Well, the month is almost gone. Good morning on Monday, August 31, 2021: National Trail MIx Day! (My favorite trail mix is a mixture of salted peanuts, M&Ms, and raisins—not exactly the healthiest combination.) It’s also Eat Outside Day, National Matchmaker Day, and National Diatomaceous Earth Day, celebrating the sediment of fossilized algae).
News of the Day:
The fat lady has sung in Afghanistan: the U.S. finished its withdrawal of military and other personnel yesterday, a day early. The Kabul airport is now in the hands of the Taliban, though the NYT estimates that perhaps 100,000 people remain in the country who would be eligible for a U.S. visa. These include Afghans who aided the U.S. military, and Ceiling Cat have mercy on their souls. From the NYT:
More than 2,400 U.S. military personnel and nearly 50,000 Afghan civilians died in the 20-year war, in addition to tens of thousands of casualties among U.S. contractors, the Afghan military and national police, insurgents and others, according to the Costs of War Project at Brown University.
President Biden said in a written statement that he would address the nation on Tuesday to mark the end of the war.
The NYT also has a seven-minute video of Afghan women showing their reaction to the Taliban takeover: “I won’t go 20 years back in time: Young Afghan women speak out.” It features three career women (boxer, musician, and t.v. presenter) who will surely lose their jobs under the Taliban, but still have the courage to speak out publicly.
This site, Sorry antivaxer.com, shows pictures of anti-covid-vaccination people who died of the virus. It could serve to prompt the unvaccinated to get their jabs, along the lines of those gruesome warnings on cigarette packages, but of course antivaxers won’t look at the site. Although some people celebrate these deaths, joking about “survival of the fittest”, I get no joy in celebrating their demise, for these folks, however ignorant, leave behind others who are bereft. (h/t Su)
The Associated Press reports that many birds of prey are endangered worldwide. The problems, of course, include habitat loss and global warming, but also the ingestion of toxic substances. The problem is more severe than I would have imagined:
A new analysis of data from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and BirdLife International found that 30% of 557 raptor species worldwide are considered near threatened, vulnerable or endangered or critically endangered. Eighteen species are critically endangered, including the Philippine eagle, the hooded vulture and the Annobon scops owl, the researchers found.
Other species are in danger of becoming locally extinct in specific regions, meaning they may no longer play critical roles as top predators in those ecosystems, said Gerardo Ceballos, a bird scientist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and co-author of the study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Andean condor, the world’s largest bird, is one of those endangered species. You can see the PNAS paper by Cruz et al. here.
A professor not only quit, but retired in the middle of a class after a student refused to wear a mask and then, when provided with one, refused to wear it properly. As the Red & Black, the University of Georgia student newspaper, reports, psychology professor Irwin Bernstein was mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it any more:
The 88-year-old psychology professor explained to the student that he could die from COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and age-related problems, Bernstein said in an email to The Red & Black.
Only about 15 minutes into the Tuesday lecture, which consisted of Bernstein taking the student attendance, he asked the student to pull her mask up again, but this time, the student did not respond.
Bernstein, who was already informed that two of his absent students tested positive for COVID-19, then announced his resignation on the spot and left the class immediately.
“At that point I said that whereas I had risked my life to defend my country while in the Air Force, I was not willing to risk my life to teach a class with an unmasked student during this Pandemic,” Bernstein said in an email to The Red & Black. “I then resigned my retiree-rehire position.”
An alpha female macaque has emerged as an alpha-primate in a troop at a Japanese nature reserve, the first time that’s been observed in the 70-year recorded history of a troop on the island of Kyushu (h/t Ginger K):
In a rarely seen phenomenon in the simian world, a nine-year-old female known as Yakei has become the boss of a 677-strong troop of Japanese macaque monkeys at a nature reserve on the island of Kyushu in Japan.
