Good morning on the cruelest day of the week, Tuesday, September 28, 2021: National Strawberry Cream Pie Day.
News of the Day:
Lots o’ news today.
*When Will They Ever Learn Department: The Washington Post reports that, according to the FBI, the U.S. murder rate in 2020 rose 29.4% over the preceding year. And more of the killing is done with guns:
The FBI data also shows how much killing in America is fueled by shootings. Guns accounted for 73 percent of homicides in 2019, but that increased to 76 percent of homicides in 2020. Houston saw a 55 percent increase in gun killings, which jumped from 221 in 2019 to 343 in 2020. Overall, the city saw more than 400 killings last year.
The good news is that overall crime is down, and what’s below is also touted as good news:
Overall, however, crime is still well below the historic highs reached in the early 1990s. And in many cities, including Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago, the number of killings is still far below the record-high tolls from nearly 30 years ago.
The reasons given by a criminology professor for the murder increase: “the pandemic and what he called a ‘police legitimacy crisis’ brought on by the videotaped killing last year of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis.” Last night the NBC News added two more factors: a larger number of people staying home and a rise in firearm sales, presumably to protect those people staying at home.
So far this year, murders in many places are already above the 2020 record, so stay tuned.
*Will the government shut down on September 30? That may be likely since Republicans in the Senate blocked a House-originated bill to raise the debt limit and avert a shutdown at least until December. (It would take 60 votes of approval in a Senate divided down the middle.)
*A three-judge federal court in New York City ruled unexpectedly early that the City can indeed enforce its vaccination mandate for school teachers and staff, which thus began at midnight last night. Now the opponents are finagling for a weekly testing option. I’m amused by the sentence I put in bold:
An attorney representing Department of Education employees says opponents of the mayor’s school mandate just want a weekly test option scribed into the rule for those who, for whatever reason, do not want to be inoculated against COVID.
“Quite many of them are not anti-vaccination. They’re anti-mandate,” attorney Louis Gelormino said of city education workers who oppose de Blasio’s shot requirement.
*Also in New York, singer-songwriter R. Kelly was found guilty of all nine charges leveled against him, charges of racketeering and sex trafficking. many involving underage girls and boys. On this conviction alone, Kelly faces 10 years to life, and given that he’s 54, he’ll not see freedom again. But it isn’t over yet; the NYT adds that “Mr. Kelly also faces charges in at least two other states, including federal child pornography and obstruction counts in Chicago.” He’ll be sentenced on the NY conviction on May 4.
*From NYT columnist Charles Blow, a piece called “The mendacity of Joe Biden.” Blow is a black writer, and deplores the administration’s handling of the Haitian immigrants:
The latest offense was the administration’s disastrous mishandling of the Haitian migrant crisis at the southern border.
Yes, there were the outrageous images of agents on horseback herding the migrants like cattle, and there was also the administration aggressively deporting the migrants back to Haiti.
When I see those Black bodies at the border, I am unable to separate them from myself, or my family, or my friends. They are us. There is a collective consciousness in blackness, born of the white supremacist erasure of our individuality.
. . . As a justification for many of the deportations, the Biden administration invoked Title 42, which allows deportations based on supposed health risks. The Associated Press pointed out, “The Trump administration invoked it in March 2020 to sweeping effect, prohibiting entry by virtually anyone from Mexico and Canada and essentially sealing the northern and southern borders.” Isn’t that ironic.
I wasn’t aware that many of the Haitians, as Blow reports, haven’t been in Haiti in years, but have presumably been in Mexico or Central America. But that doesn’t explain their attempted egress now, for they weren’t there during the recent weather and political troubles occurring in Haiti.
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 690,558, an increase of 2,052 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,771,343, an increase of about 8,300 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on September 28 includes:
- 1066 – William the Conqueror lands in England, beginning the Norman conquest.
- 1867 – Toronto becomes the capital of Ontario, having also been the capital of Ontario’s predecessors since 1796.
- 1889 – The General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) defines the length of a meter.
Here’s the platinum-iridium meter bar standard used in the U.S. until 1960, when the meter was redefined as “the distance traveled in a vacuum by light in 1/299,792,458 second”.
- 1928 – Alexander Fleming notices a bacteria-killing mold growing in his laboratory, discovering what later became known as penicillin.
Matthew found a tweet with a link to a BBC show, and a picture of Fleming.
— BBC Radio 4 (@BBCRadio4) September 28, 2021
- 1941 – Ted Williams achieves a .406 batting average for the season, and becomes the last major league baseball player to bat .400 or better.
Williams went into the last day of the season with a .3996 average, which, if he sat out the game, could have been rounded up to .400 and give him that benchmark. But as he recounts in the video below, he didn’t even think of that. He went 3 for 4 in each of two games of a double-hitter, and wound up with the solid .406. (Remember, that’s over 4 hits for every ten times at bat—a fantastic average.)
