Other celebrations include Melon Day, National Zucchini Day (the worst vegetable in the world; why else would people be so eager to get rid of their excess crop?), Scottish Wildcat Day, and Happiness Happens Day.
Wine of the Day: This Oregon Pinot Noir (from a highly reputed vintner) is from 2015, the price was $27, and the ratings of other civilians like me are good but not outstanding. It may be too old, but let’s sample it with chicken thighs, fresh-picked corn, and green beans. . . and it was very good. Not “dense and powerful,” as the label described it, but lighter and fruity, with a nose like roses and cherries. An absolute delight going down the throat, delicious and quaffable. Would I pay $27 again? Probably not, as I like red wines with a bit more stuffing, but I don’t regret the purchase.
And the Olympics come to an end, celebrated with the return of the interactive cat game (click on screenshot):
News of the Day:
It’s exactly 200 days since the Bidens moved into the White House, and yet there is no cat there. Where is the moggy they promised us—a First Cat? Britain has Larry, the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, who lives at 10 Downing Street. Where is the American counterpart? Do I need to pretend that I’m eight and send a letter to the White House inquiring about the cat?
I haven’t said much about the wildfires in the western U.S. as they’re all over the news and I haven’t anything to add. But I will note that the Dixie Fire in California is now the largest wildfire in California history, with eight people missing, the smoke easily visible from space, and the pollution detected as far east as Denver.
And if that wasn’t enough, there are several big wildfires raging in Greece, including in the suburbs of Athens where I lived as a child, in Crete where I lived for a month, and in Olympia, one of my favorite places in the Peloponnese and the birthplace of the Olympic Games.
The Mother of all Superspreader events is about to commence (It actually started on August 6th and continues through the 15th). Yes, it’s South Dakota’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. I imagine that bikers are generally not keen wearers of masks, and last year’s event attracted hundreds of ambulatory Petri dishes:
The 81st annual motorcycle rally comes a year after roughly 460,000 attendees shunned masks and social distancing at an event that researchers associated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded “had many characteristics of a superspreading event.” At least 649 covid-19 cases were linked to the Sturgis rally, but the true total was obscured because contact tracing was difficult after bikers returned to their home states.
. . .Despite the potential for a surge in coronavirus cases, South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R) has given her blessing to the motorcycle rally. The governor is supporting the large crowds expected for a 10-day event that generates $800 million in sales for the local economy, according to South Dakota’s Department of Tourism.
“Bikers come here because they WANT to be here. And we love to see them!” Noem wrote on Facebook this week. “There’s a risk associated with everything that we do in life. Bikers get that better than anyone.”
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is an annual event, and according to Wikipedia began in 1938 as a way to honor the fabled Indian motorcycle. Genuine Indians were discontinued in 1953, but various companies have licensed the names since then.
The New York Times has taken to distilling complex stories into, yes, comic books. Read “The Downfall of Ezra Pound,” apparently written for morons or the word-challenged. Expect the paper to become more and more like a “graphic novel.”
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 616,458, an increase of 506 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,301,161, an increase of about 10,200 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on August 8 includes:
- 1786 – Mont Blanc on the French-Italian border is climbed for the first time by Jacques Balmat and Dr. Michel-Gabriel Paccard.
Here’s a photo; it’s 15,777 feet high (4,809 m. ) and the second highest mountain in Europe after Mount Elbrus (5642 m). Mont Blanc:
- 1844 – The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, headed by Brigham Young, is reaffirmed as the leading body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).
- 1863 – American Civil War: Following his defeat in the Battle of Gettysburg, General Robert E. Lee sends a letter of resignation to Confederate President Jefferson Davis (which is refused upon receipt).
- 1876 – Thomas Edison receives a patent for his mimeograph.
Here’s an early version of the mimeograph from about 1900. It was a box with a stencil, rollers, and ink:
- 1908 – Wilbur Wright makes his first flight at a racecourse at Le Mans, France. It is the Wright Brothers’ first public flight.
