on Mars for a year”. Four paid test subjects will be sequestered in a windowless Mars-like environment of 1700 square feet, created with a 3D printer and placed inside the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The Associated Press gives the details:
The paid volunteers will work a simulated Martian exploration mission complete with spacewalks, limited communications back home, restricted food and resources and equipment failures.
NASA is planning three of these experiments with the first one starting in the fall next year. Food will all be ready-to-eat space food and at the moment there are no windows planned. Some plants will be grown, but not potatoes like in the movie “The Martian.” Damon played stranded astronaut Mark Watney, who survived on spuds.
“We want to understand how humans perform in them,” said lead scientist Grace Douglas. “We are looking at Mars realistic situations.”
The application process opened Friday and they’re not seeking just anybody. The requirements are strict, including a master’s degree in a science, engineering or math field or pilot experience. Only American citizens or permanent U.S. residents are eligible. Applicants have to be between 30 and 55, in good physical health with no dietary issues and not prone to motion sickness.
That shows NASA is looking for people who are close to astronauts, said former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.
There’s no information about what the pay will be. This seems a bit silly to me, as I think it’s a waste of money (and probably lives) to send people to Mars.
See below. Wait a minute! Do countries pay their Olympic athletes cash for winning medals? I had no idea: I thought they just paid for transportation and expenses, and perhaps for training. But cold, hard cash? Here’s an Instagram video that purports to show the amounts paid by different nations. (The U.S. is a piker!) I guess I’m naive to still see the Olympics as games for amateurs.
Over at his Substack website, “It Bears Mentioning,” John McWhorter explains why he doesn’t expect anti-racists like Kendi and Di Angelo to debate him. Why, he asks, should two people whom he’s raked over the coals want to engage with him in a slugfest? Nor would McWhorter debate anybody who criticized him with the same ferocity he’s leveled Kendi and Di Angelo. As McWhorter notes:
Life is short. Why should someone spend even an hour or two of their time engaging with someone who has given all indication that they heartily disapprove of their work and even find them off-putting personally? Whether it was about winning or losing, who does this?
But wait—there’s more! He gets in some licks at Kendi by saying that the man wouldn’t be adept at debating anyway because people like him haven’t had to face and deal with serious challenges to their ideas.
This kind of [lack of] training is why Kendi’s response to criticism is irritation. “How can anybody not agree with my scholarship?”, he all but says straight out. Many interpret this as him being some kind of power seeker. This is inaccurate – he gives no indication of being that kind of person. He is irritated at real questions because he has had no experience with actual academic give and take.
He likes referring to his work as “my scholarship,” for example, apparently thinking of “scholarship” as unquestionable: you just gather and present facts and you have achieved “scholarship” immune to question. Naturally, then, he assumes that criticism can only come from someone who just wants to give him trouble. Here, for example, he complains that his critics are dissing views he never expressed – genuinely unaware that clarification is a major part of defending one’s ideas (and often altering them). He openly says he won’t debate Coleman Hughes because it would entail denying that he meant this or that – genuinely unaware that this is much of what debate consists of.
Still, I’d like to see these guys have a serious debate with rules, time limits, and so on. It won’t happen.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 616,257, an increase of 497 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,290,958, 2,481,716, an increase of about 10,200 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on August 7 includes:
- 461 – Roman Emperor Majorian is beheaded near the river Iria in north-west Italy following his arrest and deposition by the magister militum Ricimer.
- 1782 – George Washington orders the creation of the Badge of Military Merit to honor soldiers wounded in battle. It is later renamed to the more poetic Purple Heart.
According to Wikipedia, though, the medal, “designed by Washington in the form of a purple heart. . . . was intended as a military order for soldiers who exhibited, “not only instances of unusual gallantry in battle, but also extraordinary fidelity and essential service in any way.” There’s no indication that at the time being wounded was a requirement. Here’s one of the originals, and only three were handed out during the Revolutionary War:
Grammar! How many women were executed for the 1889 Yngsiö murder? Only one.
- 1930 – The last confirmed lynching of black people in the Northern United States occurs in Marion, Indiana; two men, Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, are killed.
These were of course black men, and you can see the photo of their lynching here, but I didn’t want to embed it in this post.
- 1942 – World War II: The Battle of Guadalcanal begins as the United States Marines initiate the first American offensive of the war with landings on Guadalcanal and Tulagi in the Solomon Islands.
- 1947 – Thor Heyerdahl‘s balsa wood raft, the Kon-Tiki, smashes into the reef at Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands after a 101-day, 7,000 kilometres (4,300 mi) journey across the Pacific Ocean in an attempt to prove that pre-historic peoples could have traveled from South America.
Here’s a three-minute video of the voyage, but of course we know now that the inhabitants of Polynesia came not from South America, but from Southeast Asia. Further, the South Americans were descendants of people from northern Asia who crossed the Bering Strait about fifteen thousand years ago.
You can see the raft (it must have been spruced up) at the Kon Tiki Museum in Oslo:
- 1962 – Canadian-born American pharmacologist Frances Oldham Kelsey awarded the U.S. President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service for her refusal to authorize thalidomide.
Thalidomide was prescribed widely in Canada, Europe, and Africa as a drug for morning sickness and as a tranquilizer and painkiller. Kelsey demanded further studies before she’d approve it for use in the U.S. Soon enough, they discovered that the drug caused severe birth defects. Here’s the hero, who was one of eleven doctors vetting drugs for the FDA:
- 1970 – California judge Harold Haley is taken hostage in his courtroom and killed during an effort to free George Jackson from police custody.
