Welcome to ein holpriger Tag: Wednesday, October 20, 2021: National Eggo Day. Eggos (or is it eggoes?) are frozen waffles prepared in a toaster. Not even close to real waffles. A famous commercial from the old days shows kids tussling over a waffle and one shouting, “Leggo my Eggo!” There are many of these on YouTube; I’ve put one below.
It’s also Office Chocolate Day (treat your colleagues!), Hagfish Day (“Hagfish Day was created in 2009 by WhaleTimes to encourage children to examine all creatures in the food web, not just sightly looking ones”, so hagfish represent all “ugly” animals), International Chefs Day, Love Your Body Day, National Brandied Fruit Day, National Chicken and Waffles Day (not Eggo waffles!), World Osteoporosis Day. and World Statistics Day.
Here’s an animal I consider uglier than the hagfish: the naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber):
I wonder who first had the idea of combining chicken and waffles? It was a good one! What other tasty combinations remain undiscovered? What if coffee didn’t exist? We wouldn’t be able to imagine how wonderful it is! Now think of all the other foods just as good or better, but that don’t exist.
News of the Day:
Oy gewalt! Trump has responded to the death of Colin Powell, and in a very Trumpian way, even asking for donations at the end (click on the statement to read the whole thing. Reader Simon, who sent me this, adds, “”Trump exhibits all the class you’d expect in extolling the virtues of a recently deceased Republican leader”. Yes, Powell screwed up over Iraq, but I still respect the guy, and at any rate, Trump shows his typical lack of class.
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) October 19, 2021
*The gang that kidnapped 17 missionaries in Haiti (16 Americans and a Canadian) has now spoken: they want $1 million per hostage. The Haitian Justice minister, however, says that the gang is open to bargaining:
“Usually, they request more, then people close to the kidnapped persons will negotiate,” Quitel said. “Usually, even when they ask for a ransom, they know they don’t get all that they ask.”
But I thought the U.S. had a policy of not paying ransom for hostages. (The FBI reaffirmed that on the NBC News last night.) But if they do, surely no American will be safe in Haiti from now on.
*Steve Bannon is on the road to indictment. The House Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection will almost surely vote to hold Steve Bannon for contempt of court for refusing to respond to his subpoena. If the vote is “aye,” it will go to the full house, and then is up to the decision of a federal prosecutor. Bannon claims that he doesn’t have to honor the subpoena or produce information because Jesus (aka Trump) told him so.
*The NYT science section has an article “Can skeletons have a racial identity?“, since forensic anthropologists often use skull configuration to tentatively diagnose the ethnicity of an unknown skeleton. It’s a good question, but author Sabrina Imbler gets all balled up trying to debunk the concept of race, replacing it with “affinity”, which pretty much corresponds to “ethnicity”, both terms being better than “race”, which is freighted with past misconceptions. It turns out that yes, you can often get at least a clue to “affinity”: from a skull, but of course that causes worries among the easily offended. It would have been a much better article had they played down the ideology and racism a bit and dealt more with the scientific issue, which is interesting. A quote (I’ve added a bio link):
Still, Dr. DiGangi said that switching to affinity may not address racial biases in law enforcement. Until she sees evidence that bias does not preclude people from becoming identified, she says, she does not want a “checkbox” that gets at ancestry or affinity.
Is that relevant?
*The Center for Inquiry’s Robyn Blumner rips Ken Ham a new one. Paul Fidalgo of CFI notes first that Tom Flynn, somewhat of a a humanist icon editor of Free Inquiry magazine and former director of the Council for Secular Humanism, died suddenly at 66 on August 23. The nefarious creationist Ken Ham used Flynn’s death in a fundraising appeal, writing this:
I certainly agree that this man’s death was a “tragedy of epic proportions.” As a member of the human family, he is (yes “is,” because he will live for eternity) our relative. And as far as we know from his own actions and all that’s been said about him, he will be separated from God for eternity. Yes, that is a tragedy. And this atheist group is applauding another tragedy by praising Tom Flynn for “helping to cause the Rise of the Nones,” sadly putting more on the broad way, and we want to do our best to put them on the narrow way that leads to life.
So Blumner issued a stinging response, also at the link above, part of which is this:
So the idea that Ken Ham, who trafficks in falsehoods based on laughable antiscience assertions, could ever hope to “undo the work of Tom Flynn” is absurd. That Ham would use Tom’s death as an excuse to extract millions of dollars from followers is sadly predictable. Tom Flynn’s legacy is one of progress and enlightenment. Whereas Ken Ham, with his ahistorical Creation Museum and Ark Encounter, is building a legacy of ignorance through Elmer Gantry–type ploys.
Referring to a child who had allegedly praised one of his creationist sermons, Ham wrote, “If only Tom Flynn would have had the faith of this child.”
