It was a hot one in Chicago yesterday, with a high of 95°F (35°C ), which felt like 103°F (39.4°C) with the humidity. It was brutal
News of the Day:
Things are really heating up in Kabul. The Taliban has now made clear that they will not countenance extending Biden’s August 31 deadline for the complete egress of American troops, and added that, as of now, no more Afghans will be allowed to leave. This puts Biden in a huge bind, as he said he’d keep his pledge to get not only every American out, but also those Afghans who aided the American military. He won’t be able to keep this promise, and the “optics” on this one re very bad. Fearing attacks by the Taliban, and despite pressure from our allies to extend the deadline, Biden says he’ll stick to the August 31 date, but that means he’ll break his pledge. Is there more fighting in the offing?
Nancy Pelosi got her way: the House, by a vote of 220-212, passed Biden’s $3.5 billion budget bill yesterday. This paves the way for passage of his $1 trillion infrastructure bill, and prevented an embarrassing holdup in enacting Biden’s program. Whether these bills can get past the Senate, which could call up a filibuster, is another issue, but once again the Dems hope to avoid a filibuster by the arcane process of “reconciliation,” which is above my pay grade. The Dems say taxes on the rich will raise the necessary dosh for both bills, but I wouldn’t count on that.
Another slap at Biden came, this time from the U.S. Supreme Court. It ruled yesterday that Trump’s “remain in Mexico” immigration policy, which mandated that applicants for asylum in the U.S. must remain in Mexico while awaiting their hearings, must be resumed despite Biden’s determination to dump that policy and allow people in. The vote, of course, was 6-3, with the three liberal justices dissenting. Reuters notes that immigrants arrests of immigrants crossing the border from Mexico illegally “have reached 20-year highs in recent months.”
— #RingoStarr (@ringostarrmusic) August 24, 2021
Watts had been with the Stones for fifty seven years.
Over at the UnHerd site, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has a poignant lament for the fate of Afghan women, “Biden’t most heartless betrayal.”
Do you seriously expect anyone to believe that American diplomacy will make the Taliban treat women fairly? Is “rallying the world” remotely likely to keep Afghan girls in schools, or allow women to walk down the streets of Kabul with their faces uncovered? Do you take us all for fools?
. . .In today’s perverse American culture, however, more attention is devoted to the use of preferred gender pronouns than to the plight of women whose most basic rights — to education, personal autonomy, the right to be present in a public space — are either removed or under serious threat.
What we’ve witnessed this week in Afghanistan is a watershed moment in Western decline. American culture today tells us not to be proud of our country; not to believe in the superiority of American values; not to promote the rights we are afforded by our Constitution so that they can be enjoyed by people around the world.
A NYT article asks “Is coffee good for you?” In general yes, but it depends on whether you’re pregnant, on how the coffee is roasted and prepared, and, of course, on further research. Right now, java seems to be akin to a medicine:
In moderation, coffee seems to be good for most people — that’s 3 to 5 cups daily, or up to 400 milligrams of caffeine.
“The evidence is pretty consistent that coffee is associated with a lower risk of mortality,” said Erikka Loftfield, a research fellow at the National Cancer Institute who has studied the beverage.
But before you start swilling the joe, read the rest of the piece.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 631,050, an increase of 1,116 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,466.733, an increase of about 11,500 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on August 25 includes:
- 1270 – Philip III, although suffering from dysentery, becomes King of France following the death of his father Louis IX, during the Eighth Crusade. His uncle, Charles I of Naples, is forced to begin peace negotiations with Muhammad I al-Mustansir, Hafsid Sultan of Tunis.
- 1814 – War of 1812: On the second day of the Burning of Washington, British troops torch the Library of Congress, United States Treasury, Department of War, and other public buildings.
- 1823 – American fur trapper Hugh Glass is mauled by a grizzly bear while on an expedition in South Dakota.
Here’s a sculpture of the attack at the Grand River Museum in Lemmon, South Dakota
This story, highly fictionalized, is the basis for the recent film “The Revenant.” But the true story (here from Wikipedia) is fantastic enough:
Despite his injuries Glass regained consciousness, but found himself abandoned without weapons or equipment. He had festering wounds, a broken leg, and deep cuts on his back that exposed his bare ribs. Glass lay mutilated and alone, more than 200 miles (320 km) from the nearest American settlement at Fort Kiowa, on the Missouri River. Glass set the bone of his own leg, wrapped himself in the bear hide his companions had placed over him as a shroud, and began crawling back to Fort Kiowa. To prevent gangrene, Glass allowed maggots to eat the dead infected flesh in his wounds.
Using Thunder Butte as a navigational landmark, Glass crawled overland south toward the Cheyenne River where he fashioned a crude raft and floated downstream to Fort Kiowa. The journey took him six weeks. He survived mostly on wild berries and roots.
This story attributed all manner of bizarre creatures on the Moon to the observations of astronomer Sir William Herschel. But the six stories were of course complete fiction. Here’s some of what they described:
The articles described animals on the Moon, including bison, goats, unicorns, bipedal tail-less beavers and bat-like winged humanoids (“Vespertilio-homo“) who built temples. There were trees, oceans and beaches. These discoveries were supposedly made with “an immense telescope of an entirely new principle”.
No paper would ever publish stuff like this today. (Well, maybe the Onion). And a drawing of these creatures from the paper
- 1875 – Captain Matthew Webb becomes the first person to swim across the English Channel, traveling from Dover, England, to Calais, France, in 21 hours and 45 minutes.
