Good morning on Friday, September 3, 2021: National Baby Back Ribs Day. Now you’re talking (though, truth be told I’d prefer rib tips, which I haven’t had since the pandemic began).
It’s also National Welsh Rarebit Day, National Chianti Day, National Skyscraper Day, and Wear Teal Day, designed to “spark conversations that will help educate others about the symptoms and risk factors of [ovarian] cancer.”
“Dream of the Rarebit Fiend,” an early 20th-century comic strip by Winsor McCay (one of my and Matthew’s favorite cartoonists), tells the story of people whose pre-bedtime consumption of rarebit makes them have weird dreams. Here’s an example (the strip was way ahead of its time), with the rarebit bit highlighted (click to enlarge):
News of the Day:
The Supreme Court finally voted on whether to keep Texas’s restrictive new abortion law alive, and they did so by a vote of 5-4. Reader Ken, who knows his law, gives his take:
The five most conservative justices of SCOTUS issued an unsigned order last night officially refusing to enjoin the Texas abortion statute. The order acknowledges that the parties seeking the injunction “have raised serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law at issue.” The order also stresses that it does “not purport to resolve definitively any jurisdictional or substantive claim in the applicants’ lawsuit.” The order nonetheless declined to issue the injunction on rather recondite procedural grounds.All four of the other justices, starting with Chief Justice Roberts, wrote separate opinions dissenting from the denial of injunctive relief, some of them scathing.You can read the order and the dissenting opinions hereThe signs thus far regarding the continuing vitality of Roe v. Wade are not propitious.
Indeed, new op-ed in the Washington Post, “Supreme Court order on abortion ban show threat to Roe v. Wade”, sees this decision as a bad portent:
Increasingly frustrated liberal justices, routinely outvoted in these emergency cases, sounded off.
Justice Elena Kagan wrote that her colleagues on the other side “barely bother” to explain why “a challenge to an obviously unconstitutional abortion regulation backed by a wholly unprecedented enforcement scheme is unlikely to prevail.”
She added: “The majority’s decision is emblematic of too much of this Court’s shadow-docket decisionmaking — which every day becomes more unreasoned, inconsistent, and impossible to defend.”
Kagan was criticizing the court’s one-paragraph order, which she wrote was reached “after less than 72 hours’ thought.”
From the dissent of liberal justice Sonia Sotomayor:
“The court,” she wrote in her dissent, “has rewarded the state’s effort to delay federal review of a plainly unconstitutional statute, enacted in disregard of the court’s precedents, through procedural entanglements of the state’s own creation.”
We may have Biden in the White House, but remember that that ultimate validity of laws is decided by a very conservative Supreme Court.
At the A.C.L.U., we are not shy about defending civil liberties, even when they are very unpopular. But we see no civil liberties problem with requiring Covid-19 vaccines in most circumstances.
While the permissibility of requiring vaccines for particular diseases depends on several factors, when it comes to Covid-19, all considerations point in the same direction. The disease is highly transmissible, serious and often lethal; the vaccines are safe and effective; and crucially there is no equally effective alternative available to protect public health.
In fact, far from compromising civil liberties, vaccine mandates actually further civil liberties. They protect the most vulnerable among us, including people with disabilities and fragile immune systems, children too young to be vaccinated and communities of color hit hard by the disease.
You do not have a “right” to endanger the lives of others by reckless behavior that violates medical dictates.
The Vinland map was claimed to be a 15th-century mappa mundi with unique information about Norse exploration of North America but is now considered to be a 20th-century forgery. It became well known due to the publicity campaign which accompanied its revelation to the public as a “genuine” pre-Columbian map in 1965. In addition to showing Africa, Asia and Europe, the map depicts a landmass south-west of Greenland in the Atlantic labelled as Vinland (Vinlanda Insula).
. . . The map describes this region as having been visited by Europeans in the 11th century.
Now, however, the Yale News says it’s a fake for several reasons, foremost among them that the ink on the map contains titanium, and could not have been produced before the 1920s. There are many other reasons, too, and if you want a good scientific detective story, read the article.
