Greetings on a humpish Wednesday, September 8, 2021: Date-Nut Bread Day (I believe the hyphen is superfluous).
It’s also National Ampersand (&) Day, in which you’re supposed to use the & symbol as much as possible, Virgin Mary Day, Star Trek Day (the series debuted on Sept. 8, 1966), World Physical Therapy Day, & International Literacy Day.
Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) goes to a YouTube video about a Swedish musician and humanitarian known as Avicii. Though I don’t know of Tim Bergling, he’s probably well known, so excuse my ignorance. I read on Wikipedia that he died by suicide at age 28, and he was born on this day in 1989.
Today’s video Doodle celebrates the 32nd birthday of Swedish superstar DJ, producer, songwriter and humanitarian Tim Bergling—known best by his stage name Avicii. Whether blaring from speakers of a music festival mainstage or into the headphones of millions of listeners worldwide, Avicii helped elevate electronic music to mainstream global success.
News of the Day:
Yesterday the Taliban let its mask slip big time, giving the lie that they were reforming. They formed an all-male government of The Usual Suspect hard-liners. As the Associated Press reports:
The Taliban on Tuesday announced an all-male interim government for Afghanistan stacked with veterans of their hard-line rule from the 1990s and the 20-year battle against the U.S.-led coalition, a move that seems unlikely to win the international support the new leaders desperately need to avoid an economic meltdown.
Appointed to the key post of interior minister was Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is on the FBI’s most-wanted list with a $5 million bounty on his head and is believed to still be holding at least one American hostage. He headed the feared Haqqani network that is blamed for many deadly attacks and kidnappings.
The announcement came hours after Taliban fired their guns into the air to disperse protesters in the capital of Kabul and arrested several journalists, the second time in less than a week that heavy-handed tactics were used to break up a demonstration.
In the meantime, NBC News reported last night that the planes with Americans and Afghan “helpers” are still sitting on the tarmac at Hamid Karzai International Airport. According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. is negotiating with the Taliban, but the hitch is that the people trying to leave are heterogeneous:
Mr. Blinken said the latest indications from the Taliban are that they would allow American citizens or others to leave on charter flights if they all have proper documents, but flights with mixed groups with and without proper identification won’t be allowed to depart. “Because all of these people are grouped together, that’s meant that flights have not been allowed to go,” Mr. Blinken told reporters.
My prediction: the Taliban will make “demands” of the U.S. and other countries to release those trying to leave, because, right now, Afghanistan and its hard-line new theocratic government, with a criminal interior minister, doesn’t look so good.
Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously yesterday to decriminalize abortion, previously a crime in most of the country. Prior to yesterday, only three of Mexico’s 32 states had legal abortions. This decision, coming at a time when the U.S. is going in the opposite direction, presages a more progressive legalization of abortion in all states of our southern neighbor.
Belarus, a dysfunctional autocracy if ever there was one, has given two dissidents long prison sentences. The brave Maria Kalesnikava, a 39 year old musician, was sentenced to 11 years in jail for “conspiring to seize power, creating an extremist group, and calling for actions that could damage national security.” She was in custody for 11 months, and got the maximum sentence, all for criticizing the regime. (She also tore up her passport so they couldn’t depart her, as they did with some other dissidents. Her fellow activist Maxim Znak drew ten years in a high security prison.
A bit of biology from the “Trilobites” section of the NYT, which covers science. Author Richard Sima describes new experiments showing that the dung crab spider of SE Asia (Phrynarachne ceylonica) not only avoids predators by looking like bird droppings (bird predators don’t want to eat poop!) but also attracts insects drawn to bird droppings, which become the spider’s lunch. Here’s a photo of the spider with caption from the New York Times: (h/t: Jean)
Today, with Ceiling Cat willing & if the creeks don’t rise, Derek Jeter, shortstop & captain of the New York Yankees, will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, along with “the former outfielder Larry Walker; the former catcher Ted Simmons; & the union chief, Marvin Miller, who died in 2012.” Of all players I’ve seen in the last several decades, Jeter most impressed me with his combination of fielding & hitting. He played his entire 20-year career with the Yankees, & accrued these stats given in Wikipedia (besides a lifetime batting average of .310):
He is the Yankees’ all-time career leader in hits (3,465), doubles (544), games played (2,747), stolen bases (358), times on base (4,716), plate appearances (12,602) and at bats (11,195). His accolades include 14 All-Star selections, five Gold Glove Awards, five Silver Slugger Awards, two Hank Aaron Awards, and a Roberto Clemente Award. Jeter was the 28th player to reach 3,000 hits and finished his career ranked sixth in MLB history in career hits and first among shortstops. In 2017, the Yankees retired his uniform number 2.
