Good morning at the Hump o’ the Week: Wednesday, October 27, 2021. November will soon be upon us. It’s National Potato Day, but we cannot eat these things, I’m told by a reader, because it’s CARBS.
It’s also American Beer Day, National Black Cat Day, Boxer Shorts Day, Navy Day, World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, and Sylvia Plath Day, born on this day in 1932 (she killed herself at 30). Her grave is in Hebden Bridge, England:
News of the Day:
*The Democrat’s “tax the billionaires” strategy to finance their two massive trillion dollar plus bills may not work out. As the Washington Post reports, most of the money would come from just ten people, which, regardless of their wealth, doesn’t seem fair, though the proposed payers of the tax aren’t widely liked:
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said Monday he will “in a matter of days” release a tax on billionaires that economists and tax experts project could raise more than half of its revenue from just 10 people, including Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. (Bezos is the owner of The Washington Post.) Estimates vary widely on exactly how much money the plan would bring into federal coffers, in part because no such idea has ever been put into effect.
There’s an alternative, which may be less likely to be deemed illegal and is designed to win over Kyrsten “Get out of my stall” Sinema, who opposes a rise in corporate tax rates. For some reason I have a feeling that all of us are going to wind up paying more taxes.
*The Los Angeles Times deals with a question I’ve been asking myself lately: “what the deuce is Kamala Harris up to?” When she and Biden were elected, I had high hopes that she’d be an activist Vice-President in an activist administration, and perhaps a replacement for Biden in 2024. She was even put in charge of immigration at the southern border. But as far as I can see she’s done nothing there, and precious little elsewhere. The paper also notes that she’s not appearing much with Biden any more, though she used to be ubiquitous at his events. And her approval ratings are even lower than Biden’s. To wit:
The proximity fueled a sense that she would be part of an unusual partnership, “the Biden-Harris administration,” as it was branded.
But nine months in, Harris’ schedule reflects the life of a more conventional vice president, one who sees the president less often and spends more time selling the administration’s agenda in roundtables and day trips to reservoirs and classrooms, according to an analysis of her public events by The Times.
In other words, she’s a normal Vice-President. That didn’t stop Joe Biden from winning last year, but he had a Senate record and was running against Trump. If Harris is going to be the Democratic candidate in the future, she’ll need to step up her game.
*The NYT reviews a new biography of Winston Churchill that appears to be a book-length hit job:
In his new book, “Churchill’s Shadow,” Geoffrey Wheatcroft takes a literary spray can to the iconic World War II leader, attempting metaphorically at least to recast the many memorials and books devoted to Sir Winston over the years. Churchill, in this telling, was not just a racist but a hypocrite, a dissembler, a narcissist, an opportunist, an imperialist, a drunk, a strategic bungler, a tax dodger, a neglectful father, a credit-hogging author, a terrible judge of character and, most of all, a masterful mythmaker.
. . . “This is not a hostile account,” Wheatcroft insists, eschewing the term “revisionist” in favor of “alternative.” But other than the one bright spot in 1940, it is a withering assessment of Churchill’s life, his efforts to airbrush his legacy and the so-called Churchill cult that emerged after his death.
. . .If it feels as though Wheatcroft gives short shrift to the profound importance of Churchill’s courageous stand against Hitler, perhaps that is because he has written his book almost as an explicit rejoinder to Andrew Roberts, who celebrated that stand so expertly in his 2018 biography, “Churchill: Walking With Destiny.”
Small wonder that Roberts has already fired back in The Spectator, deriding Wheatcroft’s attack on Churchill as “character assassination” and taking issue with various factual assertions. “Never in the field of Churchill revisionism have so many punches been thrown in so many pages with so few hitting home,” Roberts wrote. They are, of course, taking different views of the same man. Roberts’s book was described in these pages as the best single-volume biography of Churchill yet written. Wheatcroft’s could be the best single-volume indictment of Churchill yet written.
The reviewer, trying not to take sides in the cancellation, ends by saying, “With statues, it is hard to see the complexity. Which is why we have competing books like these to help shape the debate as we edit the past.” Maybe, but couldn’t we just read one book that is balanced?