However, the Wikipedia article, after discussing all the evidence in favor of and against the authenticity of the map, has a section called “Identification as a forgery, 2018.” (They also concentrate, like the Yale News, on the binding and the ink.) The difference is simply that the new study is more thorough, but it still arrives at the same conclusion: the map is a fake, and we have no evidence of an 11th century visit of Europeans to North America.
Here’s the fake; I’ve highligted “Vinland”
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 645,383, an increase of 1,521 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,558,500,, an increase of about 11,900 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on September 3 includes:
- 301 – San Marino, one of the smallest nations in the world and the world’s oldest republic still in existence, is founded by Saint Marinus.
Here’s a map of where this tiny country (61 km2, or 24 sq mi., population of 33,562) sits:
Wikipedia adds that “It is one of only three countries in the world to be completely enclosed by another country”. Can you guess the others? It’s also the third smallest country in Europe, following Monaco and Vatican City, and the fifth smallest in the world
- 1189 – Richard I of England (a.k.a. Richard “the Lionheart”) is crowned at Westminster.
- 1658 – The death of Oliver Cromwell; Richard Cromwell becomes Lord Protector of England.
- 1783 – American Revolutionary War: The war ends with the signing of the Treaty of Paris by the United States and the Kingdom of Great Britain. Here’s the last page of the treaty, signed for the U.S. by John Adams, John Jay, and Benjamin Franklin:
Here’s the great absolitionist and orator, who learned to read and write while enslaved in Baltimore (treatment was more humane there than in the real South); he was taught by the wife of his “owner”:
- 1933 – Yevgeniy Abalakov is the first man to reach the highest point in the Soviet Union, Communism Peak (now called Ismoil Somoni Peak and situated in Tajikistan) (7495 m).
Here’s Communism Peak:
- 1939 – World War II: France, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia declare war on Germany after the invasion of Poland, forming the Allied nations. The Viceroy of India also declares war, but without consulting the provincial legislatures.
- 1941 – The Holocaust: Karl Fritzsch, deputy camp commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp, experiments with the use of Zyklon B in the gassing of Soviet POWs.
Few gas chambers remain; here’s the one at the Majdanek gas chamber (Poland). The blue residue is from the Zyklon B, which is a compound containing hydrogen cyanide. The fate of Fritzsch is unknown, with various stories about what happened to him, including perishing in the Battle of Berlin or suicide after he was reportedly captured later. Note that its use on prisoners of war is itself a war crime.
- 1944 – Holocaust: Diarist Anne Frank and her family are placed on the last transport train from the Westerbork transit camp to the Auschwitz concentration camp, arriving three days later.
- 2016 – The U.S. and China, together responsible for 40% of the world’s carbon emissions, both formally ratify the Paris global climate agreement.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1856 – Louis Sullivan, American architect and educator, designed the Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building (d. 1924)
One of the glories of Chicago architecture, the store is still there, and has this fantastic wrought-iron entrance. Sadly, it’s no longer a department store: the first two floors are leased by Target. . . .
- 1907 – Loren Eiseley, American anthropologist, philosopher, and author (d. 1977)
- 1913 – Alan Ladd, American actor and producer (d. 1964)
Below: my father (right) posing with Alan Ladd in front of the Parthenon in Athens, ca. 1956. Ladd was in Greece to film the movie “Boy on a Dolphin” with Sophia Loren, and my dad helped as a liaison with the U.S. Army, which provided the film with jeeps and fuel.
- 1942 – Al Jardine, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
- 1963 – Malcolm Gladwell, Canadian journalist, essayist, and criticv
Those who ended their earthly careers on September 3 include:
- 1658 – Oliver Cromwell, English general and politician (b. 1599)
- 1962 – E. E. Cummings, American poet and playwright (b. 1894)
I’m surprised that Cummings hasn’t been canceled yet; here are two of his poems reproduced from Wikipedia:
one day a nigger
caught in his hand
a little star no bigger
than not to understand
i’ll never let you go
until you’ve made me white”
so she did and now
stars shine at night.
