Greetings on Wednesday, September 15, my last day in Chicago for a week. It’s National Linguine Day (I prefer bucatini, but it doesn’t have its own Day.)
It’s also National Cheese Toast Day, National Double Cheeseburger Day, Butterscotch Cinnamon Pie Day, National Crème de Menthe Day, National Caregivers Day, National Felt Hat Day, World Afro Day, World Lymphoma Awareness Day, International Day of Democracy, and, in the U.S., the beginning of German American Heritage Month, celebrated until October 15, and the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated until October 15. You can celebrate the last two at once by having a michelada made with Löwenbräu.
Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) celebrates the life and work of Ildaura Murillo-Rohde, described by Wikipedia this way:
Ildaura Murillo-Rohde (September 6, 1920 – September 5, 2010) was a Panamanian-American nurse, academic and organizational administrator. . . Murillo-Rohde founded the National Association of Hispanic Nurses in 1975. She was a World Health Organization consultant to the government of Guatemala and was named a Permanent UN Representative to UNICEF for the International Federation of Business and Professional Women. She was named a Living Legend of the American Academy of Nursing in 1994.
News of the Day:
*It looks as if Gavin Newsom handily won the recall election and remains Governor of California. But he’d better remember the issues that brought about the election in the first place. In an interview Monday evening with NBC News, he simply waved them away.
*Speaking of California, in an op-ed in the NYT, Jay Kang takes issue with schools abandoning standardized tests like the SAT, which the University of California did recently (and against the advice of a group of experts the U of C commissioned to study the problem). Kang argues that test elimination has little effect on increasing diversity but reduces transparency of admissions, and recommends as a substitute the community-college transfer route:
State schools that are committed to social justice should make the community college transfer program the first and final word when it comes to diversity, rather than celebrate tiny shifts in minority enrollment while driving down admission rates. Instead of adjusting scores and engaging in the careful engineering that ends with one student being declared more “holistic” than another, they should make the community-college-to-four-year-university-pathway as easy and as normalized as possible. Students would be able to take on less debt, orient themselves in their chosen fields of study and stay in their hometowns.
*Here’s an intriguing headline for an op-ed in the Washington Post: “How Amy Coney Barrett might know she’s a political hack,” written by columnist Jennifer Rubin. This is based on what Coney Barrett said in a talk in Louisville, where she happened to share the stage with Mitch “666” McConnell:
“My goal today is to convince you that this court is not composed of a bunch of partisan hacks,” Barrett said with a straight face. She continued, “Sometimes, I don’t like the results of my decisions. But it’s not my job to decide cases based on the outcome I want.”
If you’ll believe that, you’ll believe anything. Her voting to uphold Texas’s odious anti-abortion law surely was an outcome she wanted, for she’s a pious Catholic. And, after all, the Texas law violates the stare decisis of Roe v. Wade. Here’s why Rubin thinks that Coney Barrett secretly knows that she’s a lying hack:
So are Barrett and Breyer [who also claims that Justices are largely “neutral”] simply lying to us? I would suggest it is something more insidious: They have convinced themselves that their judicial “philosophy” is neutral, rather than a means to turn the court into an instrument of partisan power.
Let’s get real. Conservative justices have been tutored in Federalist Society buzzwords such as “judicial restraint” (except, for example, when rewriting the Voting Rights Act). They have latched onto a brand of jurisprudence in which the only “legitimate” method of interpretation is time-traveling to the 18th century, often neatly bypassing the post-Civil War amendments that federalized rights. That’s how the conservative justices manage to regard themselves as paragons of judicial virtue.
They cannot acknowledge that their reasoning constantly twists and turns, elevating certain rights (e.g., religious freedom, gun ownership) but diminishing others (e.g., those guaranteed by the 14th Amendment). They refuse to concede that their view of executive power expands like an accordion for Republican presidents and contracts for Democratic presidents.