Shortstop is, to me, the most athletic of all positions, requiring speed, accuracy, good reflexes, a great arm, & savvy. Here: have a look at some of Jeter’s defensive plays. Some of them are unbelievable:
Meanwhile, every HuffPost “personal” article has the patronizing caption “Here’s what I want you to know” or similar phrases. This is becoming common in the respectable press as well. What chowderhead came up with that hook?:
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 650,998, an increase of 1,497 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,601,131, an increase of about 10,900 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on September 8 includes:
It took Michelangelo three years to complete the sculpture, often regarded as the world’s finest carved art. It stood outside the town hall until 1803, when it was moved inside to the Galleria dell’Accademia. There’s a replica in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum that has a detachable fig leaf to go over the genitals, supposedly made when Queen Victoria was shocked at David’s nudity and attached to the statue when the Queen visited.
- 1727 – A barn fire during a puppet show in the village of Burwell in Cambridgeshire, England kills 78 people, many of whom are children.
The doors had been nailed shut to prevent people from getting in.
- 1883 – The Northern Pacific Railway (reporting mark NP) was completed in a ceremony at Gold Creek, Montana. Former president Ulysses S. Grant drove in the final “golden spike” in an event attended by rail & political luminaries.
- 1892 – The Pledge of Allegiance is first recited.
This was adopted by Congress in 1942, given the name “The Pledge of Allegiance” in 1945, & then, on a dark day in 1954, with Americans fearful of Godless Communism, the words “under God” were added. This remains unconstitutional.
- 1914 – World War I: Private Thomas Highgate becomes the first British soldier to be executed for desertion during the war.
Highgate was the first soldier executed for desertion during the war, was shot two days after he was convicted (he offered no defense). He was one of 306 executed British soldiers pardoned in 1966. here’s a low-quality photo:
I think the name has to be changed as it’s a slur on the Scots, for it originated when an employee complained that the stingy “Scotch” bosses weren’t putting enough adhesive on the tape. Here’s an early form of packaging:
- 1935 – US Senator from Louisiana Huey Long is fatally shot in the Louisiana State Capitol building.
- 1941 – World War II: German forces begin the Siege of Leningrad.
The siege ended on January 27, 1944, lasting 872 days & leading to the deaths of around 800,000 civilians & 700,000 soldiers from battle or starvation. Here’s a poignant note about the siege from Wikipedia: a photo with a caption.
The diary of Tanya Savicheva, a girl of 11, her notes about starvation & deaths of her sister, then grandmother, then brother, then uncle, then another uncle, then mother. The last three notes say “Savichevs died”, “Everyone died” & “Only Tanya is left.” She died in hospital of progressive dystrophy shortly after the siege. Her diary was used by the prosecution at the Nuremberg trials.
One more note to appreciate the privations suffered by the inhabitants:
Civilians in the city suffered from extreme starvation, especially in the winter of 1941–42. From November 1941 to February 1942 the only food available to the citizen was 125 grams of bread per day, of which 50–60% consisted of sawdust and other inedible admixtures. In conditions of extreme temperatures (down to −30 °C (−22 °F)), and with city transport out of service, even a distance of a few kilometres to a food distribution kiosk created an insurmountable obstacle for many citizens. Deaths peaked in January–February 1942 at 100,000 per month, mostly from starvation. People often died on the streets, and citizens soon became accustomed to the sight of death.
- 1945 – The division of Korea begins when United States troops arrive to partition the southern part of Korea in response to Soviet troops occupying the northern part of the peninsula a month earlier.
- 1966 – The landmark American science fiction television series Star Trek premieres with its first-aired episode, “The Man Trap“.
Here’s the two-minute opening of the first episode:
- 1974 – Watergate scandal: US President Gerald Ford signs the pardon of Richard Nixon for any crimes Nixon may have committed while in office.
Here’s Ford’s announcement on television of his pardon of Nixon:
Notables born on this day include:
- 1830 – Frédéric Mistral, French poet & lexicographer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1914)
- 1886 – Siegfried Sassoon, English captain, journalist, & poet (d. 1967)
- 1897 – Jimmie Rodgers, American singer-songwriter & guitarist (d. 1933)
Rodgers, the “singing brakeman”, is regarded as one of the founders of modern country music. Famous for his yodeling (as in “Blue Yodel” below), he died at 35 of tuberculosis.
