Good morning on the Cat Sabbath: Saturday, August 14, 2021. It’s National Creamsicle Day, a quiescently frozen confection of vanilla ice cream enrobed in orange sherbet. This is much better than a Popsicle.
It’s also National Garage Sale Day, National Tattoo Removal Day, National Bowling Day, Falklands Day, commemorating the first sighting of the Falkland Islands by John Davis in 1592 (see below), and National Navajo Code Talkers Day, commemorating the use of that group of Native Americans to send cryptic messages during WWII.
Here’s a Navajo veteran giving an example of how the code was used on Iwo Jima:
Wine of the Day: I drank the 2010 version of this wine in February and gave it a super review. As I wrote:
This Côtes du Roussillon Villages in fact tastes like a good Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but at a substantially lower price. And at 11 years old, it is still young. Made by M. Chapoutier, one of the great names of the Rhone, this is an excellent value in younger vintages. Pick up any vintage you can find (only younger ones are available; all are going to be good, and the 2015 gets high marks), and pair it with something that complements a substantial red. Snap it up if you find it around $20. If you have patience, age it for a few years. And then decant it.
The 2013 gets even higher scores: a 97 from Robert Parker, which, for a wine estimated at $30+ per bottle, puts it up there in score with the great Rhones and Bordeaux (the grapes here are closer to those of a Rhone: Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. If all goes well, this should be a superb wine. (I’m writing this before I’ve decanted and opened it; I’m having it with a crusty baguette, aged Gouda cheese, and fresh tomatoes with virgin Italian olive oil. The centerpiece of the dinner will clearly be the wine. Let us try it. . .
. . . .yes, it was fantastic: red, ripe, rich, and round, sort of Rhonelike but full of guts. It improved after half an hour in the decanter. I’d keep this another two or three years, except that this is the only bottle of the 2013 vintage I have. If you can find this wine at a reasonable price, buy it!
News of the Day:
Many sources, including this one at the Guardian, report that last month, July, 2021, was the hottest month recorded on Earth since they’ve been keeping records 142 years ago. How do they determine that? It looks as if they average air and water temperatures over the entire planet. The article reports this:
The global land and ocean surface temperature last month was one degree Celsius, 0.9C (1.6F), hotter than the 20th-century average of 15.8C (60.4F), making it the hottest month since modern record keeping began 142 years ago.
It has beaten the previous record set in July 2016, according to the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa).
“In this case, first place is the worst place to be,” said Rick Spinrad, the administrator of Noaa. “July is typically the world’s warmest month of the year, but July 2021 outdid itself as the hottest July and month ever recorded. This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe.”
Last month’s record heat was driven by soaring temperatures across the world, with Asia experiencing its hottest July on record and Europe, which has been scorched by heatwaves and wildfires in countries including Greece and Italy, recording its second hottest July on record. Europe’s hottest ever recorded temperature was reportedly set in Sicily on Wednesday, where it reached a roasting 48.8C (119.8F).
This, however, won’t make 2021 the hottest year on record, but it will be in the top ten. But don’t forget that the hottest temperature yet recorded on Earth (not yet validated, but likely) is 54.4 °C (129.9 °F) in July 2021 at Furnace Creek, Death Valley, California.
At Quillette, a news site damned by ostrich Leftists who don’t read it comprehensively, there’s a depressing aricle, “Watching America’s Crack-Up“. I think it’s overly pessimistic (an anti-Pinker piece, if you will), but here’s its tenor:
. . . A significant segment of the American Left and Right have both, to a great extent, given up on the republic and its institutions. Something like a low-intensity race war has broken out both on the streets and in rarified cultural and academic institutions. Half the country considers their opponents godless, pagan heathens who are—at times literally—in league with Satan. The other half considers their opponents Nazis who are seeking to rebuild and re-enforce a white-dominated racial hierarchy. Both believe, quite sincerely, that the victory of the other side will mean the triumph of evil and therefore must be prevented at (almost) any cost.
All of this has led me to contemplate a depressing but perhaps inevitable possibility: I don’t see how America gets out of this.
But as NBC ends its evening news broadcast, “There’s GOOD news tonight!” John McWhorter has agreed to write two essays per week for the New York Times, and has announced it on his public Facebook post (below). If you already subscribe, you can sign up to get them here. I think, though that Dr. McWhorter had better realize that his academic work will take a serious hit. Writing two essays a week is serious business!
About time the NYT had a regular anti-woke newsletter! Could it be that this column is to placate subscribers like me who are sick of the site’s wokeness?
The Times also announced that there will be a series of these newsletters for subscribers, including not just McWhorter but Kara Swisher, Peter Coy, and regular op-ed writers like Jamelle Bouie and Frank Bruni. See the list of names here. I think I’ll stick with just McWhorter for a while.