Here’s a low-qualty video of that public flight:
Here’s the ship; the circumambulation took 21 days. It carried 24 passengers and 36 crew. Some details from Wikipedia:
The galley staff served three hot meals a day in the main dining and sitting room, which was square and 5 metres (16 ft) on each side. It had four large arched windows, wooden inlays, and Art Deco-upholstered furniture. Between meals, the passengers could socialise and look at the scenery. On the round-the-world flight, there was dancing to a phonograph, fine wine, and Ernst Lehmann, one of the officers, played the accordion. A corridor led to ten passenger cabins capable of sleeping 24, a pair of washrooms, and dual chemical toilets.]The passenger cabins were set by day with a sofa, which converted at night into two beds. The cabins were often cold, and on some sectors passengers wore furs and huddled under blankets to stay warm. There was a noticeable smell from the Blau gas, especially when the ship was stationary.
Here’s the dining room. The passengers complained incessantly of the cold:
- 1942 – Quit India Movement is launched in India against the British rule in response to Mohandas Gandhi‘s call for swaraj or complete independence.
A video about the movement that began on this day:
- 1963 – Great Train Robbery: In England, a gang of 15 train robbers steal £2.6 million in bank notes.
- 1969 – At a zebra crossing in London, photographer Iain Macmillan takes the iconic photo that becomes the cover image of the Beatles’ album Abbey Road.
Part of the cover shoot:
- 1974 – President Richard Nixon, in a nationwide television address, announces his resignation from the office of the President of the United States effective noon the next day.
And here’s Tricky Dick’s resignation. We were so happy!
- 1988 – The first night baseball game in the history of Chicago’s Wrigley Field (game was rained out in the fourth inning).
I remember that; there were loud protests against night baseball, but it was a “thing” and is now firmly established.
- 1990 – Iraq occupies Kuwait and the state is annexed to Iraq. This would lead to the Gulf War shortly afterward.
- 2000 – Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley is raised to the surface after 136 years on the ocean floor and 30 years after its discovery by undersea explorer E. Lee Spence.
After successfully attacking a Union warship, the sub itself was blown apart by its own torpedo, killing the eight-man crew. The sub was recovered in 2000 and is now displayed (in a tank of water) in North Charleston, South Carolina. Here it is in a tank of dissolved sodium hydroxide:
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.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1879 – Emiliano Zapata, Mexican general and politician (d. 1919)
Here’s Zapata in 1914; he was gunned down at the age of 39.
Rawlings wrote several books, and her one famous work of fiction, The Yearling is a doozy. You should read it. It was edited by the great Maxwell Perkins (who also “discovered” F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, and Ernest Hemingway), won her a Pulitzer Prize in 1939, and was later made into a movie with Jane Wyman and Gregory Peck (1946).
Rawlings’s 1942 memoir, Cross Creek, is also good, but she never again attained the heights of The Yearling. Here’s Rawlings; you can still visit her home in Cross Creek, Florida:
- 1901 – Ernest Lawrence, American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1958)
- 1902 – Paul Dirac, English-American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1984)
Here’s Dirac’s marker in Westminster Abbey. He predicted the positron, though I don’t know what the equation represents. Dirac was a strange fellow.
- 1921 – Esther Williams, American swimmer and actress (d. 2013)
- 1932 – Mel Tillis, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2017)
- 1937 – Dustin Hoffman, American actor and director
Those who attained eternal rest on August 8 include:
- 1940 – Johnny Dodds, American clarinet player and saxophonist (b. 1892)
- 1975 – Cannonball Adderley, American saxophonist (b. 1928)
- 1985 – Louise Brooks, American actress (b. 1906)
An “it girl” with bangs and a bob, I urge you to read about Brooks yourself, as I’d simply write too much. She was immensely popular as an actress and sex symbol in the Thirties:
- 2004 – Fay Wray, Canadian-American actress (b. 1907)
- 2013 – Karen Black, American actress (b. 1939)
- 2017 – Glen Campbell, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (b. 1936)
Before he became a big star, Campbell was a session guitarist, and a terrific one. He was part of “The Wrecking Crew“: session musicians playing behind others. I like to show this clip of him playing “Gentle on My Mind”, the John Hartford song that became a big hit for Campbell. It shows how dextrous he was on the string. There are a ton of big-name country stars listening; how many can you identify? But of course my favorite of his songs is “Galveston”, and you can hear that, with another great solo (starts at 2:40), here.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron are joshing. But they’re now sleeping together regularly! (Kulka is still the odd cat out, as Hili doesn’t like her.)