a kike is the most dangerous
machine as yet invented
by even yankee ingenu
ity(out of a jew a few
dead dollars and some twisted laws)
it comes both prigged and canted
Here’s the miscreant:
- 1970 – Vince Lombardi, American football player and coach (b. 1913)
- 1986 – Beryl Markham, English-Kenyan pilot, horse trainer, and author (b. 1902)
Markham’s book about her flying experiences, West with the Night, is second only to Out of Africa as biographical writing about independent women in British-occupied Kenya. Do read it. Here’s Markham in 1930:
- 1991 – Frank Capra, Italian-American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1897)
- 2001 – Pauline Kael, American film critic and author (b. 1919)
- 2005 – William Rehnquist, American lawyer and jurist, 16th Chief Justice of the United States (b. 1924)
- 2012 – Sun Myung Moon, Korean religious leader and businessman, founded the Unification Church (b. 1920)
- 2017 – Walter Becker, American musician, songwriter, and record producer (b. 1950)
Here’s a video about the making of one of Steely Dan’s most famous songs, “Peg” (1977), featuring Becker, Fagen, and others. What a great studio band they were, though they sucked in live performance!
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili doesn’t want to be in a photo with her nemesis. But she is! (We need DNA testing to see if Kulka’s related to Hili. Dobrzyn is, after all, a very small town.)
Hili: Are you taking a picture of me or of Kulka?A: Both you and Kulka.Hili: You will not succeed.
Hili: Mnie fotografujesz, czy Kulkę?Ja: I ciebie i Kulkę.Hili: To ci się nie uda.
From Bruce, a political cartoon emitted by Robert Reich:
From Thomas, an evolution meme from cartoonist Wiley Miller:
From Larry, a prescient Carl Sagan:
A tweet from Masih, including a nine-minute video interview with a former t.v. presenter. The message is in the tweet’s header; it appears that the new and “nicer” Taliban is a fiction. They won’t let women work.
This brave Afghan woman, Sanam, living in Afghanistan, has broken her silence.
Before the arrival of Taliban, Sanam was a renowned Afghan TV presenter. She now has to hide for her safety.
She has a message for the world:"Taliban hasn't changed. Support Afghan women" pic.twitter.com/0NZYQkEc2N
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) September 2, 2021
Today’s tweet from the Auschwitz Memorial:
3 September 1935 | An Italian Jewish girl, Sissel Vogelmann, was born in Torino.
In January 1944 she was deported to #Auschwitz together with her parents Schulim and Anna. On 6 February she and her mother were murdered in a gas chamber. The father survived. pic.twitter.com/Mw2Nd0wtBQ
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) September 2, 2021
A tweet from Ginger K: What believers think about atheists:
You don't fear hell, you aren't guided by dogma, you don't worship a supernatural being, & you've never felt guilty about sex? pic.twitter.com/fLBCxom1SK
— 🇦🇺 Pink Heretic (@pinkheretic) August 20, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. In the first, Oded makes an academic joke, but, as Matthew says, “The video is better than the joke.” (An “HFSP grant” is a “Human Frontier Science Program grant, and I guess they’re hard to get.) But I love the crow trained to take money from other people and put it in your drawer!
Chances of winning an HFSP grant pic.twitter.com/DPQqteAVAF
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) September 2, 2021
A friendly squirrel:
Ready or not, here I come! pic.twitter.com/MorWWGffkk
— Mia Stålnacke (@AngryTheInch) August 31, 2021
A fun fact that will make you a hit at parties:
Ever wonder why you've never seen an hourglass filled with water?
The rate that water flows depends on the weight of water above. But sand acts a bit like a solid *and* a liquid. No matter how tall the hourglass, sand flows at a constant rate.
Sand is weird stuff. pic.twitter.com/BauIpgVUiC
— Joe 💉=👍 Hanson (@DrJoeHanson) September 2, 2021
And this is indeed cool; have a look at the link:
— Atul Haria 💙 (@atulharia) September 2, 2021
A relaxing morning. Sound up, and don’t miss the mallards at the end!
Coots at dawn pic.twitter.com/bD6mjm8Dty
— Nikon Photographer (@Astrid_Tontson) September 2, 2021
This is a bit unfair to the lad, no? Maybe people had rakes for hands back then. . .
Even through the mists of antiquity, over the unfathomable depth of eight centuries, Onfim's complete lack of artistic talent shines through. https://t.co/yHvuUTr0aI
— Incunabula (@incunabula) September 2, 2021