- 1974 – Philippe Petit performs a high wire act between the twin towers of the World Trade Center 1,368 feet (417 m) in the air.
The walk, without a security line, took all of 50 minutes! The video below shows how the whole stunt was set up surreptitiously:
- 1987 – Cold War: Lynne Cox becomes the first person to swim from the United States to the Soviet Union, crossing the Bering Strait from Little Diomede Island in Alaska to Big Diomede in the Soviet Union.
Here’s a video of Cox talking about her swim. She’s superhuman: she swam for two hours in 38°F (3.3°C) water to bridge the distance. I don’t know how she does it. (Press “Watch on YouTube”.)
- 1990 – First American soldiers arrive in Saudi Arabia as part of the Gulf War.
- 2007 – At AT&T Park, Barry Bonds hits his 756th career home run to surpass Hank Aaron‘s 33-year-old record.
Bonds went on to hit 762 home runs. Although he still holds the homer record, he has not been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame because of deep suspicion that he used performance-enhancing drugs at a time when there was no testing for them. His ten years of eligibility for Cooperstown expires in 2022. Here’s his record-breaking homer:
Notables born on this day include:
- 1867 – Emil Nolde, Danish-German painter and illustrator (d. 1956)
This 1911 painting by Nolde is called “Exotic Figures II”, but those are clearly cats.
Shot by a firing squad as a spy for Germany, it’s not 100% clear that she did any spying, though she did take money from the Germans for that purpose. Here she is in her dancing outfit:
- 1903 – Louis Leakey, Kenyan-English palaeontologist and archaeologist (d. 1972)
- 1904 – Ralph Bunche, American political scientist, academic, and diplomat, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1971)
- 1929 – Don Larsen, American baseball player (d. 2020)
Larsen remains the only major league pitcher to hurl a perfect game (nobody reaching first base) in a World Series. It was in the fifth game of the 1956 World Series, and Larsen was pitching for the Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Yanks won, 2-0. Here’s a short video of the game:
- 1942 – Garrison Keillor, American humorist, novelist, short story writer, and radio host
- 1954 – Jonathan Pollard, Israeli spy
Pollard was convicted in 1987, the only American ever convicted of spying for an ally. Though given a life sentence, he was released in 2015 and moved with his wife to Israel.
- 1975 – Charlize Theron, South African actress
Those whose Krebs cycle stopped cycling on August 7 were few, and include:
- 461 – Majorian, Roman emperor (b. 420)
- 1941 – Rabindranath Tagore, Indian author, poet, and playwright, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1861)
Here’s the room in which Tagore died, which I photographed in 2014. It was part of the sprawling family home where he was born.
Tagore in 1931 in Germany; the caption says he’s celebrating his 70th birthday on the day of the photo.
Tagore was a polymath: artist, poet, songwriter, playwright, philosopher—he did it all. Here’s my favorite of his songs that I’ve heard (he wrote over 2,200 of them!). It’s gorgeous and haunting: “Tai Tomar Aanondo”. I had the privilege of hearing it performed live in Santiniketan, the intellectual enclave in West Bengal founded by the Tagore family. The song is in Bengali, and you can read more about it here.
- 1957 – Oliver Hardy, American actor, singer, and director (b. 1892)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili rejects a compliment, because she knows that Andrzej isn’t sincere.
Andrzej: Welcome, o tiger’s cousin.Hili: I’m not in the mood for stupid jokes.
Ja: Witaj kuzynko tygrysa.Hili: Nie jestem dziś w nastroju do głupich żartów.
And Little Kulka had a bird encounter.
The caption: A young swift collided with our window and sat, stunned, on the window sill. Kulka was enchanted. It recovered and flew away after 30 minutes.
From Laurie Ann:
And another cat meme from Divy:
From Ginger K. It appears to be the Synchronized Napping event:
— Catnip (@johnstf) July 26, 2021
Two tweets from Simon. In the first, he said, “Don’t try this at home. Although apparently they did!”
Which law of Physics?🤔 pic.twitter.com/fACMGmKv4g
— Amazing Physics (@amazing_physics) August 6, 2021
The Lightning Round of the Vaccine Game Show.
Just Get Vaccinated pic.twitter.com/pLScnZE5uJ
— Dr. Glaucomflecken (@DGlaucomflecken) August 6, 2021
Did the sign say, “No bears allowed”?
ain’t no way pic.twitter.com/uDqLYGdLQr
— have you ever worn a seatbelt? (@pants_so_short) August 4, 2021
I count only four:
The cat almost seems to have too many legs. pic.twitter.com/T5vBUJ4k2n
— Raymond (@raubrey) August 6, 2021
Man, ping pong (or “table tennis” has gone way beyond anything I could imagine:
greatest volley in the history of the world pic.twitter.com/TedE0vs03M
— YS (@NYinLA2121) August 2, 2021
Here’s a devastating landslide in India:
Video footage from my son stranded in Himachal, India. Landslide, an entire road disappearing with some commentary from the locals. 📽️🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/DanspjAecv
— Dr Krispy Oz 🇦🇺🏳️🌈🦠🤝😷🔬💉 (@KrispyOz31) July 30, 2021
This is an absolutely fantastic comic strip (click to enlarge):
This is legitimately one of my favourite standalone comic strips pic.twitter.com/df5UqdSpBx
— Marie le Comptroller (@tramfrau) August 5, 2021