Good morning on the start of a new week: Monday, August 16, 2021: National Rum Day. This is of course cultural appreciation, as fermented sugarcane drink is mentioned in early Sanskrit texts, and the beverage appeared in its modern form in the Caribbean in the 18th century. It’s also National Bratwurst Day, Cupcake Day (in Australia), where the proceeds from cupcake sales go to the RSPCA (Kiwis: is this the case?), National Roller Coaster Day, True Love Forever Day, National Airborne Day, and, in Palaua-de-Cerdagne, France, it’s a special holiday celebrating hot chocolate, Xicolatada.
News of the Day:
By the time you read this, Kabul will be almost entirely in the hands of the Taliban, and Americans will be fleeing home. I hope the Afghans who endangered themselves by helping U.S. forces can also get out, but it will be a precipitious exit. And now the inevitable darkness of Islamic theocracy descends on a country of good people.
I just read the updated NYT article. It’s even worse than before: two people have been killed at the airport, there is total chaos, and there’s this note:
Residents of Kabul began tearing down advertisements that showed women without head scarves for fear of upsetting the Taliban, whose ideology excludes women from much of public life.
Here’s Saigon West:
Another Saigon moment: chaotic scenes at Kabul International Airport. No security. None. pic.twitter.com/6BuXqBTHWk
— Saad Mohseni (@saadmohseni) August 15, 2021
A NYT “guest essay” by Frederick Kagan asserts in the title, “Biden could have stopped the Taliban. He chose not to.” How could he have stopped them. By withdrawing troops during the slack season as well as maintaining a more continuous U.S. presence there in regional counterterrorism bases:
As U.S. military planners well know, the Afghan war has a seasonal pattern. The Taliban leadership retreats to bases, largely in Pakistan, every winter and then launches the group’s fighting season campaign in the spring, moving into high gear in the summer after the poppy harvest. At the very least, the United States should have continued to support the Afghans through this period to help them blunt the Taliban’s latest offensive and buy time to plan for a future devoid of American military assistance.
And we should have worried about the “optics”:
Sending additional troops into Afghanistan could have allowed the United States to carry out the withdrawal safely without severely disrupting military support.
No, none of this would have worked, for the Afghan army simply didn’t have a jones to destroy the Taliban. We would have been propping up the regime and the military forever.
Reader Scott sent me a link to an article, adding, “unfortunately, the article is from FOX but is accurately reporting on the nonsense.” What’s the nonsense? It this article:
I don’t quite get it. If you feed your infant via lactation, you are doing so through your breasts, whether you be a cis-woman or a transman. Why change the language? Likewise, what’s wrong with “breast milk”?
Vaccination or termination? As the Washington Post reports, a number of nurses and other staff at Winchester Valley Medical Center in Winchester, Virginia, have quit their jobs rather than obey their employer’s mandate that they get the coronavirus vaccination. Here’s a picture of some of the unemployed chowderheads.
And a quote:
“We are not ‘anti-vax,’ ” said Brittany Watson, a behavioral health nurse at the Winchester hospital, who started a group called the Valley Health Workers Association to rally others opposed to the vaccine mandate. “We’ve done all the vaccines that you get when you grow up — but those have been around for decades. But this one, there’s so much propaganda around it. It doesn’t make any sense.”
I enjoyed this NYT article on woolly mammoth tusks. (The species went extinct about 10,000 years ago, roughly when “civilization” began.) Though the substantive information the article reports is thin, the methodology was fascinating. Mammoth tusks have daily rings, and you can tell what a mammoth was eating by doing isotope analysis of shavings from the tusks. (The mammoth must be found where it actually lived.) What they discovered is that the mammoth, named Kik, ate grass (surprise!), but ate less as it got older, so it may have starved to death, perhaps because of tge unavailability of forage. Kik died at 28, characterized as “middle age for a mammoth”, and appeared to migrate seasonally, though how they deduced that isn’t told.
This is not really funny, and could have been worse, but yet is a new argument against having guns (click on screenshot from the AP site):
A Wisconsin woman accidentally shot a friend while using the laser sight on a handgun to play with a cat, authorities said.