Hili: Don’t pretend that you are asleep.Szaron: I don’t understand what you are talking about.
Hili: Nie udawaj, że śpisz.
Szaron: Nie rozumiem o czym mówisz.
From the Purrfect Feline Page on Facebook. Did you find the panda?
From Jesus of the Day:
From the Furtastic site on Facebook, we see a manifestation of Ceiling Cat!
From Enrico. Don’t laugh: what with all the wonky sports in the Olympics, can corgi racing be far behind? Sound up.
you: twitter is vile with nothing but bad takes and toxicity
me: have u seen the corgi championship pic.twitter.com/ROUYWJJzUL
— j.d. durkin (@jiveDurkey) August 6, 2021
Reader Gethyn says that this makes him tear up. Me too!
Remember that woman a few months ago who adopted a 20-year-old cat from a shelter because she didn't want him to die alone? Looks as though they are both doing fine. ❤️😽❤️ pic.twitter.com/I0jtjf986w
— Lorenzo The Cat (@LorenzoTheCat) August 7, 2021
From Ginger K. Actually, if the rocks don’t have carbon in them, they’re not organic. Or maybe that’s what the caption means.
— Jesse Walters (@thegeojesse) July 26, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. First, a magnificent kitty:
Two years ago today, around midday, this magnificent female Snow Leopard was hunting Himalayan Marmots in the meadows of the Tibetan Plateau. One of the most memorable encounters with the “grey ghost”, alongside @biologistimo and @ShanCenter pic.twitter.com/MfIfKxhGBl
— Birding Beijing 北京观鸟 (@BirdingBeijing) August 7, 2021
Read here to learn about The Music Box steps, site of a great scene from the eponymous Lauren and Hardy comedy (Matthew’s a big fan)
🎹 1932: #AugmentedReality reveals #LaurelAndHardy standing beside a piano crate on the “#MusicBoxSteps” in #SilverLake. What's your favorite black-and-white #comedy? 🎭 @Stan_And_Ollie #StanAndOllie @filmtourismus #FilmHistory #HollywoodLegends pic.twitter.com/SHNOQftQ9R
— ReplayAR: The future of preserving the past (@ReplayAR) July 29, 2021
Music inspired by stoneflies! Needless to say, turn sound up.
A wee musical project with good pal @bugsymac1 from @Buzz_dont_tweet, to make some instrumental music that incorporates the abdominal (sexual) drumming of a quintet of UK #stonefly (#Plecoptera) species. More of a percussive than a string quintet! https://t.co/YclEaKYuOf
— Scot Mathieson (@scot_nature_boy) July 24, 2021
This got me thinking: what is the world’s longest palindrome?
— Chitra Viraraghavan (@CViraraghavan) July 29, 2021
Well, it depends if you want a word or a bunch of words that read the same backwards and forwards. In fact, there are two entire palindromic novels, and then, for a single word, we must go to Finland:
In English, two palindromic novels have been published: Satire: Veritas by David Stephens (1980, 58,795 letters), and Dr Awkward & Olson in Oslo by Lawrence Levine (1986, 31,954 words). Another palindromic English work is a 224-word long poem, “Dammit I’m Mad”, written by Demetri Martin. “Weird Al” Yankovic’s song “Bob” is composed entirely of palindromes.
According to Guinness World Records, the Finnish 19-letter word saippuakivikauppias (a soapstone vendor), is the world’s longest palindromic word in everyday use