As Wikipedia adds: “[Webb] died trying to swim the Whirlpool Rapids below Niagara Falls, a feat declared impossible. Here’s a headline about his Channel swim:
Our friend Matthew wrote a very good book about the liberation; click on the screenshot to see the Amazon site:
- 1967 – George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party, is assassinated by a former member of his group.
- 2017 – Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in Texas as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the United States since 2004. Over the next few days, the storm causes catastrophic flooding throughout much of eastern Texas, killing 106 people and causing $125 billion in damage.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1530 – Ivan the Terrible, Russian ruler (d. 1584)
- 1540 – Lady Catherine Grey, English noblewoman (d. 1568)
- 1836 – Bret Harte, American short story writer and poet (d. 1902)
- 1900 – Hans Adolf Krebs, German physician and biochemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1981)
Krebs’s paper describing one of his Nobel-garner achievements, the discovery of the biochemistry of cellular respiration (the “Krebs Cycle”), was initially rejected by Nature. Here he is with his wife in 1953 in Stockholm to pick up his Nobel:
- 1918 – Leonard Bernstein, American pianist, composer, and conductor (d. 1990)
- 1919 – George Wallace, American sergeant, lawyer, and politician, 45th Governor of Alabama (d. 1998)
Here’s the old segregationist himself, unsuccessfully trying to prevent the enrollment of black students at the University of Alabama.
- 1921 – Monty Hall, Canadian-American television personality and game show host (d. 2017)
- 1930 – Sean Connery, Scottish actor and producer (d. 2020)
Did you know that Connery won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor? Here’s the movie that did it for him, “The Untouchables”. “The Chicago Way”!
- 1949 – Gene Simmons, Israeli-American singer-songwriter, producer, and actor
- 1954 – Elvis Costello, English singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer
Those who were bereft of life on August 25 include:
- 1776 – David Hume, Scottish economist, historian, and philosopher (b. 1711)
- 1819 – James Watt, Scottish-English engineer and instrument maker (b. 1736)
- 1900 – Friedrich Nietzsche, German philologist, philosopher, and critic (b. 1844)
- 1956 – Alfred Kinsey, American biologist and academic (b. 1894)
It’s not well known that Kinsey started his academic career as an entomologist, studying with William Morton Wheeler and Harvard and getting his Ph.D. for work on gall wasps. Then he became a pervert, as you can see from the photo below.
- 1984 – Truman Capote, American novelist, playwright, and screenwriter (b. 1924)
His most famous popular work is In Cold Blood, but I’m partial to his short story A Christmas Memory, which you can’t read online. The beautiful and sad ending always makes me tear up. Here’s Capote reading his work:
- 2009 – Ted Kennedy, American politician (b. 1932)
- 2012 – Neil Armstrong, American pilot, engineer, and astronaut (b. 1930)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili produces a bon mot:
A: What are you thinking about?Hili: About where to lead my shadow.
Ja: Nad czym myślisz?Hili: Gdzie zaprowadzić mój cień.
From Stash Krod. This sign looks real, but I wonder if it is. The “YouTube” bit makes me think it’s a fake:
From reader Pliny the In Between’s Far Corner Cafe (enlarge please):
From Science Humor: Again, I wonder if this really happened.
Masih has been posting tweets of horrific videos of prisoner mistreatment inside Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison, where many have died or been tortured. It houses mostly political prisoners. Apparently opponents of the Iranian regime have hacked into the prison’s video system and released what they found. Iranian officials acknowledge that these videos are indeed real, and from Evin.
Another leaked video of Iranian prison.They savagely beating a male prisoner.
families whose children were beaten to death in Evrim prison refuse to accept officials' apologies. They blame the entire regime that has terrorised Iran for than 40 years pic.twitter.com/WBhjzizKpJ
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) August 24, 2021
Today’s tweet from the Auschwitz Memorial:
25 August 1923 | A German Jewish woman, Bertha Katz, was born in Schlitz.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) August 25, 2021
And from Titania:
As a radical activist who hates the status quo, I’ll continue to fight bravely against the establishment.
But it’s so hard when the only ones on my side are big tech, academia, the mainstream media, the entertainment industry, the US government and the Duke & Duchess of Sussex.
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) August 23, 2021
Speaking of Titania, a reader tells me that this individual may be a “persona whelped by Titania”. Well, I don’t know but Dame Katie is on about transsexual animals:
Did you know that misgendering kills more elephants than ivory poachers? The media don’t want you to know this. Barbra’s pronouns are she/her, she’s been living as a womxn since Tuesday & would like you to validate her lived experience & not fetishise her 2nd trunk. #TransAnimals pic.twitter.com/odJ9QNxiuZ
— Dr Dame Katie Denise Alexis Colby 🏳️⚧️⚧🧜🏻♀️ (@_Katie_Denise) August 21, 2021
A tweet sent by Ginger K.
— #pluckypersister (@susandtom) August 21, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. First, proof that monkeys are smarter than many Americans:
Monkey see, monkey do. 😏😜🐵 pic.twitter.com/FLgOCV5leK
— Fred Schultz (@fred035schultz) August 24, 2021
This is indeed a proper gaggle!
— BBC Springwatch (@BBCSpringwatch) August 24, 2021
This famous painting by Vermeer has been restored, revealing a rather ugly picture of Cupid on the wall. It was thought that Vermeer himself painted over the painting, but dating of the paint showed that it was covered up much later, and not by Vermeer. No, Johannes intended that picture to be part of the painting. Frankly, I like the original painting in restoration, but NOT with the damn Cupid!
Ahhh, the restoration of Vermeer's Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window is complete (via Art Newspaper). What a huge difference! Wow! pic.twitter.com/RsEwpFtR3Z
— Peter Huestis (@RealSparklePony) August 24, 2021