A criminal complaint charging the 19-year-old woman with negligent use of a weapon said she was visiting a Kenosha apartment on Tuesday afternoon where a 21-year-old man had brought a handgun.
The woman, who a witness said had been drinking, picked up the handgun, “turned on the laser sight and was pointing it at the floor to get the cat to chase it,” when the gun went off, the complaint filed Thursday said.
The man, who was standing in a doorway, was shot in the thigh, authorities said. He left and went into another apartment, where police found him after responding to a 911 call, the Kenosha News reported.
Do not try this at home. You could also shoot the cat!
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 621,228, an increase of 662 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,375,870, an increase of about 9,300 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on August 16 includes:
- 1792 – Maximilien de Robespierre presents the petition of the Commune of Paris to the Legislative Assembly, which demanded the formation of a revolutionary tribunal.
- 1858 – U.S. President James Buchanan inaugurates the new transatlantic telegraph cable by exchanging greetings with Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. However, a weak signal forces a shutdown of the service in a few weeks.
- 1896 – Skookum Jim Mason, George Carmack and Dawson Charlie discover gold in a tributary of the Klondike River in Canada, setting off the Klondike Gold Rush.
Here’s a famous picture from the Gold Rush, “Klondikers carrying supplies ascending the Chilkoot Pass, 1898.”
The 50th anniversary stamp, which is a nice one. Postage has increased elevenfold in the U.S. since 1966.
- 1920 – The congress of the Communist Party of Bukhara opens. The congress would call for armed revolution.
- 1927 – The Dole Air Race begins from Oakland, California, to Honolulu, Hawaii, during which six out of the eight participating planes crash or disappear.
Here are the planes waiting to take off. Only two made it to Hawaii; as Wikipedia notes, ” In all, before, during, and after the race, ten lives were lost and six airplanes were lost or damaged beyond repair.”
A diagram of the disasters:
And here it is! (The frog sounds like a duck.)
Here it is, and not a swimsuit in sight:
- 1975 – Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam symbolically hands over land to the Gurindji people after the 8-year Wave Hill walk-off, a landmark event in the history of Indigenous land rights in Australia, commemorated in a 1991 song by Paul Kelly and an annual celebration.
The walk-off (it lasted 7 years) was not just a strike, but a general protest against oppression and confiscation of lands of the indigenous people. Here’s the song, “From Little Things Big Things Grow“:
- 2020 – The enormous August Complex fire in California is reported on this day. It burned more than one million acres of land.
Well, now we have the Dixie Fire, whose name is offensive and should be changed to “Big Fire.”
Notables born on this day include:
- 1815 – John Bosco, Italian priest and educator (d. 1888)
- 1862 – Amos Alonzo Stagg, American baseball player and coach (d. 1965)
Stagg coached for forty years at the University of Chicago (1892-1932), with two undefeated seasons, and our football field used to be named after him. Here he is in 1899:
- 1888 – T. E. Lawrence, British colonel, diplomat, writer and archaeologist (d. 1935)
Here’s Lawrence with his allies, labeled “T.E. Lawrence (right) at Akaba with Damascene Nesib el Bekri (center), who was part of the original band that set forth to capture the strategic port.”
- 1913 – Menachem Begin, Belarusian-Israeli politician, Prime Minister of Israel, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1992)
- 1920 – Charles Bukowski, German-American poet, novelist, and short story writer (d. 1994)’
I think of Bukowski as a low-rent Hunter Thompson, but you have to hand it to him: he loved cats and even wrote a book about them, which I have and like. As for his other writing, I don’t care for it.
- 1929 – Bill Evans, American pianist and composer (d. 1980)
Those whose life drew to an end on August 16 include:
- 1678 – Andrew Marvell, English poet and author (b. 1621)
- 1705 – Jacob Bernoulli, Swiss mathematician and theorist (b. 1654)
- 1938 – Robert Johnson, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1911)
- 1948 – Babe Ruth, American baseball player and coach (b. 1895)
The Bambino was always a natty dresser. Here he is with his daughter, Julia Ruth Stevens
- 1977 – Elvis Presley, American singer, guitarist, and actor (b. 1935)
- 2002 – Abu Nidal, Palestinian terrorist leader (b. 1937)
Nidal, whose real name was Sabri Khalil al-Banna, was involved in all manner of odious terrorist plots. The founder of Fatah, his organizations were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent people. Here’s a rare photo of the man, who either committed suicide or was shot by Saddam Hussein’s minions in 2002.
