The work week has begun: it’s Monday, October 25, 2021: National Greasy Food Day. Have your vitamin G today! Doesn’t a burger with bacon, cheese, a fried egg, and fried onions sound good? Don’t forget french fries or onion rings on the side. Remember, as Julia Child once said, admonishing Jacques Pepin for removing fat from a salmon, “Jacques, food is not medicine.”
Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) is a gif celebrating the life and work of surrealist photographer Claude Cahun, born on this day in 1894 (died 1954). Claude’s birth name was Lucy Renee Mathilde Schwob and Cahun’s photos dealt largely with ambiguous gender: hence the Wikipedia article gives his pronoun a “they”. You can see some of Cahun’s works here.
News of the Day:
*Democrats are grinning because reports from Washington are that, after Biden met with key Democrats, including holdout Joe Manchin as well as Chuck Schumer, a deal on the $3.5 trillion social safety net bill is close to completion. But Biden hasn’t met with Kyrsten Sinema. Has he forgotten that he needs at least all 50 Democratic Senators to get this thing passed?
*The 17 missionary hostages in Haiti (16 Americans and one Canadian) remain in captivity, with the kidnapping gang, 400 Mawozo, still threatening to kill them all if the $1 million ransom per hostage isn’t paid. And although Biden says that he’s adhering to U.S. policy not to negotiate with hostage-takers, that is in fact not the policy. The government can talk to the kidnappers and even facilitate the paying of ransom, though the money doesn’t come from government funds. As the Washington Post reports:
With the government’s help, the hostages’ employer would appear the most likely candidate to pay the ransom demand. As an international organization operating in kidnapping hot spots around the world, Christian Aid Ministries is likely to have a kidnap and ransom insurance policy in case any of its employees are taken hostage. These types of insurance policies cover the cost of the ransom payment, provide a team of hostage negotiation experts, and help insured organizations offset other unexpected costs.
*The trial of Elizabeth Holmes for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud continues, and is expected to last several months. CNN summarizes this week’s abbreviated proceedings:
Things sped up by the end of the three-day court week, with jurors hearing from two witnesses for the government: a former Pfizer scientist, Dr. Shane Weber, who recommended the company not partner with Theranos, and a Theranos investor, Bryan Tolbert.
For the first time, jurors heard Holmes’ infamous voice, as the government played audio clips of a December 2013 investor call. Tolbert testified that he recorded the call before his firm decided to invest another $5 million in the company after first investing $2 million in 2006.
Before the day got underway Friday, a third juror was excused. The juror was released after telling the judge she was playing Sudoku during court proceedings to help her stay focused, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a court transcript. Only two alternative jurors remain, with the trial expected to stretch into December.
A juror fired for playing Sudoku! But, according to the Wall Street Journal, Weber’s testimony was damaging, showing that Holmes had forged a document with the Pfizer logo to show to investors, implying that Pfizer had endorsed her company, Theranos. It hadn’t. Weber, doing his homework on the company, found a pattern of omissions and lies, and Pfizer passed on the collaboration.
Here’s a poll for readers who know something about Holmes and Theranos:
* I wasn’t going to write about this originally, but David Klinghoffer at the ID creationist site “Evolution News” wrote a piece accusing me of hypocrisy because on the one hand I consider myself a free-speech advocate but on the other hand “canceled” Eric Hedin’s pro-ID course at Ball State University, a public school. In fact, Hedin’s course, by promoting Christianity in a general science course, was itself violating the First Amendment, and I simply called it to the school’s attention and wrote about it on this site. The local newspaper in Muncie and the University president canned the course. (Hedin, after getting tenure at Ball State, apparently has found a more comfortable niche at the evangelical Christian Biola University in Los Angeles.)
