Good morning on Cat Sabbath: Saturday, September 25, 2021. I’m back in Chicago and posting should be back to normal in a day or so. In the meantime, it’s National Quesadilla Day.
It’s also National Research Administrator Day, National Lobster Day, Fish Amnesty Day, International Rabbit Day, Museum Day, National Cooking Day, World Pharmacist Day, and National Wildlife Ecology Day.
Today’s Google Doodle honors the life and work of Christopher “Superman” Reeve (1952-2004). He broke his neck in a horse-riding accident in 1995 and lived nine years paralyzed from the neck down and breathing with a ventilator, but also became a disability activist and embryonic stem-cell research while continuing his creative work. Click on the screenshot to go to link about his life:
News of the Day:
*The oldest evidence of Homo sapiens in America has been found in New Mexico: human footprints that date between 23,000 and 21,000 years ago. Up to now, the date that we teachers have felt confident in giving our students is arrival across the Bering Strait about 15,000 years ago, so this considerably extends the time humans have trod the Americas.
The dating was precise because there was sedimentary rock both directly above and below the footprints (only sedimentary rock can be dated). They used radiocarbon dating, which is quite accurate but can’t be used in rocks over 50,000 years old. “Based on their sizes, scientists think the tracks were made mainly by teenagers and younger children travelling back and forth – along with the occasional adult.” Scientists speculate further:
The scientists don’t know for sure what the teenagers were doing, but it is possible they were helping the adults with a type of hunting custom seen in later Native American cultures. This was known as the buffalo jump and involved driving animals over a shallow cliff edge.
The animals “all had to be processed in a short period of time,” explained Dr Sally Reynolds, co-author from Bournemouth University. “You’d have to start fires, you’d have to start rendering the fat.” The teenagers could have been helping out by collecting firewood, water or other essentials.
A photo of the prints, which are remarkably well preserved. We clearly didn’t evolve a change in toe number over 23 millennia!
*I got this email from reader Ken this morning:
The clownish pro-Trump “Cyber Ninjas” — the group that’s been conducting the election audit (aka the “fraudit”) of the Arizona presidential election results since last April — is scheduled to release their results at 4 pm Eastern today.According to a leaked report, their results show that, of the over 2 million ballots cast in Maricopa County, AZ, in 2020, Donald Trump actually received 261 votes fewer, and Joe Biden 99 votes more, than was initially reported.
The NYT has copies of the three-volume (!) draft report, and the tally above appears to be correct. Biden won with a slightly wider margin than reported. Maricopa County’s heavy vote for Biden is a major reason why he won the state. (Just remember that on election night I was the first to call Arizona, Georgia, and the overall winner, beating the news!) The official report was supposed to be released to the Arizona Senate yesterday at 4 pm Eastern time, but I can’t find a note of that release.
BREAKING: The #azaudit draft report from Cyber Ninjas confirms the county’s canvass of the 2020 General Election was accurate and the candidates certified as the winners did, in fact, win.
— Maricopa County (@maricopacounty) September 24, 2021
NEW: Here’s round two of our #FactCheck on several of the claims Cyber Ninjas identified as the most serious in their report: 🧵
— Maricopa County (@maricopacounty) September 24, 2021
One brief quote from the above that testifies why science is spooky so scientists need faith: “Witness supernatural-like concepts such as virtual particles, imaginary time and quantum entanglement.” I will not deal further with this essay, as it’s not even wrong.
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 687,247, an increase of 2,062 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,752,605, an increase of about 9,200 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on September 25 includes:
- 1237 – England and Scotland sign the Treaty of York, establishing the location of their common border.
- 1513 – Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa reaches what would become known as the Pacific Ocean.
Read “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” by Keats. He may have mistaken Cortez for Balboa, but it’s a great poem anyway.
- 1690 – Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick, the first newspaper to appear in the Americas, is published for the first and only time.
Here’s that one-time newspaper, published in Boston.
- 1789 – The United States Congress passes twelve constitutional amendments: the ten known as the Bill of Rights, the (unratified) Congressional Apportionment Amendment, and the Congressional Compensation Amendment.
Here’s the Senate revisions to the amendments that were passed by the House (p. 1 of 3):
- 1926 – The international Convention to Suppress the Slave Trade and Slavery is first signed.
- 1957 – Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, is integrated by the use of United States Army troops.
Here are the “Little Rock Nine” being escorted to class on September 25, along with photo of Elizabeth Eckford as she tried (and failed) to enter class on September 4 (the National Guard blocked the door, but Eisenhower then federalized the state National Guard, who are the escorts in the top photo):
- 1974 – Dr. Frank Jobe performs first ulnar collateral ligament replacement surgery (better known as Tommy John surgery) on baseball player Tommy John.
