Good morning on Sunday, September 26, 2021: National Key Lime Pie Day. (If you try it, be sure that Key limes were used rather than the big, regular Persian limes. They try to fool you with the name a lot of the time.)
News of the Day:
It’s now been 248 days since Biden took office, and still there is no cat in the White House, as he and Jill promised. Could this be playing into his slipping approval ratings?
*The controversy over booster shots continues as the CDC has recommended boosters for those over 65 and the immunocompromised. The shots are now “going into arms”, as they say. The NYT editorial Board objects to the inequity of the distribution, both to countries and Americans who hold certain jobs, while, in a separate editorial, two physicians also object to the notion of giving boosters now to some Americans:
But the C.D.C. also said two additional groups “may” get boosters “based on their individual benefits and risks”: people 18 to 49 with underlying medical conditions and people 18 to 64 who are at a high risk of coronavirus exposure at work.
The second set of recommendations is premature and too vague.
*And the Associated Press underlines how much money there is to be made by Pfizer and Moderna for producing boosters:
No one knows yet how many people will get the extra shots. But Morningstar analyst Karen Andersen expects boosters alone to bring in about $26 billion in global sales next year for Pfizer and BioNTech and around $14 billion for Moderna if they are endorsed for nearly all Americans.
The profit margin on boosters is estimated at around 20% because there are no R&D costs, so if both boosters are approved, the companies rake in $7-8 billion in profit alone. That’s on top of the regular vaccine profits, of course.
*Finally, if you want to know why some vaccines last a lifetime, like measles, while others wear off fairly quickly, the Wall Street Journal has an informative article. I like the part about vaccines that use replicating viruses.
*The Guardian gives a review of Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein’s new book, A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century: Evolution and the Challenges of Modern Life. It’s an extremely critical take, critical to the point of nasty about nearly everything in the book. A quote:
Not that the authors do much better when they engage with studies. They make alarming pronouncements based on flimsy data, such as when they say that water fluoridation is “neurotoxic” to children based on one reference to a “pilot study”. They lazily repeat false information from other pop-science books, such as the “fact” that all known species sleep (some, including certain amphibians, don’t!). The final chapter, in which they embrace the bonkers “degrowth” movement, contains what might be the single stupidest paragraph on economics ever written (claiming, bizarrely, that the invention of more efficient versions of products such as fridges would bring the economy to its knees).
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 687,876, an increase of 2,034 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,758,478, an increase of about 5,900 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on September 26 includes:
Here’s Drake’s route, which took nearly three years.
- 1687 – Morean War: The Parthenon in Athens, used as a gunpowder depot by the Ottoman garrison, is partially destroyed after being bombarded during the Siege of the Acropolis by Venetian forces.
What a disaster! Here’s a visualization of the original about 400 B.C., with painted figures and how it looks now. (I used to play among its ruins when I was a lad in Greece; that’s not permitted now.)
- 1789 – George Washington appoints Thomas Jefferson the first United States Secretary of State.
- 1905 – Albert Einstein publishes the third of his Annus Mirabilis papers, introducing the special theory of relativity.
Here’s that third one, though they singled out his paper on the photoelectric effect when he got the Nobel Prize.
- 1918 – World War I: The Meuse-Argonne Offensive began which would last until the total surrender of German forces.
- 1933 – As gangster Machine Gun Kelly surrenders to the FBI, he shouts out, “Don’t shoot, G-Men!”, which becomes a nickname for FBI agents.
Here’s Kelly and his wife receiving life sentences for kidnapping in October of 1933. He died in prison of a heart attack on his 59th birthday:
- 1953 – Rationing of sugar in the United Kingdom ends.
This was eight years after the end of the war! It was hard times in the UK.
- 1960 – In Chicago, the first televised debate takes place between presidential candidates Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy.
- 1969 – Abbey Road, the last recorded album by the Beatles, is released.
- 1981 – Nolan Ryan sets a Major League record by throwing his fifth no-hitter.
Here’s the last out of Ryan’s record-setting fifth no-hitter. Ryan got up to seven before he retired. Sandy Koufax is second with four.
- 1984 – The United Kingdom and China agree to a transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong, to take place in 1997.
- 2008 – Swiss pilot and inventor Yves Rossy becomes first person to fly a jet engine-powered wing across the English Channel.
Here’s a news video of Rossy’s remarkable flight, which took just ten minutes.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1774 – Johnny Appleseed, American gardener and environmentalist (d. 1845)
- 1849 – Ivan Pavlov, Russian physiologist and physician, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1936)
Pavlov (not salivating):
- 1874 – Lewis Hine, American photographer and activist (d. 1940)
Among his other work, Hine documented child labor in the U.S., which led to changes in the laws. Here’s one of his photos, “Child laborers in glasswork. Indiana, 1908″ (the picture’s labeled “Midnight at the glassworks”).