Pointing out a First-Amendment violation does not violate free speech, but the dumbasses at the Discovery Institute don’t seem to have realized that. However, the Sensuous Curmudgeon, who has more than two neurons, did, and wrote a piece taking apart Klinghoffer’s attack on moi, calling it “the most astonishing post we’ve ever seen at the creationist blog of the Discovery Institute.” It’s funny, too! (Note that some of our friends have commented at the end of the Curmudgeon’s piece.) Thanks, SC! (h/t Douglas). The Discovery Institute really has to get over its obsession with me; it’s not healthy! When you have no scientific facts supporting your cause, start going after the evolutionists!
*You wanna know what’s wrong with the NYT? Well, in their “television” column, they devote an entire article simply to reprising what Saturday Night Live, which was actually funny a few decades ago, broadcast lately. With clips. And transcriptions. No added value. Here’s a skit the NYT think is hilarious. Called “Jason Sudeikis returns to play Joe Biden on ‘Saturday Night Live,” it features a leaden clip of Bidens past and present:
The rest of the article reprises, in words, sketches that they show from SNL on YouTube. And that’s it! Since when did the Paper of Record become a “TV Guide”? Did they cut a deal to get paid for advertising the show?
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 736,112, an increase of 1,509 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,965,586, an increase of about 6,000 over yesterday’s total. The world total will surpass five million in roughly a week.
Stuff that happened on October 25 includes:
- 1415 – Hundred Years’ War: Henry V of England, with his lightly armoured infantry and archers, defeats the heavily armoured French cavalry in the Battle of Agincourt.
It’s the longbow, Jake! 6,000 French soldiers died, but only a tenth that number among the outnumbered English. 80% of Henry’s army (he led it personally) are said to have wielded the longbow.
- 1854 – The Battle of Balaclava takes place during the Crimean War. It is soon memorialized in verse as The Charge of the Light Brigade.
In this debacle (made famous by Tennyson’s poem), English forces were mistakenly ordered to mount a frontal assault on a strong battery of Russian artillery. Here’s a depiction from the time:
- 1920 – After 74 days on hunger strike in Brixton Prison, England, the Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney dies.
- 1940 – Benjamin O. Davis Sr. is named the first African American general in the United States Army.
Davis, Sr. was a forerunner, but according to Wikipedia had his duties limited and so isn’t known for accomplishing much. He was, however, father of Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., who led the Tuskegee Airmen, was the first brigadier general in the Air Force, and was eventually promoted to a four-star general by Bill Clinton.
- 1944 – World War II: Heinrich Himmler orders a crackdown on the Edelweiss Pirates, a loosely organized youth culture in Nazi Germany that had assisted army deserters and others to hide from the Third Reich.
They were not like the “White Rose” gang, but simply like to irritate the Nazis. Eventually a few were caught and executed, but there were a minor irritant to the Germans; nor were they pro-Ally.
- 1962 – Cuban Missile Crisis: Adlai Stevenson shows the United Nations Security Council reconnaissance photographs of Soviet ballistic missiles in Cuba.
Here’s one of the earlier U-2 reconnaissance photos shown to Kennedy on October 16:
- 1971 – The People’s Republic of China replaces the Republic of China at the United Nations.
- 1983 – The United States and its Caribbean allies invade Grenada, six days after Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and several of his supporters are executed in a coup d’état.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1838 – Georges Bizet, French pianist and composer (d. 1875)
- 1881 – Pablo Picasso, Spanish painter and sculptor (d. 1973)
Here’s “Cat Devouring a Bird” by Picasso (1939):
- 1888 – Richard E. Byrd, American admiral and pilot (d. 1957)
- 1891 – Charles Coughlin, Canadian-American priest and radio host (d. 1979)
Coughlin, deeply involved in American politics, had an immensely popular radio show—until he was forced off the air because he became fascistic and anti-Semitic. As the YouTube notes say:
Coughlin implied that an international bankers’ conspiracy was maneuvering to take over the world’s money markets and profit from everyone else’s misery. The Federal Reserve was a particular target of Coughlin’s fury, as he implied that Jews were manipulating the agency under Roosevelt’s “Jew Deal” to their benefit.