It is precisely because justices lack the discipline and self-awareness to divorce their own judicial “philosophies” from the partisan ends their “side” wants that term limits become a necessity. Judges who no longer feel constrained by precedent and nearly always fulfill the policy edicts of the president who nominated them should not have lifetime tenure. When the highest court is now a forum for raw exercise of political power, a president’s picks should not be empowered to serve for decades.
But would Rubin write the same thing if those statements had been made by the liberal Justices, or if the Court weren’t so damn conservative?
*CNN tells us that Squaw Valley Alpine Meadow Ski Resort, overdue for a renaming, has finally been renamed: it’s now called Palisades Tahoe, which might confuse people with the ski resorts in Lake Tahoe, California. At any rate, I had no idea that “squaw” wasn’t a Native American word:
The word “squaw” was introduced by Lewis and Clark in 1805 and used by early fur traders and trappers, according to the University of Idaho. In today’s social context, Native Americans understand the term to be a slur.
In light of that, it certainly needed a new name. (h/t Simon)
*The trial of Elizabeth Holmes for wire fraud involving her billion-dollar startup company Theranos continues in California. The Wall Street Journal, which broke the case open, has a live feed of the trial, and yesterday two witnesses testified, separately, that the blood-testing device didn’t work, and Theranos knew it, and also that Holmes lied to investors with falsely optimistic estimates of the company’s profits.
You’ll want to see a video of this, of course, and I found one:
*Woke fashion at the Met Gala, one of the glitziest affairs in NYC. Here’s AOC with her dress, which is really gonna change some minds at the Met, where a ticket to the Gala costs $30,000.
And Teen Vogue editor Versha Sharma with her pro-choice clutch (her article is here):
I agree with both of their messages, but there’s a time and place. . .
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 664,231 an increase of 1,888 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,664,368, an increase of about 10,000 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on September 15 includes:
- 1440 – Gilles de Rais, one of the earliest known serial killers, is taken into custody upon an accusation brought against him by Jean de Malestroit, Bishop of Nantes.
de Rais, a French knight, specialized in sexual abuse and subsequent murder of children; his victims possibly numbered in the hundreds. He was hanged in 1440. Here’s an early rendition of his execution:
- 1812 – The Grande Armée under Napoleon reaches the Kremlin in Moscow.
- 1835 – HMS Beagle, with Charles Darwin aboard, reaches the Galápagos Islands. The ship lands at Chatham or San Cristobal, the easternmost of the archipelago.
Sadly, the Beagle was eventually broken up, but some of its timber possibly remains as part of a dock and a farmhouse. Here’s what she looked like during her first three voyages:
Here’s one of those early tanks with the caption, “This Mark I ‘Male’ Tank broke down crossing a British trench on its way to attack Thiepval on 25 September 1916.” They didn’t do a very good job; several were destroyed by artillery fire while others broke down:
Below is the law depriving Jews of citizenship, followed by an earlier 1933 photo of members of the SA (the Nazi’s paramilitary wing) picketing in front of a Jewish store.
The signs read, “Germans! Defend yourselves! Do not buy from Jews!”
- 1959 – Nikita Khrushchev becomes the first Soviet leader to visit the United States.
- 1963 – Baptist Church bombing: Four children killed in the bombing of an African-American church in Birmingham, Alabama, United States.
Here are the four girls killed by a conspiracy of four Klansmen. One of the murderers was convicted in 1977, one died before trial, and the last two were finally convicted in 2001 and 2002. All were given life sentences.
- 1981 – The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approves Sandra Day O’Connor to become the first female justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
- 1981 – The John Bull becomes the oldest operable steam locomotive in the world when the Smithsonian Institution operates it under its own power outside Washington, D.C.
The John Bull was first run on September 15, 1831 and was restored sufficiently to be operated on its 150th birthday (see video below). I want to know where the tracks were, and how they made the train fit modern track.
- 2008 – Lehman Brothers files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1789 – James Fenimore Cooper, American novelist, short story writer, and historian (d. 1851)
Here’s an actual photo of Cooper, taken by Matthew Brady the year before Cooper died:
- 1857 – William Howard Taft, American lawyer, jurist, and politician, 27th President of the United States (d. 1930)
- 1890 – Agatha Christie, English crime novelist, short story writer, and playwright (d. 1976)
- 1894 – Jean Renoir, French actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1979)
I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never seen a film by Renoir, but I promise to fill that gap.