- 2003 – Idi Amin, Ugandan field marshal and politician, 3rd President of Uganda (b. 1928)
Another bad guy, Amin was a horrible despot and a murderer, responsible for the death of roughly half a million people. He died in Saudi Arabia, where he’d fled. Here’s a brief video about his history:
- 2019 – Peter Fonda, American actor, director, and screenwriter. (b. 1940)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili’s being a watchcat:
A: What are you doing here?Hili: I’m guarding the house.
Ja: Co tu robisz?Hili: Pilnuję domu.
And in nearby Wloclawek, Leon is up to no good. (Malgorzata explains that “Polish words imply that Leon is not just thinking what to do next but what mischief to do next. I had no idea how to say it in English.”)
Leon: What to do?
And here is baby Kulka. Do you think she and Hili share genes?
From Stash Krod, a bad screwup in signage:
From Facebook via reader Lenora:
From Andrzej. The answers were already given!
From Masih. These women won’t be banned only from singing, but going to school and going without head coverings. That will start immediately. It’s all over for the women of Afghanistan—in fact, it’s all over for everyone who doesn’t want to be controlled by a medieval theocracy.
This is heart-breaking. Back in 2019, these beautiful Afghan women from Afghanistan's first and only female-only orchestra were full of hope.
As the Taliban have invaded Afghanistan, women like them will be banned from singing. They'll be confined to their homes. pic.twitter.com/OenYV0DcgE
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) August 15, 2021
The Prez makes an overly optimistic assessment of Afghanistan:
Unfortunately, this was just last month… ! pic.twitter.com/MKzBP2aoS3
— حسن سجواني 🇦🇪 Hassan Sajwani (@HSajwanization) August 15, 2021
From Barry, who was astounded that these creatures even exist (he should see a fennec!). The link takes you to the Wikipedia article on Otocyon megalotis), a denizen of the savannas in eastern and southern Africa.
The bat-eared fox is the only extant species of the genus Otocyon and considered a basal canid species. It is named for its large ears, which have an important role in their thermoregulation [read more: https://t.co/996GKnqDpr] pic.twitter.com/AU7MHAieOl
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) August 14, 2021
From Ginger K. I wonder if people really did go to jail.
People seemed to be smarter then… pic.twitter.com/jkRqpJ8XP3
— More science, less quackery. (@Brasilmagic) August 6, 2021
Is this goat incapacitated, or just weird? I suspect the latter. Translation from the Japanese: “Sometimes I forget to be a goat, probably because of my age.”
— 動物・癒しbot (@animal_iyashl) July 24, 2021
Seen from the Strip. But few must have seen it anyway, as they were all inside gambling (this was 1957):
Nuclear test mushroom cloud spectacle from downtown Las Vegas, 1957. pic.twitter.com/pR4XawuDbt
— Weird History (@weird_hist) August 15, 2021
Matthew’s a bit puzzled by this, since, he says, dogs greet each other by sniffing bums but don’t have a “goodbye” ceremony. But chimps and bonobos live in small groups, and so could reinforce solidarity and harmony by saying goodbye as well as hello.
Bonobos and Chimps Appear to Have ‘Hello’ and ‘Goodbye’ Greetings https://t.co/QHrkhdJq63
— PaleoAnthropology+ (@Qafzeh) August 15, 2021
Man, some kids have weird nightmares. My photo would be of a student on the way to a final exam but unable to find the room.
Photographer Arthur Tress asked children to describe their nightmares. He then immortalized them into photographs. 1960s and '70s. pic.twitter.com/A6BtGRLY1k
— Diane Doniol-Valcroze (@ddoniolvalcroze) August 15, 2021