Good morning on a Friday the 13th; yes, it’s Friday, August 13, 2021: National Filet Mignon Day, celebrating a tender but flavorless cut of beef. It’s also International Lefthanders Day, National Prosecco Day, National Kool-Aid Day, and Skeptics Day International.
News of the Day:
The U.S. is sending 3,000 troops back to Afghanistan’s Kabul Airport as a temporary measure to help Americans and Afghans who helped the U.S. evacuate before the Taliban takes over Kabul. (My prediction: Kabul will be in Taliban hands within ten days.) All Americans have been asked to leave the country, and the U.S. has requested that the Taliban spare the American embassy in Kabul under pain of not receiving foreign aid. (As if they’d care!). It’s so sad to see, as I did on the news last night, videos of women shopping by themselves in Kabul, taking yoga classes, and seeing girls going to school—knowing that this will all be gone within a month.
The vote was 50-49, with 49 Dems voting against the provision (Republican Senator Tom Cotton, author) to block federal funding from being used it to teach critical race theory in prekindergarten and K-12 schools. (This is part of the pending budget bill.) Renegade Dem Joe Manchin joined 49 Republicans (except Mike Rounds, who didn’t vote) to pass this bill, which, remember, is just a Senate vote and must pass the House as well. I’m not a fan of banning the teaching of CRT, much as I’m opposed to some of its tenets, as that banning it smacks of government censorship, and a different Congress could ban other stuff.
Here’s another headline, this one in the NYT, that begs for clicking. Andie Taylor, 48, who transitioned at 45, narrates a 6-minute video accompanying the article.
Taylor’s own decision is that she won’t run in women’s races where she has a chance to win until science tells her that she doesn’t have a biological advantage because she was a man. She doesn’t like the “trans sports” issue being used as a political football, and she’s right, and she’s also right that we don’t have the data she wants (apparently she’s undergone hormonal and surgical intervention. An excerpt:
In the Opinion video above, Ms. Taylor describes how she is eager to compete among women and yearns for inclusion — but only if the scientific research unequivocally shows that her years living as a male did not give her an advantage.
There is little research regarding the performance of transgender athletes, in part because their numbers are so small. Some evidence suggests that trans women retain some athletic advantages after a year of undergoing testosterone suppression. Researchers have also found that those advantages, with time, largely fall away.
As research advances, Ms. Taylor is imploring all sides in the debate to refrain from using the issue for political gain.
“I want to win,” she says, “but I only want to win if I know it’s fair.”
She’s thoughtful and articulate, so what the hell is the NYT doing publishing people with ideas like hers?
I think the data is starting to show that—especially if you transition after puberty—the advantages may decrease, but never disappear. And until we have strength or performance data on women who have undergone medically-supervised transitions, Taylor will be uncomfortable, and the rest of us won’t know how to make the rules. But there’s one rule I think is absolutely sensible: transwomen who are medically untreated (no surgery, no hormones) should not be competing in women’s sports.
Boston’s famous Skinny House in the Italian North End, which is four stories high, 1,165 ft² in area, but at most ten feet across, is on the market for $1.2 million. There’s a photo below, and the Boston Globe article has more pictures of the interior. Why is it so skinny? The article says that two brothers who had fallen out jointly inherited land around it, and one brother built the Skinny House to block the other’s view. Here you go:
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 619,723, an increase of 616 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,349,493, an increase of about 10,700 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on August 13 includes:
- 1521 – After an extended siege, forces led by Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés capture Tlatoani Cuauhtémoc and conquer the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan.
What it must have been to cast eyes on that city—aa city on an islet on a lake, with a population of 140,000 or more people! Here’s what it likely looked like:
- 1624 – The French king Louis XIII appoints Cardinal Richelieu as prime minister.
- 1889 – William Gray of Hartford, Connecticut is granted United States Patent Number 408,709 for “Coin-controlled apparatus for telephones.”
And here’s the patent for the payphone. Do these even exist any more? I haven’t been in a phone booth in decades!
- 1905 – Norwegians vote to end the union with Sweden.
- 1906 – The all black infantrymen of the U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry Regiment are accused of killing a white bartender and wounding a white police officer in Brownsville, Texas, despite exculpatory evidence; all are later dishonorably discharged. (Their records were later restored to reflect honorable discharges but there were no financial settlements.)
Here’s a photo of the 25th in Montana in 1890:
- 1954 – Radio Pakistan broadcasts the “Qaumī Tarāna“, the national anthem of Pakistan for the first time.
It was written (the tune, not the lyrics) in 1947, right after Independence. Why did it take Radio Pakistan so long to broadcast it?
- 1961 – Cold War: East Germany closes the border between the eastern and western sectors of Berlin to thwart its inhabitants’ attempts to escape to the West, and construction of the Berlin Wall is started. The day is known as Barbed Wire Sunday.
Here’s a sort video of the construction of the wall (supposedly constructed to keep people out of the Communist Paradise) on Barbed Wire Sunday. Despite restrictions on leaving that started that day, 800 East Berliners made it out to West Berlin.
- 1964 – Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans are hanged for the murder of John Alan West becoming the last people executed in the United Kingdom.