*A school for the deaf in Georgia is undergoing its own “racial reckoning.” According to the NYT, students at the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf, one of only two public schools for the deaf in Georgia, rebelled when they hired a white hearing woman as superintendent. (Most of the students are black or Hispanic.) Their wishes: a black and deaf President. After two weeks on the job, the superintendent quit and they’re looking for a replacement. I don’t fully understand deaf culture, so I have no opinion about this one. But the previous boss, a deaf Hispanic man, resigned after four years.
*Bebe Zito, an ice cream shop in Minneapolis (what is wrong with that town?) has created a new flavor: “Hannibal’s Dinner”, inspired by a viewing of “The Silence of the Lambs”:
. . . . Spangler and his wife/co-owner, designer Gabriella Grant, developed Hannibal’s Dinner: Ice cream made with chunks of braised veal brains, cookie dough-like foie gras, lemony fava bean cake mix, and a caramelized Chianti gastrique drizzled on top. “It’s deep, deep red,” Spangler says of the gastrique. “It looks like a slasher film.” But what does it taste like?
“It really is a mind trip in how savory it is,” Spangler says. “Even when I was eating it, I was like, ‘This tastes good, but it’s really messing with me.'” He describes the foie gras mousse as buttery and unctuous, and the brain chunks as salty.
“The thing that throws people off most initially isn’t the brain,” Grant says. “It’s a little bit more of a savory profile than people are acclimated to. I always preface it by telling people it’s going to be a little bit more savory, otherwise your brain has to recalculate for a second before really understanding what’s going on … The ingredients themselves aren’t weird as separates or in the more traditional application. But those things don’t seem like they belong in ice cream.”
Despite the out-of-your-comfort-zone flavor, customers are ordering it. “When someone walks in, you know exactly who’s there for brains,” Grant says. “They look super psyched. There’s this extra puff in their chest, and they’re super confident.”
This is a double scoop of “Hannibal’s dinner” without the drizzle of caramelized Chianti gastrique. (h/t Ginger K.)
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 739, 259, an increase of 1,401 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,981,291, an increase of about 8,700 over yesterday’s total. In three days the world death count will pass five million
Here’s the plot of new reported cases in the U.S. over time, showing a definite drop; let’s hope it’s permanent. Figures are 7-day averages:
Stuff that happened on October 27 includes:
Here’s the Oude Kerk (“Old Church” in Amsterdam, consecrated in 1306. As Wikipedia notes, “Rembrandt was a frequent visitor to the Oude Kerk and his children were all christened here. It is the only building in Amsterdam that remains in its original state since Rembrandt walked its halls.”
- 1682 – Philadelphia is founded in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
- 1838 – Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs issues the Extermination Order, which orders all Mormons to leave the state or be killed.
- 1936 – Mrs Wallis Simpson obtains her divorce, which would eventually allow her to marry King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom, thus forcing his abdication from the throne.
- 1954 – Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. becomes the first African-American general in the United States Air Force.
Here’s Davis being trained as a Tuskegee Airman in 1942. He later commanded fighter squadrons in Europe that compiled an admirable record of downing enemy planes. Davis was later appointed a four-star general by Bill Clinton:
- 1962 – By refusing to agree to the firing of a nuclear torpedo at a US warship, Vasily Arkhipov averts nuclear war.
- 1967 – Catholic priest Philip Berrigan and others of the ‘Baltimore Four’ protest the Vietnam War by pouring blood on Selective Service records.
A photo of the deed, for which he was sentenced to six years in prison:
- 1992 – United States Navy radioman Allen R. Schindler, Jr. is murdered by shipmate Terry M. Helvey for being gay, precipitating debate about gays in the military that results in the United States’ “Don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy.
- 2017 – Catalonia declares independence from Spain.
- 2018 – A gunman opens fire on a Pittsburgh synagogue killing 11 and injuring six, including four police officers.
The accused shooter, diehard anti-Semite Robert Gregory Bowers, is still in jail awaiting trial on both federal and state charges. It’s been three years!