In fact, Tom was a man of faith. The real kind, grounded in life’s experiences and evidence. He had faith in his family, his friends, his colleagues, and in the potential for human civilization to abandon fairy tales and reject provably ridiculous notions such as Ham’s young Earth creationism. No wonder Ham wants to “undo” Tom’s legacy.
Ham may be able to soak his followers of money, but what he cannot do is make our world better, smarter, or more enlightened. That job falls to those of us who embrace reason, science, and compassion—in other words, it falls to those following the example of Tom Flynn.
Ceiling Cat praise Blumner!
Here are the results of yesterday’s poll on whether they should remove the statue of Thomas Jefferson from the council chamber of New York’s City Hall: more than 7 to 1 in favor of leaving the statue up. Of course our readers are hardly a random sample of Americans, much less African-Americans, but I don’t think they’re racists, either!
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 728,400, an increase of 1,557 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,930,707, an increase of about 8,000 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on October 20 includes:
- 1572 – Eighty Years’ War: Three thousand Spanish soldiers wade through fifteen miles of water in one night to effect the relief of Goes.
Given the difficulty of this, it’s a miracle that only nine men drowned. And their mission was successful.
- 1803 – The United States Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase.
- 1935 – The Long March, a mammoth retreat undertaken by the armed forces of the Chinese Communist Party a year prior, ends.
Of course Wikipedia notes that October 22 (1936) was the real end of the long march, so it should once again clean up its act.
- 1947 – The House Un-American Activities Committee begins its investigation into Communist infiltration of the Hollywood film industry, resulting in a blacklist that prevents some from working in the industry for years.
Here are the “Hollywood Ten” cited for contempt of Conrgess and then blacklisted afterwards. They were also fined $1,000 each and sentenced to between six months and a year in prison:
- Alvah Bessie, screenwriter
- Herbert Biberman, screenwriter and director
- Lester Cole, screenwriter
- Edward Dmytryk, director
- Ring Lardner Jr., screenwriter
- John Howard Lawson, screenwriter
- Albert Maltz, screenwriter
- Samuel Ornitz, screenwriter
- Adrian Scott, producer and screenwriter
- Dalton Trumbo, screenwriter
- Dorothy Parker, screenwriter
- 1951 – The “Johnny Bright incident” occurs during a football game between the Drake Bulldogs and Oklahoma A&M Aggies.
This was an unconscionable racial assault. As Wikipedia notes:
The Johnny Bright incident was a violent on-field assault against African-American player Johnny Bright by a white opposing player during an American college football game held on October 20, 1951, in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The game was significant in itself as it marked the first time that an African-American athlete with a national profile and of critical importance to the success of his team, the Drake Bulldogs, had played against Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University) at Oklahoma A&M’s Lewis Field. Bright’s injury also highlighted the racial tensions of the times and assumed notoriety when it was captured in what was later to become both a widely disseminated and eventually Pulitzer Prize-winning photo sequence.
The targeted Bright was knocked unconscious three times in the game’s first seven minutes, and later his jaw was broken, impeding his performance for the rest of the season. He still played, though, and went on to a career in the Canadian football league, where they presumably treated black players like human beings instead of targets. Oklahoma State (who won the game) did not apologize to Drake University until 2005.
- 1973 – “Saturday Night Massacre”: United States President Richard Nixon fires U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus after they refuse to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who is finally fired by Robert Bork.
- 1973 – The Sydney Opera House is opened by Elizabeth II after 14 years of construction.
Here’s a video of Elizabeth at the opening of that wonderful piece of architecture:
- 1981 – Two police officers and an armored car guard are killed during an armed robbery carried out by members of the Black Liberation Army and Weather Underground.
Nine people were tried and convicted of the crime; all served serious time. The most famous, Kathy Boudin, is now Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Center for Justice at Columbia University.
- 2003 – The Sloan Great Wall, once the largest cosmic structure known to humanity, is discovered by students at Princeton University.
What is a “cosmic structure”? I didn’t know, so I had to look it up. It turns out to be a “dense cluster of galaxies”, and such clusters are predicted by cosmology. From the Sloan Digital Sky Survey:
Matter in the universe is not distributed randomly. Galaxies, quasars, and intergalactic gas outline a pattern that has been compared to soap bubbles – large voids surrounded by thin walls of galaxies, with dense galaxy clusters where walls intersect. One of the primary goals of the SDSS is to map this structure in great detail, out to large distances. Scientists have many theories about how the universe evolved, and the theories predict different large-scale structures for the universe. The SDSS’s map may tell us which theories are right – or whether we will have to come up with entirely new ideas.