Tony Bennett has hung up his singing shoes: he’s announced that, on doctor’s orders, he’s retiring from public performance—at age 95! It turns out that he’s had Alzheimer’s since a 2016 diagnosis, and yet since then he’s been singing up a storm. What a trouper! It’s not the singing that bothers him, but the traveling that, his family says, tires him out.
The Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia), a fearsome beast that can destroy native bee nests (including honeybees) at alarming rates, has been spotted again in Washington State: a single hornet attacking the nest of paper wasps. But where there’s one, there are surely more, and control may be futile. Read more about these beasts at the beginning of the chapter on natural selection in Why Evolution is True. They raid the nests of other social hymenoptera to steal the grubs (to feed their own voracious larvae) and, sometimes, honey.
Ripped from the headlines! The latest hot news from HuffPost (click on screenshot):
Relatable!!!!! (I have no trouble cracking eggs.) HuffPost would have little to say without stealing people’s Twitter posts.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 620,812, an increase of 651 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,359,707, an increase of about 10,200 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on August 14 includes:
- 1040 – King Duncan I is killed in battle against his first cousin and rival Macbeth. The latter succeeds him as King of Scotland.
- 1592 – The first sighting of the Falkland Islands by John Davis.
- 1880 – Construction of Cologne Cathedral, the most famous landmark in Cologne, Germany, is completed.
It took them 600 years to build this thing, but it turned out fine: it’s Germany’s biggest tourist landmark. Sadly, I’ve never seen it:
- 1893 – France becomes the first country to introduce motor vehicle registration.
This meant “having a license plate”.
- 1935 – Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act, creating a government pension system for the retired.
- 1936 – Rainey Bethea is hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky in the last known public execution in the United States.
Bethea confessed to the rape and murder of a 70-year-old woman, and was hanged at about age 25. A police officer volunteered to hang Bethea, and showed up drunk. As Wikipedia reports:
Hanna placed the noose around Bethea’s neck, adjusted it, and then signaled to Hash to pull the trigger. Instead, Hash, who was drunk, did nothing. Hanna shouted at Hash, “Do it!” and a deputy leaned onto the trigger, which sprang the trap door. Bethea fell 8 feet and his neck was instantly broken. After, two doctors confirmed he was dead. His body was taken to Andrew & Wheatley Funeral Home. He wanted his body to be sent to his sister in South Carolina, but against these wishes, he was buried in a pauper’s grave at the Rosehill Elmwood Cemetery in Owensboro.
Afterwards, Hanna complained that Hash should not have been allowed to perform the execution in his drunken condition. Hanna further said it was the worst display he experienced in the 70 hangings he had supervised.
Here’s a picture of Bethea (he was black) and then an eyewitness talks about the festival atmosphere of the execution, which put a stop to public executions in the U.S.
- 1947 – Pakistan gains Independence from the British Empire.
- 1969 – The Troubles: British troops are deployed in Northern Ireland as political and sectarian violence breaks out, marking the start of the 37-year Operation Banner.
- 1980 – Lech Wałęsa leads strikes at the Gdańsk, Poland shipyards.
Here’s the entrance to the shipyards at Gdansk, where the trouble started, which I photographed in 2017:
- 2015 – The US Embassy in Havana, Cuba re-opens after 54 years of being closed when Cuba–United States relations were broken off.
Now, of course, the American occupants of the embassy are complaining of weird symptoms, including nausea and ringing in the ears. People have suggested that there was some kind of sonic attack by the Cubans, but an article in Vanity Fair suggests this is actually a form of mass hysteria.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1840 – Richard von Krafft-Ebing, German-Austrian psychologist and author (d. 1902)
Expert on deviant sexual behavior and author of Psychopathia Sexualis: eine Klinisch-Forensische Studie (Sexual Psychopathy: A Clinical-Forensic Study):
- 1851 – Doc Holliday, American dentist and gambler (d. 1887)
Here’s the only authenticated photo of Doc Holliday, who trained as a dentist. He was one of the participants in the famous “Gunfight at the OK Corral” in Tombstone, Arizona in 1881 and killed one of the outlaws.
- 1867 – John Galsworthy, English novelist and playwright, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1933)
- 1883 – Ernest Everett Just, American biologist and academic (d. 1941).
One of the first well known black biologists, Wikipedia describes Just’s accomplishments this way:
[Just] was a pioneering African-American biologist, academic and science writer. Just’s primary legacy is his recognition of the fundamental role of the cell surface in the development of organisms. In his work within marine biology, cytology and parthenogenesis, he advocated the study of whole cells under normal conditions, rather than simply breaking them apart in a laboratory setting. Just:
- 1912 – Frank Oppenheimer, American physicist and academic (d. 1985)
- 1928 – Lina Wertmüller, Italian director and screenwriter
- 1941 – David Crosby, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
- 1945 – Steve Martin, American actor, comedian, musician, producer, and screenwriter
- 1945 – Wim Wenders, German director, producer, and screenwriter
One of my favorite films is Wenders’s 1987 “Wings of Desire“, about a pair angels who interact with the inhabitants of Berlin. Here’s a trailer, but it doesn’t convey the surreal nature of the film. Highly recommended (it gets a 98% critics’ review on Rotten Tomatoes.)