- 1888 – T. S. Eliot, English poet, playwright, critic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1965)
- 1898 – George Gershwin, American pianist and composer (d. 1937)
- 1914 – Jack LaLanne, American fitness expert (d. 2011)
For some reason I used to watch this show, though I didn’t do the exercises. I still know the words and tune to his “Goodbye Song” at the show’s end (below), sung when he was both young and old:
- 1925 – Marty Robbins, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and race car driver (d. 1982)
Here’s Robbins singing his most famous song (1965). Robbins wrote the song in 1959.
- 1946 – Andrea Dworkin, American activist and author (d. 2005)
- 1948 – Olivia Newton-John, English-Australian singer-songwriter and actress
- 1981 – Serena Williams, American tennis player
Those who died on September 26 include:
- 1797 – James Hutton, Scottish geologist and physician (b. 1726)
- 1827 – Ludwig van Beethoven, German pianist and composer (b. 1770)
- 1892 – Walt Whitman, American poet, essayist, and journalist (b. 1819)
- 1923 – Sarah Bernhardt, French actress and screenwriter (b. 1844)
- 1969 – John Kennedy Toole, American novelist (b. 1937)
Toole (photo below) wrote one book, but it’s a doozie: A Confederacy of Dunces, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1981. (It’s good!) He committed suicide at age 31, and his book won the Prize eleven years after his death, published with the help of his mother and Walker Percy.
- 1973 – Noël Coward, English playwright, actor, and composer (b. 1899)
- 1996 – Edmund Muskie, American lieutenant, lawyer, and politician, 58th United States Secretary of State (b. 1914)
- 2011 – Geraldine Ferraro, American lawyer and politician (b. 1935)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili needs nourishment to save the world.
Hili: We have to repair the world.A: What should we start with?Hili: First we need to eat something.
Hili: Musimy naprawić świat.Ja: Od czego zaczniemy?Hili: Najpierw trzeba coś zjeść.
Szaron and Kulka on the windowsill, inside and out
From Divy. How Ceiling Cat makes rain:
From Jesus of the Day. You can thank me later. (Yes, it’s a real word.)
From Titania. Dear Ceiling Cat, this really was the cover of The Lancet, Britain’s premier medical journal)—not Scientific American. The problem with Titania’s aside, of course, is that not all transwomen have vaginas, and some transmen do.
As a proud feminist, I have always dreamed of the day that women will be referred to as “bodies with vaginas”.
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) September 24, 2021
Speaking of which, here’s a photo (second tweet) in which women are given the short shrift (h/t Luana):
Not just medical professionals. pic.twitter.com/ciCetDLB1H
— Denise 🌱 (@BosmerArcher5) September 24, 2021
A cute tweet from Barry who says ‘it’s cheaper than pest control.”
Cheaper than calling pest control! Small chameleons snack on insects. pic.twitter.com/MPX4NbmxIe
— Char Adams, PhD MPH MA (@_cdadams_) September 22, 2021
From Simon. The Lincoln Project (comprising never-Trumper Republicans) goes after the Republican governor of Texas:
Greg Abbott and the political hacks he surrounds himself with don’t want you to see our newest ad.
They’re getting nervous.pic.twitter.com/LxGrB2zsV5
— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) September 17, 2021
From the Auschwitz Memorial:
26 September 1918 | A Jewish woman, Claire Eskenazi, was born in Mexico City. She lived in Saint Etienne in France.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) September 26, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. First, a lovely heartwarmer (Ignore the jerks who abused Rhys):
Incredible: Fulham players climb into crowd to celebrate goal with 13-Year Old fan Rhys Porter who has cerebral palsy and suffered savage online abuse after posting footage of himself playing football. Beautiful moment of empathy and human kindness 🙌 pic.twitter.com/mf0Dq33fII
— roger bennett (@rogbennett) September 25, 2021
More of Rhys:
Rhys is listed as a goalkeeper on Fulham’s official team page too 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻 pic.twitter.com/0Vgwxam58c
— Ben McAleer (@BenMcAleer1) September 25, 2021
Does God have an inordinate fondness for beetle larvae?
The sheer morphological and ecological diversity of beetle larvae never ceases to excite me! 🪲
Beetlemania is truly an incurable disease 🥲 pic.twitter.com/LaFlRjZjm1
— Ivan The Insect (@Vannie_Bugg) September 25, 2021