- 1995 – Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat sign the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Notables born on this day include:
- 551 BC – Confucius, Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher of the Spring and Autumn period of Chinese history. (d. 479 BC)
- 1836 – Thomas Crapper, English plumber, invented the ballcock (d. 1910)
Remember, Crapper (photo below) didn’t invent the flush toilet—a longstanding joke, but close to the truth—yet he made several improvements in plumbing, including the floating ballcock for toilets which you’ve seen (#1 in diagram below). He had a royal warrant for toilets since he provided privies for Prince Albert and George V.
- 1901 – Ed Sullivan, American television host (d. 1974)
- 1909 – Al Capp, American author and illustrator (d. 1979)
Remember Capp’s invention of he schmoo, a bowling-pin-shaped animal that was delicious to eat and “eager to be eaten”?
Three lovely actors were born on this day. One is gone: Sylvia Kristel (“Emmanuelle”) died of throat and esophageal cancer at 60. She had been a heavy smoker since age 11. Bardot and Sorvino are with us, but I haven’t seen Sorvino in a film in a long time. Sorvino won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in Woody Allen’s “Mighty Aphrodite” (1995).
- 1934 – Brigitte Bardot, French actress
- 1952 – Sylvia Kristel, Dutch model and actress (d. 2012)
- 1967 – Mira Sorvino, American actress
Those who went beneath the loam on September 28 include:
- 1891 – Herman Melville, American author and poet (b. 1819)
Melville in 1861:
- 1895 – Louis Pasteur, French chemist and microbiologist (b. 1822)
Discovering the principles of vaccination, microbial fermentation, and pasteurization (he’s immortalized that way), as well as definitively disproving spontaneous generation, a scientist could hardly accomplish more in one lifetime. Here’s a studio portrait that’s been restored:
- 1953 – Edwin Hubble, American astronomer and scholar (b. 1889)
- 1964 – Harpo Marx, American comedian, actor, and singer (b. 1888)
- 1970 – John Dos Passos, American novelist, poet, essayist, and playwright (b. 1896)
- 1991 – Miles Davis, American trumpet player, composer, and bandleader (b. 1926)
Here’s one of my favorite Davis songs, “Boplicity“, from his “Birth of the Cool” album.
- 2000 – Pierre Trudeau, Canadian journalist, lawyer, and politician, 15th Prime Minister of Canada (b. 1919)
- 2016 – Shimon Peres, Polish-Israeli statesman and politician, 9th President of Israel (b. 1923)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili sees herself as an agent of natural selection:
Hili: I have to have a rest.A: What were you doing?Hili: I was teaching mice the art of survival.
Hili: Muszę odpocząć.Ja: A co robiłaś?Hili: Uczyłam myszy sztuki przetrwania.
A caracal from Facebook. Look at that ear-twitching!
Do send in one or two good tweets every once in a while. My contributions from readers (about 3 per day) have fallen to nearly zero.
I may have already posted this one from Titania; if so, here it is again:
This is NOT okay. 😡
Social justice activism is NOT some kind of grubby competition to see who can be the most virtuous.
Please like, retweet,and tell everybody about my brave stance on this issue. https://t.co/kX7MxeU3X7
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) September 10, 2021
From the Auschwitz Memorial:
28 September 1888 | A Czech Jewish woman, Elsa Friedová, was born in Zábřeh.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) September 28, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. This first one qualifies for Tweet of the Month:
Sex so good you knock Alan out of a tree while he's having his dinner. pic.twitter.com/g2LK5HV72o
— Paul Bronks (@slender_sherbet) June 29, 2021
Two tweets showing the harpist Naomi SV entertaining herself and the deer. Ineffably sweet. Sound up on both, and watch till the end of both:
i love her. a deer comes to her in this one too while she plays green grass by tom waits ☺️ pic.twitter.com/8N6mYabWYR
— ecto🦠spasm (@ecto_fun) September 27, 2021
I guess it’s Heartwarmer Day. A teenager gets a surprise gift of a ginger kitten:
14-year-old girl fell in love with this tiny kitten online — watch her sweet reaction when she finds out he’s her birthday surprise 💛 pic.twitter.com/ESy6wxStZX
— The Dodo (@dodo) September 26, 2021
I am that kind of doctor, but I don’t know the answer:
Flight Attendant: Is there a doctor on this plane?
Ryan: Yes, but honestly I'm not that kind of…
Flight Attendant: We need information on the spread of invasive wild pigs in Canada. ASAP.
Ryan: Very good. Take me to the captain immediately.
— Ryan Brook 🐗🇨🇦 🐺 🇨🇦 🦌 🇨🇦 (@RyanKBrook) September 24, 2021
Lost its fucking shit 2021.
— We are all mammals (@mrssomerset) September 24, 2021