- 1967 – Two young women became the first fatal victims of grizzly bear attacks in the 57-year history of Montana’s Glacier National Park in separate incidents.
Here’s the book about the incidents. It’s a grim tale; one woman would have escaped but the zipper on her sleeping bag got stuck, and the bear dragged her and her bag into the woods:
- 1969 – The Apollo 11 astronauts enjoy a ticker tape parade in New York City. That evening, at a state dinner in Los Angeles, they are awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by U.S. President Richard Nixon.
- 2020 – Israel–United Arab Emirates relations are formally established.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1860 – Annie Oakley, American target shooter (d. 1926)
Here’s Oakley, who really was a crack shot:
- 1895 – Bert Lahr, American actor (d. 1967)
The Cowardly Lion! Here’s the story about how his costume came about and was restored: it weighed 60 pounds and was made from a real lion skin (the mane, however, was made of human hair):
- 1899 – Alfred Hitchcock, English-American director and producer (d. 1980)
- 1912 – Ben Hogan, American golfer and sportscaster (d. 1997)
- 1912 – Salvador Luria, Italian-American microbiologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1991)
- 1926 – Fidel Castro, Cuban lawyer and politician, 15th President of Cuba (d. 2016)
- 1948 – Kathleen Battle, American operatic soprano
Here’s Battle in China, singing my favorite opera aria. I prefer Dame Kiri’s version, but Battle, a great singer, was sixty when she sang this. In 1994 she was dropped from the Met for being difficult to work with.
Those who began pushing up daisies on August 13 include:
- 1865 – Ignaz Semmelweis, Hungarian physician and obstetrician (b. 1818)
Semmelweis is famous for introducing handwashing (in Vienna) to reduce infection when doctors who performed autopsies then delivered babies. This was staph infection that caused “puerperal fever” (childbed fever). He is a medical hero, and here are the results of Semmelwis’s introduction of handwashing with chloride of lime. This is percentage of patients dying per month!
Another medical hero: here’s Nightingale (date supposedly 1898, though she looks too young to be 78!):
- 1917 – Eduard Buchner, German chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1860)
- 1946 – H. G. Wells, English novelist, historian, and critic (b. 1866)
- 1995 – Mickey Mantle, American baseball player and sportscaster (b. 1931)
- 2004 – Julia Child, American chef, author, and television host (b. 1912)
Here from 1978, when SNL was great, is Dan Akroyd imitating Julia Child:
- 2010 – Edwin Newman, American journalist and author (b. 1919)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is pondering deeply:
A: What are you doing over there?Hili: I’m thinking about the collapse of civilization.
Ja: Co tam robisz?Hili: Zastanawiam się nad upadkiem cywilizacji.
I believe I posted this as a tweet, but it’s funny enough to post again:
From Casual Christian Comedy via Stash Krod:
From Jesus of the Day:
From Masih, and yes, American and British vaccines are banned in Iran because authorities think that the West would be using Iranians as guinea pigs. It’s very sad.
"World! Please help us! Young patients are dying of coronavirus in front of my eyes in huge numbers"
Listen to the harrowing account of this Iranian nurse from the city of Mashhad.
Authorities have banned Western vaccines, creating a disaster and killing an entire nation pic.twitter.com/b1ksDXaB6C
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) August 11, 2021
Here’s a tweet of LA Dodgers second baseman Trea Turner making the most effortless slide into home that I’ve seen. In fact, it’s gone pretty viral, being set to music as in the second tweet:
From Luana: I suppose the point of this tweet is to worry the woke about being on the side of capitalists (whose wokeness is entirely mercantile):
When Nike and Amazon are on your side, you maybe should wonder what side you're on. (I'm not anti-corporations, but I never have the delusion that they have my back.) pic.twitter.com/kHtDQJ1ejt
— Carl (@HistoryBoomer) August 10, 2021
Two tweets from Ginger K.: Still good advice after 103 years:
Flu prevention recommendations from 1918 newspaper 😳😢😭 pic.twitter.com/O79vhkKjke
— Amy G Dala MD (@AmyGDalaMD) August 6, 2021
And is it this cat meowing (its mouth doesn’t open). It even gets rubber duckies!
— Cat's memes (@Catsmemes_usa) August 2, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. You know, of course, that in the Monty Hall problem, if you choose a door, and the host opens another door that he knows does not have a prize behind it, you should always switch the door you chose originally. Nobody believes this, but it’s true.
New solution to Monty Hall, courtesy of an 8 year old:
Me: Do you switch or stay?
She: I switch.
She: I switch to the door he opens.
She: I want a goat. What would I do with a car?
— Nageeb Ali (@SNageebAli) July 25, 2021
A cowboy and a bison walk into a bar. . .
— Earthling (@ziyatong) August 8, 2021
Yes, mantises can give you a bit of a nip when disturbed, but many people are overly afraid of them:
My husband just sent me this awesome video he took with the explanation that yes, the mantis charged him and he got scared and dropped his phone pic.twitter.com/VFQ8iGcSAO
— Morgan Byron (@EntoMorgan) July 26, 2021