Welcome to the Sabbath for all eydishe kets (יידישע קעץץ): Saturday, October 23, 2021. It’s National Boston Cream Pie Day, declared the official dessert of Massachusetts in 1996. It’s not really a pie but a cream-filled, chocolate covered cake, and it’s good. It looks like this:
It’s also National Canning Day, National iPod Day, National Pit Bull Awareness Day (it’s always wise to be aware when you’re around them), Swallows Depart from San Juan Capistrano Day, and Mole Day. Here’s the explanation of Mole Day, which doesn’t involve animals:
Mole Day is an unofficial holiday celebrated among chemists, chemistry students and chemistry enthusiasts on October 23, between 6:02 a.m. and 6:02 p.m., making the date 6:02 10/23 in the American style of writing dates. The time and date are derived from the Avogadro number, which is approximately 6.02×1023, defining the number of particles (atoms or molecules) in one mole (mol) of substance, one of the seven base SI units.
News of the Day:
*This I consider a very bad portent: the Supreme Court, considering the Justice Department objection to Texas’s unconstitutional and draconian new anti-abortion law, and also considering the state’s response, decided to let the Texas law stay in place until expedited oral arguments are heard on November 1. CNN adds:
In agreeing to hear the case under such an expedited time frame, the court said Friday that it would focus specifically on the unusual way in which the Texas legislature crafted the law. It also said it will review whether the US Justice Department can challenge the law in court.
The U.S. has no standing in challenging an unconstitutional law? Do they need a pregnant women to bring suit? This is above my pay grade, but it’s beyond me how the Court can allow a palpably unconstitutional law to stay in effect at all.
*The Democrats are still fractured on Biden’s spending bills, but are slowly easing their way to a consensus. Senator Kyrsten Sinema has thrown up a big roadblock by saying she will not vote to raise taxes on the rich, on corporations or on capital gains, all of which were supposed to be the basis for funding both bills. Where else could they get all that money?
*Actor Alec Baldwin fired what was supposed to be a prop firearm while filming the movie “Rust,” and it turned out not to be a prop. It went off, 48 killing Halyana Hutchins, 42, the director of photography, and injuring director Joel Souza, 48. The police are investigating what happened, and Baldwin hasn’t been charged with anything. I assume it was an accident, but I doubt that the projectile was a blank, which can cause damage, but couldn’t kill two people at some distance from the gun.
*Reader Ken informs us that The Jan. 6th Capitol insurrections in prison awaiting trial have started their own prison gang. As Ken comments, “I guess the Aryan Brotherhood is just too damn liberal.” To wit:
At 9 p.m. every night, inmates in the so-called Patriot Wing of the D.C. Correctional Treatment Facility reportedly stand at attention and sing The Star-Spangled Banner. You can even listen, if you want, to an alleged recording of it on the website called The Patriot Freedom Project.
. . .The “Patriot Wing” houses the most hardcore perpetrators of the January 6 riot, roughly 40 men in all.
On the outside, they’ve been recast as “political prisoners” by some sitting GOP politicians, while some fans even paint them as heroes—literally.
*The headline of the Washington Post piece says it all: “Otters are taking over Singapore.” (h/t Paul). What an adorable story!
Today, to the annoyance of some and the joy of others, the island is home to more than 10 otter romps, or families.
In the Marina Bay area, known for architecturally audacious hotels and for one-bedroom apartments that sell for $1.8 million, otters bop in the water and the crunch of fish bones echoes along the boardwalk. Using drainpipes as highways, the carnivorous mammals traverse the city, sometimes popping up in rush-hour traffic, or racing through university campuses.
Otters pushed out of the local rivers and bays by rival families dig homes between buildings. They visit hospital lobbies and condominium pools, hunting for koi fish and drinking from fountains. New families fight for access to food and shelter, in battles that are covered by the local papers and dissected online.
Count me in with the otter-lovers!
*The NYT reviews a new book on the deciphering of the Rosetta Stone, titled The Writing of the Gods: The Race to Decode the Rosetta Stone, by Edward Golnick (Amazon link here). It turns out that two men, one British and the other French, were racing to decode the previously mysterious hieroglyphics. It sounds like a fascinating read.
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 735,515, an increase of 1,504 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,955,350, an increase of about 7,800 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on October 23 includes:
- 4004 BC – James Ussher’s proposed creation date of the world according to the Bible.
Well, Wikipedia said the creation (calculated by going back through the “begats” and estimating, was actually about 6 p.m. on October 22. The 9 a.m. on October 23 date, which you often hear, is an error. If you want to see how he made the calculations, go here. He also calculated that Jesus would return in 2000 AD. His estimates, and the Bible, are the basis for the assertions of a recent creation by those chowderheaed young-earth creationists. Here’s the document in which he made the bogus calculation.
- 1707 – The First Parliament of Great Britain convenes.
- 1739 – The War of Jenkins’ Ear begins when Prime Minister Walpole reluctantly declares war on Spain.
You’ll want to hear why this war has such a weird name.
- 1850 – The first National Women’s Rights Convention begins in Worcester, Massachusetts.
This was not the first women’s rights convention, which was the famous Seneca Falls Convention that took place in 1848. It was the first national women’s right convention.
- 1940 – Adolf Hitler and Francisco Franco meet at Hendaye to discuss the possibility of Spain entering the Second World War.
Spain didn’t join the Axis because Hitler considered its demands too extreme. Here are Hitler and Franco at the railway station in Hendaye, France:
- 1955 – The people of the Saar region vote in a referendum to unite with Germany instead of France.
- 1973 – Watergate scandal: President Nixon agrees to turn over subpoenaed audio tapes of his Oval Office conversations.