- 2018 – Bill Cosby is sentenced to three to ten years in prison for aggravated sexual assault.
As you know, he was set free for violations of his due process, although of course he was guilty. At least he’ll never sell pudding again.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1764 – Fletcher Christian, English sailor (d. 1793)
- 1866 – Thomas Hunt Morgan, American biologist, geneticist, and embryologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1945)
Morgan, my academic great-grandfather, founded the discipline of Drosophila genetics and won the Nobel Prize for it. Here he is in the “Fly Room” at Columbia University. Professors always worked in coat and tie back then!
- 1897 – William Faulkner, American novelist and short story writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1962)
- 1903 – Mark Rothko, Latvian-American painter and educator (d. 1970)
- 1930 – Shel Silverstein, American author, poet, illustrator, and songwriter (d. 1999)
Here’s Silverstein’s poem “Zombie Cat”:
- 1932 – Glenn Gould, Canadian pianist and composer (d. 1982)
- 1951 – Mark Hamill, American actor, singer, and producer
- 1952 – bell hooks, American author and activist
- 1952 – Christopher Reeve, American actor, producer, and activist (d. 2004)
- 1965 – Scottie Pippen, American basketball player and sportscaster
Pippen of course played for the Chicago Bulls during our great years. Here are ten of his best plays:
Those whose lives were terminated on September 25 include:
- 1849 – Johann Strauss I, Austrian composer (b. 1804)
- 1933 – Ring Lardner, American journalist and author (b. 1885)
Lardner’s photo is below. As Wikipedia notes, “His contemporaries Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, and F. Scott Fitzgerald all professed strong admiration for his writing, and author John O’Hara directly attributed his understanding of dialogue to him.”
- 1960 – Emily Post, American author and educator (b. 1873)
And here’s Post, who looks pretty much like what a writer on etiquette should look like:
- 1971 – Hugo Black, American captain, jurist, and politician (b. 1886)
- 2003 – George Plimpton, American writer and literary editor (b. 1927)
- 2016 – Arnold Palmer, American golfer (b. 1929)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has become a penitente:
A; Why are you lying down on the concrete?Hili: I’m mortifying myself for my ancestors’ sins.
Ja: Czemu leżysz na betonie?Hili: Umartwiam się za grzechy przodków.
A lovely photo of Baby Kulka, showing her tongue, from Paulina:
From Titania on RBG:
The @ACLU is right to celebrate the achievements of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the anniversary of her death.
And also to point out that she was a vile transphobic bigot whose words must be erased from history. https://t.co/Q8yvY8bnCX
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) September 22, 2021
A tweet from Barry. Do you think the cat is really trying to save the baby?
Cat saves baby from falling down the stairs🥺 pic.twitter.com/mHpJhnJ69e
— 💉Lars🇳🇴 (@aflyguynew1) September 22, 2021
From Ginger K. If you own exactly two moggies, you can participate in some citizen science sponsored by UC Davis and the University of British Columbia. And you get to watch ten cat videos! Click on the link in the tweet.
— former fetus 4 choice is tired. so very tired. (@godfree_kd) September 17, 2021
From the Auschwitz Memorial, one who survived:
25 September 1923 | A Polish woman, Jadwiga Dyl, was born in Okocim.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) September 25, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. He stole my duck joke so I retweeted his with my own duck joke:
A duck goes into a drugstore and asks for Chapstick.
The druggist says, "Will that be cash or charge, sir?"
The duck replies, "Just put it on my bill." https://t.co/jReXAoERVE
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) September 24, 2021
And somebody responded to Matthew’s tweet:
Why do ducks have feathers?
To cover up their buttquacks
— Jason Somers (@jasesomers) September 24, 2021
Chicago’s streets in the loop run straight east-west, so the light shines down them on the equinox:
— Barry Butler Photography (@barrybutler9) September 20, 2021
From BugGuide: “[Cryptocephalus] larvae are casebearers, living in and protected by a case constructed of their fecal matter and sometimes plant debris. The case is shorter than the larva that remains folded inside it.
Imagine scenarios for how this could have evolved (it’s an “extended phenotype” reflecting larval behavior).
The rather amazing larva of a Cryptocephalus leaf beetle, found on calcareous grassland in Bedfordshire last weekend pic.twitter.com/o8MdFcSozi
— Tony Davis (@sibilatrix) September 24, 2021