- 2019 – Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant founder and leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi kills himself and three children by detonating a suicide vest during the U.S. military Barisha raid in northwestern Syria.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1782 – Niccolò Paganini, Italian violinist and composer (d. 1840)
- 1858 – Theodore Roosevelt, American colonel and politician, 26th President of the United States, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1919)
Here’s Colonel Teddy as a Rough Rider in the Spanish-American War. I’m reading about him now in a reader-recommended book about the construction of the Panama Canal, in which Teddy was instrumental:
And a short but very informative video about his life, with great movies of Teddy himself:
- 1914 – Dylan Thomas, Welsh poet and playwright (d. 1953)
I’m a huge fan of Thomas so here are three photos. First, he and his wife Caitlin (they fought like cats and dogs), and two photos I took in June, 2010: his house in Laugharne, Wales, his writing shed apart from the house, where he wrote his poetry and plays, and his grave nearby:
- 1923 – Roy Lichtenstein, American painter and sculptor (d. 1997)
- 1932 – Sylvia Plath, American poet, novelist, and short story writer (d. 1963)
- 1940 – John Gotti, American mob boss (d. 2002)
- 1972 – Evan Coyne Maloney, American director, producer, and screenwriter
No relation that I know of, but there’s a “Coyne” name there.
Those who croaked (and were not frogs) on October 27 include:
- 939 – Æthelstan, English king (b. 894)
- 1605 – Akbar, Mughal emperor (b. 1542)
- 1968 – Lise Meitner, Austrian-English physicist and academic (b. 1878)
- 1992 – David Bohm, American-English physicist and philosopher (b. 1917)
- 2013 – Lou Reed, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, and actor (b. 1942)
Here’s Reed (far left) with The Velvet Underground in 1968:
- 2019 – Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL); suicide (b. 1971)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili sees herself as the Felid Savior:
A: What are you thinking about?Hili: How to repair the world.A: And?Hili: I have a few good ideas.
Ja: Nad czym myślisz?Hili: Jak naprawić świat.Ja: I co?
Shhhh—Szaron is napping on his fluffy bed. It’s too small for both him and Hili, but Szaron loves it.
From Stash Krod. This is SO true!
From Lorenzo the Cat:
Wisdom from Ricky Gervais, who appears with his cat Pickle:
When I was really poor, I got so fed up having only T shirts and old sweat pants to wear, that I tried to make a suit out of curtains. Now I can afford to wear anything I want. So I wear T shirts and old sweat pants. Probably some moral to this story. Anyway, here's a cat. pic.twitter.com/yFxMKN4nex
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) October 26, 2021
From Simon, who says this is “a bit long but amusing”. I’m not sure whether this is a direct conversation (I doubt it):
“If you don’t like it – you can leave.”
This is perfection…pic.twitter.com/nC2tznAWYg
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) October 25, 2021
From the Auschwitz Memorial:
26 October 1933 | A Dutch Jewish girl, Henriëtte Emma de Lange, was born in Assen.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) October 26, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. This is bizarre. If “victims” is out because it implies guilt of the perp, then so does “rioters, looters, or arsonists,” which the victims weren’t convicted of being:
The judge in Kyle Rittenhouse's trial says lawyers cannot call the 2 people he killed "victims."
Rittenhouse killed 2 people and wounded another with an AR-15 style weapon. The judge says "victim" is too "loaded" but will let lawyers call them "rioters, looters or arsonists." pic.twitter.com/KqK73Z3ytN
— AJ+ (@ajplus) October 26, 2021
This is Torres del Paine National Park in the Patagonian part of Chile, and I’ve been here. One of the most stunning spots on Earth!
Each day is a gift. pic.twitter.com/bzTvKWGvp2
— Christopher Michel (@chrismichel) October 26, 2021
And this bat has a pacifier! (Those wing cells are sensitive to air currents.)
There's only a few days left before Halloween if you haven't cleaned your bat yet. pic.twitter.com/Fuu9Fej27a
— Paul Bronks (@slender_sherbet) October 25, 2021
The second one is a groaner. The way I’ve heard it is with “She: I don’t know, I’ve never kippled.”
He: Do you like Kipling?
She: I don’t know you naughty boy, I’ve never tried.
— Paul McAuley (@UnlikelyWorlds) October 17, 2021
I’ve likely tweeted it before, but here it is again (plus there’s an extra tweet today).
Irish and German people offering things pic.twitter.com/AoPgWJpK6L
— Killian Sundermann (@killersundymann) October 7, 2021