Here’s one of the incriminating tape: Nixon and Haldeman discuss whether they can use the CIA to block an FBI investigation of Watergate:
- 1995 – Yolanda Saldívar is found guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of popular Latin singer Selena.
Here’s Selena in 1989 singing tejano music at the Tejano Music Awards. She was only 23 when she was shot, and her killer is still in prison, eligible for parole in 2015:
- 2002 – Chechen terrorists seize the House of Culture theater in Moscow and take approximately 700 theater-goers hostage.
Here’s a video of part of the siege. Although all 40 of the insurgents were killed, most of the 130 hostages who died were killed by a narcotic gas pumped into the theater by the authorities to knock out the attackers.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1491 (estimated) – Ignatius of Loyola, Catholic priest (d. 1556)
- 1844 – Sarah Bernhardt, French actress (d. 1923)
Two divine Sarahs:
- 1905 – Felix Bloch, Swiss physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1983)
- 1925 – Johnny Carson, American comedian and talk show host (d. 2005)
- 1940 – Pelé, Brazilian footballer and actor
Here are some highlights of Pelé’s career, though the film quality isn’t great:
- 1954 – Ang Lee, Taiwanese-American director, producer, and screenwriter
- 1960 – Randy Pausch, American author and academic (d. 2008)
Pausch, a professor of computer science, human–computer interaction, and design at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and gave the “Last Lecture” (that’s what the venue was named, but his was almost, but not quite, his last lecture). The lecture was given at CMU on CMU on September 18, 2007; Pausch died on July 28 of the next year.
- 1984 – Meghan McCain, American journalist and author
Those who lost the last of their nine lives (or however many they had) on October 23 include:
- 1872 – Théophile Gautier, French journalist, author, and poet (b. 1811)
- 1939 – Zane Grey, American dentist and author (b. 1872)
- 1950 – Al Jolson, Lithuanian-American actor and singer (b. 1886)
Jolson was born Asa Yoelson in a Jewish Lithuanian village. He’s infamous for his blackface portrayal in The Jazz Singer (1927), the first “talkie” movie, but he also fought against discrimination on Broadway. As we see so often, his legacy is complicated. Here he is singing in whiteface:
And here’s Mother Maybelle singing her signature song, “Wildwood Flower”, at the Grand Old Opry, accompanied by Flatt and Scruggs.
If you’re an American evolutionist, you’ll have seen Chick’s comics attacking science and evolution in favor of Christianity. He especially hated “professors” and Catholics (Chick was a Baptist). Here’s one of his panels:
And Chick himself:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Andrzej have a deep conversation. Malgorzata explains:
“Rationalism is not valued any more in many circles of many societies. Hili asks whether it has a chance to return to favor, but Andrzej is skeptical because of the irrational opinion of people even in their everyday lives (kitchen talks).”
Hili: Does rationalism have any chance?A: Lately it’s been in trouble even on the kitchen level.
Hili: Czy racjonalizm ma szanse?Ja: Ostatnio ma kłopoty nawet na kuchennym poziomie.
And little Kulka on a shelf. Do you think she’s related to Hili?
From Taner. The sign, in Turkish, apparently says, “Entry prohibited to cats who will not let themselves be petted.”
Bruce calls this a “groaner’ meme, and it is, but it’s also interesting:
Masih reports on women’s protests in Afghanistan. Yes, these women are brave and alive, but perhaps not long for some of them. . .
"We're not the women of 20 years ago"
The world might have forgotten brave Afghan women's fight against Taliban, but these women are alive and are as courageous as ever.
Demonstration of Afghan women today in Kabul against Taliban and poverty. pic.twitter.com/XBSLAqfphQ
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) October 21, 2021
From the Auschwitz Memorial:
Italian Jews: Adolfo & Rina Di Veroli
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) October 23, 2021
Tweets from Matthew: I showed you the first one yesterday, but look at the second tweet below! What’s wrong with this picture?
Good one this is still my fav. pic.twitter.com/Ca5NBZQBlM
— John Steven (@happyjersey) October 18, 2021
A capybara chilling with my favorite wild canid: the fennec fox (Vulpes zerda). They are also the world’s smallest canid, weighing in between 1 and 2 kilos.
Capybara and Fennec Fox pic.twitter.com/5ZagtTmLXd
— CAPYBARA MAN (@CAPYBARA_MAN) October 20, 2021
WHO’S a bad boy? How did this cat get stuck in a toilet?
fished this dude out of the thankfully unused, recently cleaned toilet earlier pic.twitter.com/OcW6b6kNCT
— Bo Bolander (@BBolander) October 19, 2021
Hear the sounds of Mars! Matthew orders you to put your headphones on before listening. But if there’s no microphone on Mars, is there any sound? (Answer: no.)
Sound on 🔊@NASAPersevere carries 2 microphones, which add a new dimension to the way we explore Mars. From wind gusts to the crunching of Martian soil under the rover’s wheels, find out how scientists and engineers learn from these recorded sounds: https://t.co/eAlPkw9iXD pic.twitter.com/bLeZuNuPCr
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) October 18, 2021
This population of jaguars on the Brazilian Pantanal lives almost exclusively on fish (see the paper). They even fish cooperatively!
New paper out on the ecology of jaguars supported almost exclusively by aquatic prey in @ESAEcology https://t.co/0PRAgSx57m
with @taaltree @CarlosPeres_ and many twitterless colleagues.
Here's a video of two adult males that played in front of the camera for 30 min. pic.twitter.com/JaqECxoj5N
— Charlotte Eriksson (@ceeriksson7) October 13, 2021
A mysterious tweet from Dr. McAlister that she clarified when Matthew inquired (below):
— Dr Erica McAlister (@flygirlNHM) October 17, 2021
— Dr Erica McAlister (@flygirlNHM) October 17, 2021