It’s felid Sabbath again, Saturday October 30, 2021, and oh, dear lord, it’s National Candy Corn Day. Fie on the miscreant who concocted this tooth-jarring confection made solely of paraffin, artificial color, and sugar!!!!! Not one kernel of this faux and toxic corn will pass my lips for the rest of my life.
Here is an appropriate cartoon from The Oatmeal (h/t Erik and several other readers):It’s also Buy a Doughnut Day, Pumpkin Bread Day, and, by way of contrition, Sugar Addiction Awareness Day. And let’s not forget Hug a Sheep Day and Mischief Night. Also, tomorrow is Halloween, though I suspect some kids will come scrounging for candy tonight.
Wine of the Day: Now here’s a biodynamic (basically, organic) wine that’s infinitely better than c*ndy c*rn, an 11-year-old syrah from the famed Stellenbosch region of South Africa. (I almost never have a South African wine, which is surely a mistake.) When I bought it and how much I paid is lost in the mists of time (it’s now quoted at $25), but the critics like it (Robert Parker gave it a 94, saying “This is a glorious Syrah from one of South Africa’s finest winemakers. This is world class. Drink now-2020,” while the overly generous Wine Spectator, usually giving higher scores, gave it just a 91; and the regular folks at Cellar Tracker say it’s holding up well. I will try it within the hour with a honking big porterhouse steak with rice and black beans.
. . . . It was very good, though not “world class”, but perhaps because it’s a wee bit past its apogee. The tannins are gone but it shows no oxidation; a bit of its stuffing is, however, gone. Keep a lookout for younger vintages, however. It improved in the glass over half an hour, so today’s half-bottle will be interesting.
News of the Day:
Two vaccine stories: First, the FDA has authorized emergency use Pfizer vaccinations for children 5-11 years old. My own opinion, though I have no offspring, is to get your kids vaccinated pronto. The side effects have proven so far to be minimal—and no reports of heart problems. The mortality rate from the virus is infinitely higher than from the vaccination, so get your kids signed up now.
*Second, in a decision that surprised me, the Supreme Court has refused to block Maine’s vaccination mandate for healthcare workers, even though that mandate did not allow religious exemptions. Three judges dissented: Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch. And the dissent was based on the religion issue:
“Where many other states have adopted religious exemptions, Maine has charted a different course,” Justice Gorsuch wrote for the dissenting justices. “There, health care workers who have served on the front line of a pandemic for the last 18 months are now being fired and their practices shuttered. All for adhering to their constitutionally protected religious beliefs. Their plight is worthy of our attention.”
Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and the health of the general public is Caesar’s, not God’s. If it were God’s, we wouldn’t have the pandemic in the first place.
*At 95, it’s about time for Queen Elizabeth to slow down. Much as I decry the existence of royalty in the UK as a special class, you have to hand it to the old bird that she takes her duties very seriously. Now, though, after a night in the hospital last week, doctors have ordered her to rest for at least two weeks, and she’s cancelled all her appointments. It’s time for her to retire and hand over the reins to Prince Charles, dimwitted though he may be. He’s been waiting for a long time!
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 745,075, an increase of 1,366 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,006,932, an increase of about 8,300 over yesterday’s total. We’ve now passed five million people dead from the disease.
Stuff that happened on October 30 includes:
- 1831 – Nat Turner is arrested for leading the bloodiest slave rebellion in United States history.
- 1938 – Orson Welles broadcasts a radio adaptation of H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds, causing a massive panic in some of the audience in the United States.
The broadcast is below. My dad remembers this (he was 20 then), and tells me about people running around the streets in a frenzy.
- 1942 – World War II: Lt. Tony Fasson and Able Seaman Colin Grazier drown while taking code books from the sinking German submarine U-559.
They volunteered to jump into the sub and find the code books, but water was pouring in and it was completely dark. Suddenly the sub sank, killing both of them, but not until they transferred sheets of code to sailors in a small boat. Brave men!
- 1944 – Holocaust: Anne and Margot Frank are deported from Auschwitz to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where they die from disease the following year, shortly before the end of WWII.