- 1907 – Fay Wray, Canadian-American actress (d. 2004)
The Bride of Kong! (1933):
- 1928 – Cannonball Adderley, American saxophonist and bandleader (d. 1975)
- 1929 – Murray Gell-Mann, American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2019)
- 1945 – Jessye Norman, American soprano (d. 2019)
- 1946 – Oliver Stone, American director, screenwriter, and producer
- 1984 – Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
Those who went belly up on September 15 include:
- 1750 – Charles Theodore Pachelbel, German organist and composer (b. 1690)
- 1938 – Thomas Wolfe, American novelist (b. 1900)
Wolfe, one of my favorite writers (a penchant my literary friends despise) died at ony 37 of tuberculosis that had spread to his brain. Here he is with his huge stacks of manuscripts:
- 1945 – Anton Webern, Austrian composer and conductor (b. 1883)
- 1980 – Bill Evans, American pianist and composer (b. 1929)
- 1985 – Cootie Williams, American trumpet player (b. 1910)
Williams played for many years with Duke Ellington’s band. In fact, Ellington wrote the song below, “Concerto for Cootie” in his honor. It’s performed here by the “Blanton-Webster” version of the Ellington band (the best), with Williams on trumpet:
- 2003 – Garner Ted Armstrong, American evangelist and author (b. 1930)
- 2017 – Harry Dean Stanton, American actor (b. 1926)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is up in the trees again:
Ja: Co tam widzisz?Hili: Dal.
And here’s a lovely photo of Kulka and Szaron sleeping together (as they do) taken by Paulina. Notice that Kulka is licking Szaron:
From Doc Bill:
From Not Another Science Cat page. A cat tank!
And from the same site. Look at that cat’s face!
Titania on AOC’s Met Gala dress (this was sent by Simon and Luana):
Thank you @AOC!! 👏👏✊
The most effective way to tackle economic inequality is through the medium of haute couture.pic.twitter.com/qf4wDKdEJS
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) September 14, 2021
More from Simon:
Oh yeah, then how do you explain THIS?! pic.twitter.com/kCryc9jiTG
— ummm, (@ummmrugby) September 14, 2021
From Barry, who says, “Such a lovely sound. And I do wonder what all the ‘stomping’ is all about. It’s almost surely a “dance” to attract potential mates.” I suppose, though, that it could be for territorial defense.
Not a rabbit. This is a stomping Attwater's prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri).
Sound up! Soothing sounds, some wacky, some like cooing, some like a Navajo flute!
— Char Adams, PhD MPH MA (@_cdadams_) September 13, 2021
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a man who lived but five weeks in the camp:
15 September 1922 | A Polish Jew, Szyja Wajntraub, was born in Radom.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) September 14, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. Sound up on this one, too.
Baby damselfish explode out of corals like blue fireworks pic.twitter.com/ebQcpDdyu7
— Keishu Asada (@CephWarden) September 14, 2021
The decisive moment, and a graceful one:
Cat Jumping, Salford, 1957 – by Neil Libbert pic.twitter.com/zQ8J1xuYrU
— Flashbak.com (@aflashbak) September 14, 2021
This video speaks volumes about the oversupply in China's housing market. 15 tower blocks in Kunming 昆明, the capital of Yunnan province, were demolished last month after sitting unfinished for eight years. https://t.co/UEMEJUqt8b
— Ian Fraser (@Ian_Fraser) September 14, 2021
I hope I’m around to see this:
Got any plans for 2037?
A supernova “replay” is expected to appear in about 16 years, thanks to the magnification and splitting of light caused by the gravity from an enormous galaxy cluster that lies between us and the faraway supernova: https://t.co/a6CoKuUI2j pic.twitter.com/5KRMldZv1W
— Hubble (@NASAHubble) September 13, 2021