Yakei’s path to the top began in April when she beat up her own mother to become the alpha female of the troop at the Takasakiyama natural zoological garden in Oita city. While that would have been the pinnacle for most female monkeys, Yakei decided to throw her 10kg weight around among the males.
In late June, she challenged and roughed up Sanchu, the 31-year-old alpha male who had been leader of “troop B” at the reserve for five years.
Meet the new boss:
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 639,081, an increase of 1,348 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,525,210,, an increase of about 9,000 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on August 31 includes:
In the middle of this edition of Police News is the sensationalized report of Nichols’s murder:
- 1895 – German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin patents his navigable balloon.
- 1897 – Thomas Edison patents the Kinetoscope, the first movie projector.
This established the principle of all film projectors: conveying the illusion of motion by passing a series of still images past the viewers. Here’s one of the earliest Kinetoscope films, “Fred Ott’s Sneeze“. Ott was one of Edison’s assistants who had just taken snuff.
- 1939 – Nazi Germany mounts a false flag attack on the Gleiwitz radio station, creating an excuse to attack Poland the following day, thus starting World War II in Europe.
The Gleiwitz (Gliwice) Tower, a real historical relic, still stands (below). It’s the tallest wooden structure in Europe at 118 m (387 ft).
The ship was named after Leonard Roy Harmon, who got the Navy Cross posthumously for standing between Japanese fire and a wounded shipmate. Here’s a photo and a poster:
- 1962 – Trinidad and Tobago becomes independent.
- 1997 – Diana, Princess of Wales, her companion Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul die in a car crash in Paris.
The Princess with the two Princes:
- 2006 – Edvard Munch‘s famous painting The Scream, stolen on August 22, 2004, is recovered in a raid by Norwegian police.
There were two versions of this painting; both were stolen at different times but both were recovered.
Notables born on this day include:
- AD 12 – Caligula, Roman emperor (d. 41)
The historical records of his perfidy show that he wasn’t nearly as dreadful as people think.
- 1870 – Maria Montessori, Italian physician and educator (d. 1952)
- 1907 – William Shawn, American journalist (d. 1992)
- 1924 – Buddy Hackett, American actor and singer (d. 2003)
Here’s Hackett telling several stories, including a duck joke (the last one) on Johnny Carson’s show:
- 1935 – Eldridge Cleaver, American activist and author (d. 1998)
- 1940 – Robbie Basho, American guitarist, pianist, and composer (d. 1986)
A note on Basho, whom I used to listen to, from Wikipedia: “Basho died unexpectedly at the age of 45 due to an accident during a visit to his chiropractor, where an “intentional whiplash” experiment caused blood vessels in his neck to rupture, leading to a fatal stroke.” Here’s some rare live footage of Basho, who reminds me of John Fahey:
- 1945 – Itzhak Perlman, Israeli-American violinist and conductor
Those who slipped away on August 31 include:
- 1867 – Charles Baudelaire, French poet and critic (b. 1821)
Here’s an intense Baudelaire, photographed in 1863:
- 1963 – Georges Braque, French painter and sculptor (b. 1882)
Here’s Braque with his cat. Why do so many artists have Siamese cats?
- 1969 – Rocky Marciano, American boxer (b. 1923)
- 1973 – John Ford, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1894)
- 1979 – Sally Rand, American actress and dancer (b. 1904)
Rand’s popularity derived largely from her “fan dances,” in which she appeared to be nude, revealing glimpses of her body from behind a large fan made of feathers. In reality, she usually wore a body stocking. Here’s a modest fan dance from the 1934 World’s Fair:
- 1986 – Henry Moore, English sculptor and illustrator (b. 1898)
A famous Moore sculpture, “Nuclear Energy” (1963-1967) sits just a block from my office, placed on the site where the first nuclear chain-reaction took place. It’s supposed to represent both the peaceful and destructive aspects of nuclear energy, but to most people it looks like an atomic bomb. It’s ironic when busloads of Japanese tourists unload in front of the sculpture to be photographed. The building in the background is the Regenstein Library (the main library of the University of Chicago), which is across the street from my building.