Anne (right) and Margot Frank. If you’re in Amsterdam, try to see the “annexe” where they and their family hid away. You’ll have to reserve in advance now; it’s very popular.
PICTURE REMOVED BY REQUEST OF ANNE FRANK FOUNDATION
- 1945 – Jackie Robinson of the Kansas City Monarchs signs a contract for the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking the baseball color line.
Here’s Jackie, who turned out to be a fantastic player in the majors, eventually entering the Hall of Fame. Here he is signing the contract while Branch Rickey (nicknamed “The Mahatma”) looks on. Note Rickey’s cigar:
- 1961 – The Soviet Union detonates the Tsar Bomba, the most powerful explosive device ever detonated.
Somebody find out how much more powerful this bomb was than the ones we dropped on Japan. Two planes were there, and Wikipedia says this about the one that dropped the bomb:
Both aircraft were painted with special reflective paint to minimize heat damage. Despite this effort, Durnovtsev, and his crew, were given only a 50% chance of surviving the test.
They survived, but the reflective paint was scorched, even though the planes were a considerable distance away when the bomb detonated.
Here’s Russian footage of the explosion, previously classified but released after many years. Below that is a map of where where the Bomba was dropped:
The mushroom cloud as it looked 161 km (ca 100 miles) away:
- 1961 – Due to “violations of Vladimir Lenin’s precepts”, it is decreed that Joseph Stalin‘s body be removed from its place of honour inside Lenin’s tomb and buried near the Kremlin Wall with a plain granite marker.
This is what Stalin gets now, but also a bust:
- 1983 – The first democratic elections in Argentina, after seven years of military rule, are held.
- 1995 – Quebec citizens narrowly vote (50.58% to 49.42%) in favour of remaining a province of Canada in their second referendum on national sovereignty.
That was a squeaker! My Canadian friends tell me there’s unlikely to be another such referendum, but what do I know?
Notables born on this day include:
- 1632 – Christopher Wren, English physicist, mathematician, and architect, designed St Paul’s Cathedral (d. 1723)
- 1735 – John Adams, American lawyer and politician, 2nd President of the United States (d. 1826)
A contemporary portrait of Adams by Gilbert Stuart:
- 1839 – Alfred Sisley, French-English painter (d. 1899)
Here are DUCKS by Alfred Sisley:
- 1871 – Paul Valéry, French poet and philosopher (d. 1945)
- 1885 – Ezra Pound, American poet and critic (d. 1972)
Pound was arrested for treason in 1945 after making anti-American broadcasts in Italy during WWII. As Wikipedia notes:
Styling himself “Dr Ezra Pound” (his only doctorate was the honorary one from Hamilton College), he attacked the United States, Roosevelt, Roosevelt’s family, Churchill, and the Jews. He praised Hitler, recommended eugenics to “conserve the best of the race”, and referred to Jews as “filth”. The broadcasts were monitored by the United States Foreign Broadcast Monitoring Service, and on 26 July 1943 the United States District Court for the District of Columbia indicted Pound in absentia for treason. According to Feldman, the Pound archives at Yale contain receipts for 195 payments from the Italian Ministry of Popular Culture from 22 April 1941 to 26 January 1944. Over 33 months, Pound received 250,000 lire (then equivalent to $12,500; $185,000 as of 2013).
Man, if that’s not enough to get his poetry cancelled, I don’t know what is. But of course I don’t favor that; he was a great poet, even though he went a bit bonkers toward the end. (He was kept in St. Elizabeth’s mental hospital from 1945-1958.) Pound heavily edited The Waste Land at T. S. Eliot’s request, reducing it by 50%, with the result that Eliot dedicated the poem to him, using an Italian phrase that I also used in the dedication of Why Evolution is True.
Pound in 1913, when he was about 28:
His mug shot in 1945:
- 1893 – Charles Atlas, Italian-American bodybuilder (d. 1972)
Remember this comic adveritising Atlas’s bodybuilding program? It was everywhere!
- 1893 – Roland Freisler, German soldier, lawyer, and judge (d. 1945)
Freisler, the Nazi judge, was a bad piece of work, and sentenced everyone to death. He loved to shout in court. Freisler was eventually killed by an American bomb falling on the courthouse. Here’s the judge in action:
- 1900 – Ragnar Granit, Finnish-Swedish physiologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1991)
- 1932 – Louis Malle, French director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1995)
- 1935 – Robert Caro, American journalist and author
We’re all hoping he lives at least long enough to finish his biography of Lyndon Johnson. Do read his brilliant biography of Robert Moses, The Power Broker.
- 1939 – Grace Slick, American singer-songwriter and model
- 1960 – Diego Maradona, Argentinian footballer, coach, and manager (d. 2020)
Maradona died last November. Here are some highlights of his career:
- 1981 – Ivanka Trump, American model and businesswoman
Those who “passed” (I dislike that euphemism)on October 30 include:
- 1923 – Bonar Law, Canadian-English banker and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1858)
- 1988– T. Hee, American animator and screenwriter (b. 1911).
His real name was Thornton he, but he was always credited as “T. Hee”, surely as a jest. Here’s a piece T. Hee designed, the “Dance of the Hours” from Disney’s “Fantasia”:
- 2000 – Steve Allen, American actor, television personality, game show panelist, and talk show host (b. 1921)
- 2007 – Robert Goulet, American actor and singer (b. 1933)
What a pity that Goulet, who starred in the Broadway version of Camelot, didn’t play Sir Lancelot in the movie (he was replaced by Franco Nero). Here he is singing (to Queen Guenevere) one of the great songs from that musical. My parents loved it, so I heard the original cast album repeatedly as a child. They don’t write songs like this for Broadway any more.
- 2009 – Claude Lévi-Strauss, French anthropologist and ethnologist (b. 1908)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is The Cat That Walks by Herself:
A: What are you doing?Hili: I revel in solitude.
Ja: Co robisz?Hili: Rozkoszuję się samotnością.
More on costume appropriation this weekend. From Bruce:
From Facebook, a recipe for deviled eggs:
Titania is busy tweeting again:
Kudos to these Canadian libraries for removing copies of “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. ✊👏
If we don’t erase such harmful books, we could end up in some twisted dystopia where people think that only women give birth. pic.twitter.com/fKr0dRRazk
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) October 28, 2021
Now this should be an interesting book. The man is inexhaustible. This one’s out November 11, and the U.S. Amazon link is here.
— Head of Zeus (@HoZ_Books) October 22, 2021
From Masih, who is correct:
I told De Telegraph:
'Western politicians are hypocritical and cowardly' when it comes to human rights in Iran. While Iranian women resist compulsory hijab, we see female politicians bowing to our oppressors with hijab. For us it’s like getting stabbed in the back. @wierdduk pic.twitter.com/WizU2q2xlJ
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) October 29, 2021
Tweets from Matthew (if you ain’t got wildlife photos, send a tweet or two). First, Matthew says of this one “d*gs, but still . . . ”
all dog costumes should have fake arms so the front paws are the feet. i realize this now. pic.twitter.com/efpS5aQ8zz
— amber rollo (@ambercrollo) October 29, 2021
No, this does not provide hope for recovery because the parthenogenesis produces completely homozygous individuals, i.e. completely inbred. Both condors were sickly and died early. See the “news” above for a reference. Notice the “condor hand puppet” they use to feed the chicks.
Scientists at SDZWA discovered two California condor chicks have hatched from unfertilized eggs. This sort of asexual reproduction, known as parthenogenesis, is a first for the species and provides new hope for their recovery. Read more: https://t.co/m5MZhqt21l pic.twitter.com/vRxGbKZy2S
— San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (@sandiegozoo) October 28, 2021
What a wonderful surprise!
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the woods… pic.twitter.com/HLvPZ0dbrw
— Dick King-Smith HQ (@DickKingSmith) October 29, 2021
These calves are having a fine romp!
I'll leave you tonight with the 50m dash. 😁 pic.twitter.com/9vJmDpyT9T
— IrelandsFarmers (@IrelandsFarmers) October 28, 2021
This is fascinating:
— BBC Archive (@BBCArchive) October 27, 2021