Here’s one of his rants:
- 1912 – Minnie Pearl, American entertainer and philanthropist (d. 1996)
Her real name was Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon, and here’s her signature greeting at the Grand Ole Opry, where she was a fixture for half a century:
Here’s Minnie’s signature hat, complete with price tag, on display at the Smithsonian:
- 1913 – Klaus Barbie, German SS captain (d. 1991)
Called the “Butcher of Lyon” for his supervising the murder of thousands of people (murders in which he sometimes participated), Barbie was actually helped by American intelligence after the war, who aided his flight to Bolivia. The French eventually brought him back, tried him, and sentenced him to prison for life. He died four years later. Barbie:
- 1941 – Anne Tyler, American author and critic
Tyler turns 80 today. Here she is eight years ago.
- 1944 – James Carville, American lawyer and political consultant
Who can’t like Carville except Republicans? Even if he’s strident, he’s amiable. Here he is in a 7½-minute video expatiating on wokeness (I love his Louisiana hat and his Louisiana accent):
- 1969 – Samantha Bee, Canadian-American comedian and television host
Those who took the Big Nap on October 25 include:
- 1400 – Geoffrey Chaucer, English philosopher, poet, and author (b. c. 1343)
Here’s a portrait of Chaucer by poet and painter William Blake:
- 1921 – Bat Masterson, American lawman, buffalo hunter, and sport writer (b. 1853)
Bat at 26:
- 1957 – Albert Anastasia, Italian-American mob boss (b. 1902)
- 1989 – Mary McCarthy, American novelist and critic (b. 1912)
- 2002 – Richard Harris, Irish actor and singer (b. 1930)
- 2014 – Jack Bruce, Scottish-English singer-songwriter and bass player (b. 1943)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron are going out together, but Hili’s the boss:
Szaron: Are we going to go or are we going to sit here?Hili: I haven’t decided yet.
Szaron: Idziemy, czy siadamy?Hili: Jeszcze nie podjęłam decyzji.
A FB post from Ricky Gervais and his cat Pickle:
I love fockses!
Curious foxes investigate camera on the grasslands of Inner Mongolia.
📽️ unknown; via Chinaanimals pic.twitter.com/JY8nllwQfD
— Char Adams (@_charadams_) October 24, 2021
From Gethyn. Check the picture carefully, clicking on it to see the full frame:
My mum is visiting this weekend and she has taken the absolute best photo of the cats. pic.twitter.com/W42lRnWQHY
— Andrej (@AndrejNkv) October 22, 2021
From Barry: check out the second tweet, showing a good citizen Green Crow (at least I think it’s a crow). I posted the first tweet yesterday, but haven’t learned how to post followup tweets as standalones.
Human need to learn a lot from animals 😻
— This Picture Speaks (@this_speaks) October 23, 2021
From the Auschwitz Memorial:
25 October 1923 | A Polish Jewish woman, Lina Blitz, was born in Nowy Sącz. During the war she lived in Antwerp.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) October 25, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. Here’s a cat who loves to be curled!
Just in case you thought that curling was only a winter sport. pic.twitter.com/C96f83dS0U
— Paul Bronks (@slender_sherbet) October 23, 2021
What a treat to find two cranes in your house! Who cares about bird droppings?
2 Red-crowned cranes (Grus japonensis) visited villager's house in Zhalong, Heilongjiang in Oct 23 morning.
Driving them out in surprise, the hostess complained #birds droppings on beds 😛@savingcranes @worldbirds32#nature #naturelovers #NaturePhotography #BirdsSeenIn2021 pic.twitter.com/u8bEYye7lj
— Linda Wong (@LindaWong1985) October 24, 2021
This is very sad. Poor pismire!
The saddest nature clip ever pic.twitter.com/w3Um48fIjt
— Steve Stewart-Williams (@SteveStuWill) October 22, 2021
Cat wins! I love it when they sneak up like this, surely an adaptive behavior from hunting:
The cat won.. 😅 pic.twitter.com/hsFbeRzZ1u
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden_) October 20, 2021