Here’s the largest cosmic structure now known, the Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall, nearly ten billion light years across (to be precise, 9,700,000,000)! Below is an “artist’s conception based on an axonometric view of the inferred superstructure Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall.” It is the biggest “thing” in the Universe as far as we know.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1632 – Christopher Wren, English physicist, mathematician, and architect, designed St Paul’s Cathedral (d. 1723)
Here’s the only building Wren designed in America: the “Wren Building” at my alma mater, The College of William and Mary. I had the privilege of taking three English classes in this lovely place:
- 1790 – Patrick Matthew. Scottish farmer and biologist (d. 1874)
More than anyone else, Matthew anticipated Darwin’s theory of natural selection. In an appendix to his book on using wood to build ships, On Naval Timber and Aboriculture (1831), Matthew described a theory very like Darwin’s idea of natural selection. Matthew contacted Darwin after The Origin was published, and in later editions of his book Darwin gave Matthew credit for anticipating Darwin’s own theory. The resemblance is remarkable, though of course Darwin worked it out in great detail rather than touching briefly on it as Matthew did. Darwin therefore gets the lion’s share of the credit.
There are no photos of The Báb that I could find.
- 1854 – Arthur Rimbaud, French soldier and poet (d. 1891)
Here’s the poet, who died of bone cancer at 37:
- 1925 – Art Buchwald, American soldier and journalist (d. 2007)
- 1927 – Joyce Brothers, American psychologist, author, and actress (d. 2013)
- 1950 – Tom Petty, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (d. 2017)
- 1951 – Ken Ham, Australian-American evangelist
- 1964 – Kamala Harris, American politician and lawyer, 49th Vice President of the United States
Kamala was supposed to be in charge of immigration, especially out of Mexico, but as far as I can see she hasn’t done jack.
- 1971 – Snoop Dogg, American rapper, producer, and actor
Snoop Dogg is fifty today. Here he is singing “Roaches in my Ashtray”:
Those whose Krebs Cycle stopped cycling on October 20 include:
Debs (below) served two prison terms totaling a bit over three years, the second for sedition. That sentence was commuted by President Harding:
- 1936 – Anne Sullivan, American educator (b. 1866)
Here’s Sullivan and her famous pupil, Helen Keller:
- 1964 – Herbert Hoover, American engineer and politician, 31st President of the United States (b. 1874)
- 1984 – Paul Dirac, English-American physicist and mathematician, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1902)
Here’s a brief biography of Dirac that shows some video of him teaching at Florida State University:
- 1994 – Burt Lancaster, American actor (b. 1913)
I love this movie, and this scene was about the most erotic thing going in 1953. His mate here is Deborah Kerr, the wife of his captain in the movie.
- 2020 – James Randi, Canadian-American stage magician and author (b. 1928)
It’s hard to believe that it was just a year ago that Randi died. Here’s a photo I took of him at The Amazing Meeting in July, 2013:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is wary, as she can’t abide either children or d*gs:
A: What do you see over there?Hili: Children.A: So what?Hili: You never know with children.
Ja: Co tam widzisz?Hili: Dzieci.Ja: No to co?Hili: Z dziećmi nigdy nic nie wiadomo.
and from the same site, with the caption, “Beautiful sculptures of animals made by carving bushes. Source: Reddit:
From Barry, who says he’ll pass on this comestible. Could this be in the cat food section?
From Ken, who adds this: “Nationally syndicated right-wing talk-radio jock (and proprietor of Prager U) Dennis Prager has contracted COVID-19. According to what he says below, he has eschewed vaccination, but has been on a strict regimen of hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, and other crank preventatives. Prager also says — get this! — that he has been intentionally exposing himself, maskless, to strangers in the hope of getting COVID.”
Prager succeeded. I guess the hydroxychlorquinone and ivermectin didn’t work. Sound up, of course.
This is a shocking quote: "I have engaged with strangers, constantly hugging them, taking photos with them knowing that I was making myself very susceptible to getting COVID. Which is, indeed, as bizarre as it sounded, what I wanted" https://t.co/uOJwHtqozp
— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) October 18, 2021
From Dom; Google translation: “The White Swan School Sailing Ship @marmilbr crashed on a bridge in Ecuador. And so goes our armed forces.” Dom adds that if you think you’re having a bad day, imagine being the captain of this boat.
— Detetive Pikachu (@arrobaleatoria) October 18, 2021
The thread shows the aftermath, which isn’t pretty. Here’s are two more tweets
— Detetive Pikachu (@arrobaleatoria) October 18, 2021
Tweets from Matthew, who loves bats as much as I:
Bat eating a grape pic.twitter.com/mOvBcspbDK
— Diane Doniol-Valcroze (@ddoniolvalcroze) October 19, 2021
A beautiful photo:
Under a mushroom cap. Thought everyone would enjoy this. pic.twitter.com/0zYVNjQdT4
— Alberto (@Alberto66305131) October 19, 2021
The pollution of science by ideology (click to read the whole title). Is there a list of accepted genders for hamsters?
— Yaniv Erlich (@erlichya) October 19, 2021
And a very good philosophy cartoon:
— Existential Comics (@existentialcoms) October 18, 2021
Look at the ecstatic expression on this donkey! Sound up.
In a world where you can be anything, be kind.. 😊
🎥 IG: longhopesdonkeyshelter pic.twitter.com/k4GxPNvO8R
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden_) October 16, 2021