- 1922 – Sid Caesar, American comic actor & writer (d. 2014)
Caesar was a great comedian. Here he is with his sidekick Imogene Coca, going to his first health food restaurant:
- 1925 – Peter Sellers, English actor & comedian (d. 1980)
- 1932 – Patsy Cline, American singer-songwriter & pianist (d. 1963)
- 1941 – Bernie S&ers, American politician
- 1954 – Michael Shermer, American historian, author, & academic, founded The Skeptics Society
- &American singer-songwriter, producer, & actress
Those who hied themselves underground on September 8 include:
Carl Weiss was the doctor who shot Louisiana Senator (previously governor) Huey Long, & was immediately riddled with bullets by Long’s bodyguards. The motive: Long gerrymandered the district of Weiss’s father-in-law, a judge, out of existence. Here’s Weiss:
- 1949 – Richard Strauss, German composer & manager (b. 1864)
Strauss wrote one of my favorite songs, “Beim Schlafengehen” (“Upon falling asleep”), a song about death & one of his “Vier Letzte Lieder” (“Four Last Songs”), written at the end of Strauss’s life & first performed only after his death. I’d like this played either when I’m dying or after I’m dead (remember that). I think this version, by Jessye Norman, is the best, with that tremendous high note from 3:01 to 3:13 that shakes your bones.
- 1980 – Willard Libby, American chemist & academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1908)
Libby (below) won the prize for devising the extremely useful method of radiocarbon dating, a technique still in wide use:
- 1981 – Roy Wilkins, American journalist & activist (b. 1901)
- 2003 – Leni Riefenstahl, German actress, director, producer, & screenwriter (b. 1902)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is upset as there’s a sign of winter approaching:
Hili: All this looks bad.A: I don’t understand.Hili: Winter apples are getting ripe.
Hili: To wszystko źle wygląda?Ja: Nie rozumiem.Hili: Zimowe jabłka zaczynają dojrzewać.
And Kulka on the prowl. You can see Andrzej’s shadow photographing him:
A meme from Nicole:
From Stash Krod:
From Facebook. I have another version of this cartoon on my lab wall:
Two tweets from Masih, who keeps us up to date on the plight of women in Afghanistan (women send her their videos):
"Taliban wants to starve people of Panjshir to death"
These are the heroic women of Afghanistan that Taliban wants to silence, but they refuse to give up their fight. They're with the resistance
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) September 7, 2021
Protesting women are now becoming Taliban's worst nightmare. Taliban has locked these women inside a bank building to prevent them from going out and protesting again. Afghan women have no intention of giving up their fight. Will the world hear them? pic.twitter.com/VRhcNCV5FB
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) September 7, 2021
From the Auschwitz memorial:
8 September 1932 | A Czech Jewish girl, Edita Weiszová, was born in Prague (in the pic at the age of 2)
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) September 8, 2021
From Barry; this tweet has gone viral with people calling the rat-eating heron a “hero.” I know nature can be cruel, and we should accept this, but it still bothers me:
It took the Great Blue Heron only a few seconds to lift the rat, once killed, out of the water and swallow it—this morning at the Central Park Pond. pic.twitter.com/E4Vx0ya8od
— Manhattan Bird Alert (@BirdCentralPark) September 5, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. Enlarge the photos:
— Jess Phoenix 🌋 (@jessphoenix2018) September 7, 2021
Really? They’re going to raze Britain’s oldest synagogue to build high-rises? As the BBC link says, “Bevis Marks was built in 1701 and was the first synagogue to be created after Jews were allowed back into England by Oliver Cromwell, following their banishment by Edward I in 1290.”
Unconscionable. @bevismarksuk is Britain’s oldest synagogue, one of the City’s most historically significant buildings, & quite as deserving of protection from the greed of developers as St Paul’s.
Bizarre this should even be contemplated… https://t.co/17IiKJWlst
— Tom Holland (@holland_tom) September 5, 2021
I retweeted a tweet Matthew sent me; go look at the thread.
The thread explains all. The author also says that Western books as we known them depend on Jesus, snails, underwear, and spectacles. https://t.co/qeHHjeggW6
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) September 6, 2021
This tweet shows that cats are 85% fluff:
📽 : the.crystal.creatures pic.twitter.com/dQm2SE8zFi
— Bulu Bulu Kehidupan 🇲🇾 (@ulat_bulu_bulu) September 5, 2021