- 1997 – Diana, Princess of Wales (b. 1961)
- 2000 – Dolores Moore, American baseball player and educator (b. 1932)
- 2002 – Lionel Hampton, American pianist, composer, and bandleader (b. 1908)
There’s never been a jazz vibe player as good as Hampton. Here he is playing “Flying Home,” a hit for Benny Goodman’s group:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili ponders a nap:
A: What are you doing?Hili: I’m considering different possibilities of lying down.
Ja: Co robisz?Hili: Rozważam inne możliwości leżenia.
From Alex, a real heartwarmer (and tearjerker):
From Cats, Beavers, and Ducks, with the caption, “Look at my bikini! LOOK AT IT!”
From Facebook (I have a feeling I’ve posted this before):
From Masih, retweeted. All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. . .
Unbelievable. He thinks that he can defeat the coronavirus with prayer… It is very sad that Iran, which once had the world's most important philosophers and scientists, is now ruled by a theological despotism! https://t.co/W2mfbz7rrC
— Nusret Polat (@nusret_polat77) August 30, 2021
Today’s tweet from the Auschwitz Memorial offers a free online course; the other “chapters” are in the thread after this one.
‘Holocaust–the destruction of European Jews’
A seven-lessons free online course about the history od the #Holocaust.
(see the thread for links to next chapters) pic.twitter.com/1gW95BWPGz
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) January 7, 2021
The New School has adopted a social-justice mascot with binary pronouns. You can read about Gnarls Narwal here. (The old mascot was a plain old unwoke narwhal.)
New Year, New GNARLS! ✨
Get to know our mascot, Gnarls Narwhal (they/them), a social justice advocate and the first and only sea mammal to earn a BA/BFA dual degree from The New School! They can't wait to see you on campus this fall: https://t.co/ZWt6o2IoCB pic.twitter.com/XRa7iAR1rc
— The New School (@TheNewSchool) August 23, 2021
A tweet from Ginger K. What the hey?
I have been staring at this for five minutes now, and I can feel my eyeballs starting to dry out, and my family begin to forget my name and replace it with an eldritch curse pic.twitter.com/aWjrslw3tC
— James Heathers (@jamesheathers) August 19, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. Nothing changes under the sun. . .
Obviously it has to be Gerard…
In a legal record from the 1250s one clerk doodled at the bottom of his entries alongside the text "my lord's is like this [doodle 1] but Gerard's is like this [doodle 2]"!! (TNA, KB 26/157) https://t.co/91OYpmpPXJ https://t.co/vwQDEALXmp pic.twitter.com/Z2fDia5Zh3
— Euan Roger (@euanroger) August 30, 2021
If you’re in the UK, you can watch this, but otherwise you probably can’t hear this tear-inducing interview with paralympic swimmer Eleanor Robinson.
🗣 “This is a story of triumph, this is NOT a story of defeat!”
— C4 Paralympics (@C4Paralympics) August 30, 2021
I missed this yesterday, but only because Matthew didn’t send me the tweet. You can read more about this remarkable man here. He developed over 40 vaccines, and it’s estimated that his work continues to save 8 million lives per year. (Hilleman worked at Squibb and later at Merck & Co.) Why didn’t he win a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine?
Today in 1919 Maurice Hilleman was born. His twin sister died that day & his mother, 2 days later. He would become the most successful vaccinologist ever, developing vaccines for mumps, Hep A, chickenpox, measles & others. He's saved more lives than any other person in history. pic.twitter.com/XExNcY81Bg
— Dan Snow (@thehistoryguy) August 30, 2021
And an artist who could draw angry cats:
Marguerite Gérard, "La dame avec son chat."
The cat hates us and wants us all dead.
— Undine (@HorribleSanity) August 30, 2021