- 1950 – Gary Larson, American cartoonist
It’s such a pity that Larson hung up his pen. Here is my absolute favorite of all his cartoons:
- 1959 – Magic Johnson, American basketball player and coach
- 1966 – Halle Berry, American model, actress, and producer
- 1987 – Tim Tebow, American football and baseball player and sportscaster
Tebow was famous for kneeling on the field, but it was in prayer, not in protest (he was devoutly religious). A photo is below. Now, of course, players kneel for different reasons:
Those who ran down the curtain and joined the Choir Invisible on August 14 include:
- 1956 – Bertolt Brecht, German poet, playwright, and director (b. 1898)
- 1958 – Frédéric Joliot-Curie, French physicist and chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1900)
Joliot-Curie was the son-in-law of Pierre and Marie Curie; Frédérick and his wife Irene (Pierre and Marie Curie’s daughter) shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935 for discovering artificial radioactivity. Is there any other case of four members of one family winning Nobel Prizes? Here is the pair in 1940:
- 1988 – Roy Buchanan, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1939)
- 2004 – Czesław Miłosz, Polish-born American novelist, essayist, and poet, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1911)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili, sitting in a basket on the porch, has thrown in the towel:
Hili: I give up.A: Why?Hili: Because nothing is as it should be.
Hili: Poddaję się.Ja: Dlaczego?Hili: Nic nie jest tak, jak powinno.
And here is Szaron looking peevish:
From Stash Krod. A mighty duck!
From Bad Cat Clothing:
Art humor from Mark:
A tweet sent by Luana. This one’s pretty funny because it assumes that many people are absolute morons, when it’s not about biology but language:
Doesn’t this imply that some lesbians having sex with other lesbians with a penis don’t know they can get pregnant because of this common “myth”?
Should we start a public health campaign to enlighten them? So important. https://t.co/DCoj1jrCom
— Jewel Eldora (@JewelEldora) August 12, 2021
Two tweets from Ginger K. I love time-lapse photos:
The 4 seasons in the same place.
— Nature is Amazing 🏝 (@WeIcomeToNature) July 26, 2021
1.5 minutes of clumsy and malicious kitties. Sound up. The first one is a real klutz!
Wie wil een kat. pic.twitter.com/yElrzspdUX
— Marcel Vervaeck (@MarcelVervaeck) June 27, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. Is this newborn Amur leopard adorable or what? It is perhaps the most critically endangered subspecies of cat on Earth, with 19-28 individuals estimated to exist in the wild. Will zoos be the only place they will survive?
The Santa Barbara Zoo has an exciting announcement! At 4:05 AM on August 6th, Ajax the Amur leopard gave birth to a 1.1 pound baby girl. Given the name Marta by her Premier Foster Feeder sponsors, she is the first Amur leopard cub born at the Zoo in 20 years. pic.twitter.com/gIuAkCZFul
— Santa Barbara Zoo (@SantaBarbaraZoo) August 11, 2021
Covid incidence in France. Why is it higher in the south? Tourism?
That's quite a map https://t.co/k4ZabtnEiM
— John Burn-Murdoch (@jburnmurdoch) August 13, 2021
Matthew explained to me that this paper shows that the admixture between Denisovans and modern H. sapiens appears to have happened on the Philippines, which implies that Denisovans had boats to get there.
I am glad that our follow-up paper on Philippine demographic history (https://t.co/llwgZoAiAY) is now available online: Philippine Ayta possess the highest level of Denisovan ancestry in the world (1/9) https://t.co/OAr40IQnGa pic.twitter.com/gZqXyekClX
— Maximilian Larena (@maxlarena) August 12, 2021
This 13-tweet thread at first looks incredibly intriguing, but then winds up being trivial but funny at the same time. I’ll show the first tweet:
I'm 2.5 years into my PhD but today I made one of the most important discoveries of my PhD!
What did I discover? Well… a 🧵1/13
— Kat Ross (@astro_katross) August 12, 2021
I think this movie, which I’ve seen, won the Oscar for best documentary. It’s a fantastic movie about the greatest free climber ever, and I think you should watch it (unless you have vertigo):
Highly recommended if utterly terrifying: the film of Alex Honnold’s free solo (= no ropes) climb of the sheer El Capitan peak in Yosemite. Trailer here: https://t.co/K8pXGeZDRo
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) August 12, 2021
Here’s the trailer: