It’s the terminus of October: Sunday, October 31, 2021: National Caramel Apple Day (caution: beware of dental work!). And it’s HALLOWEEN (see below).
It’s also National Carve a Pumpkin Day, Books for Treats Day (very bad idea!), Girl Scouts Founders Day, Knock Knock Jokes Day, National Increase Your Psychic Powers Day (oy!), and Trick or Treat for UNICEF Day.
Here’s a knock-knock joke:
Owls say who?
Yes, they do.
There’s a Google Doodle gif for Halloween (click on screenshot):
And here’s a list of Halloween and its related celebrations:
- Allantide (Cornwall)
- Halloween (Ireland, Canada, United Kingdom, United States and other places)
- Hop-tu-Naa (Isle of Man)
- Samhain in the Northern Hemisphere, Beltane in the Southern Hemisphere; begins on sunset of October 31 (Gaels, Welsh people and Neopagan Wheel of the Year)
- The first day of the Day of the Dead, celebrated until November 2 (Mexico)
And here’s an excellent Halloween costume:
News of the Day:
*The Associated Press discusses how and why programs for the “gifted and talented” are being dismantled in secondary schools throughout America, all in the name of equity. The issue is that blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented in such programs compared to “regular” programs, and this inequity is considered prima facie evidence for present-day racism if you adhere to a Kendian agenda. Her are two of the critics of gifted and talented programs:
The changes don’t go far enough for critics like Rita Green, the education chair of the Seattle Chapter of the NAACP. She has called for more work to build environments that nurture the intellectual development of all the district’s 50,000 schoolchildren.
“We want the program just abolished. Period. The Highly Capable Cohort program is fundamentally flawed, and it’s inherently racist,” Green said.
. . .One such constituent, Zakiyah Ansari, the New York City director for the Alliance for Quality Education, wants Adams to follow through with de Blasio’s pledge.
“We believe every child is a gifted child, every child is a talented child,” Ansari said. “We have to have people as angry about taking away one program that impacts a few people and be more upset about the Black and brown kids who haven’t had access to excellent education.”
*The New York Times reports that three professors from the University of Florida have been barred from testifying for the prosecution in a lawsuit trying to overturn the state’s new restrictive voting rights bill. This is clearly a violation of both academic freedom and the First Amendment, but the University makes a specious claim:
University officials told the three that because the school was a state institution, participating in a lawsuit against the state “is adverse to U.F.’s interests” and could not be permitted. In their filing, the lawyers sought to question Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, on whether he was involved in the decision.
Mr. DeSantis has resisted questioning, arguing that all of his communications about the law are protected from disclosure because discussions about legislation are privileged.
The school has always let professors testify in court cases, even those involving criticism of the party in power in Florida, which is also “adverse to U.F.’s interests. I’m betting that DeSantis has pressured the University, saying that he’d withhold funds from the school if the professors testify. In the end, I think they will, for this is an open and shut issue. (h/t Bill)
*Also in the NYT, an op-ed by Tressie McMillam Cottom called “Why we should talk about what Kyrsten Sinema is wearing.” (That’s a clickbait title if ever there was one.) It turns out that the answer, for Cottom, is more a sociological one—though an interesting one—but has little to do with how we assess her politics, or of little use those who wish to change Sinema’s stand, which is obstructing Biden’s two funding bills.
*The dorm below would (and will be) be a dreadful place to live during college, especially because UCSB is one of the nicest campuses in the U.S. The Santa Barbara Independent reports this (h/t Matthew)
A consulting architect on [The University of Californa at Santa Barbara’s] Design Review Committee has quit his post in protest over the university’s proposed Munger Hall project, calling the massive, mostly-windowless dormitory plan “unsupportable from my perspective as an architect, a parent, and a human being.”
In his October 25 resignation letter to UCSB Campus Architect Julie Hendricks, Dennis McFadden ― a well-respected Southern California architect with 15 years on the committee ― goes scorched earth on the radical new building concept, which calls for an 11-story, 1.68-million-square-foot structure that would house up to 4,500 students, 94 percent of whom would not have windows in their small, single-occupancy bedrooms.
The idea was conceived by 97-year-old billionaire-investor turned amateur-architect Charles Munger, who donated $200 million toward the project with the condition that his blueprints be followed exactly. Munger maintains the small living quarters would coax residents out of their rooms and into larger common areas, where they could interact and collaborate.
Here’s the horrible dorm, and its floor plan below that. Crikey, would you want to live there for four years?
The architect who resigned said the dorm “would qualify as the eighth densest neighborhood on the planet, falling just short of Dhaka, Bangladesh. It would be able to house Princeton University’s entire undergraduate population, or all five Claremont Colleges. . . The project is essentially the student life portion of a mid-sized university campus in a box.”
The University is going to build it anyway! Usually money is given to universities without such strict conditions. Jebus!
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 745,374, an increase of 1,344 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,012,328, an increase of about 5,400 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on October 31 includes:
- 1517 – Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther posts his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.
It’s a Lutheran Church now, and Martin is buried inside. Here’s his tomb.
The famous doors seem to be gone, but in truth the claim that Luther posted his manifesto on them is questionable. But they built these ones below, described in Wikipedia as “‘Theses Doors’, commemorating Luther’s Ninety-five Theses were installed on Luther’s 375th birthday in 1858.”
- 1907 – The Parliament of Finland approved the Prohibition Act, but the law was not implemented because it was not ratified by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.
- 1917 – World War I: Battle of Beersheba: The “last successful cavalry charge in history”.
Here’s a photo of the attack, which took place in what is now southern Israel. Reinforced by later troops, it ultimately led to the British capture of Jerusalem. Note that the first wave of attackers brandished only bayonets as they charged; the rifles are on their backs.
- 1922 – Benito Mussolini is made Prime Minister of Italy
- 1923 – The first of 160 consecutive days of 100° Fahrenheit at Marble Bar, Western Australia.
Here’s where Marble Bar is (there are stromatolites nearby!), and then a view of that godforsaken town. (Read the NYT article on what it’s like to live there).
But it’s not the hottest town in Australia! That honor goes to Wyndham, Western Australia, located on the map below with a picture of that town, where “In 1946, Wyndham recorded 333 consecutive days of temperatures over 32 °C (90 °F).” The population is 780 sweating Aussies.
- 1940 – World War II: The Battle of Britain ends: The United Kingdom prevents a possible German invasion.
- 1941 – After 14 years of work, Mount Rushmore is completed.
Can you name all four figures sculpted on the mountain? This wouldn’t be done today, because at least three of them have had statues taken down or have been cancelled.
Here’s the designer, Gutzon Borglum, addressing a crowd before the sculpture in statu nascendi:
- 1961 – In the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin’s body is removed from the Lenin’s Mausoleum, also known as the Lenin Tomb.
- 1984 – Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by two Sikh security guards. Riots break out in New Delhi and other cities and around 3,000 Sikhs are killed.
A photo from Wikipedia labeled: “Today, the spot where Indira Gandhi was assassinated is marked by a glass opening in the crystal pathway at the Indira Gandhi Memorial”:
- 1999 – Yachtsman Jesse Martin returns to Melbourne after 11 months of circumnavigating the world, solo, non-stop and unassisted.
He was the youngest person to accomplish this feat though not the first. Here’s a short video of Martin:
- 2011 – The global population of humans reaches seven billion. This day is now recognized by the United Nations as the Day of Seven Billion.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1638 – Meindert Hobbema, Dutch painter (d. 1709)
- 1795 – John Keats, English poet (d. 1821)
Keats died at only 25 of tuberculosis. What great poetry we’d have had he lived longer. Here’s a life mask from 1816 followed by a photo of Keats’s grave in Rome (note that his name isn’t on the tombstone).
- 1835 – Adolf von Baeyer, German chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1917)
- 1887 – Chiang Kai-shek, Chinese general and politician, 1st President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) (d. 1975)
- 1912 – Dale Evans, American singer-songwriter and actress (d. 2001)
- 1920 – Helmut Newton, German-Australian photographer (d. 2004)
Many of Newton’s photos are too erotic to be shown on this family-oriented site; here’s one of the tamer ones:
- 1922 – Illinois Jacquet, American saxophonist and composer (d. 2004)
- 1926 – Jimmy Savile, English radio and television host (d. 2011)
- 1931 – Dan Rather, American journalist
Rather turns 90 today.
- 1943 – Brian Piccolo, American football player (d. 1970)
- 1967 – Vanilla Ice, American rapper, television personality, and real estate investor
Those who died on October 31 include:
Thomas Aquinas by Bartolomeo:
- 1806 – Kitagawa Utamaro, Japanese artist and printmaker (b. ca. 1753)
Utamaro: A Woman and a Cat (1793-1794)
I never really encountered the work of Schiele until I visited the Leopold Museum in Vienna, where I was mesmerized by his paintings. I now consider him one of the very greatest modern artists. Below is a photo I took of one of his paintings when I visited in October, 2012. This is “Self Portrait With Lowered Head” (1912).
Schiele died at only 28, another great loss to art. He succumbed of the Spanish flu in the fall of 1918, only three days after his wife died. And that’s about the time my paternal grandmother died in the same epidemic.
- 1926 – Harry Houdini, American magician and stuntman (b. 1874)
- 1984 – Indira Gandhi, Indian politician, Prime Minister of India (b. 1917)
- 1988 – John Houseman, Romanian-born American actor, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1902)
- 1993 – River Phoenix, American actor and singer (b. 1970)
- 2006 – P. W. Botha, South African soldier and politician, State President of South Africa (b. 1916)
- 2008 – Studs Terkel, American historian and author (b. 1912)
- 2020 – Sean Connery, Scottish actor (b. 1930)
Connery in Scottish regalia, complete with family tartan and a sporran.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has her encounter with Kulka, but Kulka doesn’t back down.
Hili: Get away from here!Kulka: And what are you going to do to me if I don’t?
Hili: Uciekaj stąd!Kulka: A jak nie ucieknę to co mi zrobisz?
And, in nearby Wloclawek, both Leon and Mietek have monologues. Leon demands approbation, while Mietek orders his staff around.
Leon: And now start to admire my wisdom.
Mietek, sitting on papers that Elzbieta is supposed to grade, prods her to get to work.
Mietek: Keep reading!
Clever pumpkin carving all over Facebook:
A meme from Bruce:
Titania’s new piece speculates about how Gandhi would have dealt with trans people:
Mahatma Gandhi would have been a trailblazer for genderqueer rights if xe were alive today.
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) October 29, 2021
Masih continues her battle:
Clerics in Iran grabbed power 42 years ago claiming to stand for the poor & oppressed. This is how it they've been dealing with the poor & oppressed while their kids live in luxury
Iyad Kiyani, a municipal worker, was brutally beaten for asking for his unpaid salary of 6 months pic.twitter.com/KCsFSicXUo
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) October 28, 2021
From the British Museum: Proof of love in the olden days. Nowadays this would be locked to the the Pont des Arts bridge over the Seine.
♥ ‘de tout mon coeur’ – ‘with all my heart’ ♥
This miniature gold enamelled padlock locket is engraved with a romantic message in French, and was made in the late medieval period, between 1400–64 ✨
— British Museum (@britishmuseum) October 25, 2021
From the Auschwitz Memorial:
31 October 1936 | An Austrian Jewish boy, Peter Blödy, was born in Vienna.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) October 30, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. This first one feature innovative drumming by Ringo. Who knew? Do listen if you’re a Beatles fan.
As someone who doesn’t understand much about music, and who doesn’t especially get the Beatles, this made me do a lovely “Ahhhh!” pic.twitter.com/qeUtCJCcsy
— Andrew Ellard (@ellardent) October 29, 2021
Matthew says that this is a great figure. It is.
Superb illustration showing some of the life that depends on deadwood.
You can get it here.https://t.co/xlCBbVnwFL
🎨Jeroen Helmer/ARK Nature pic.twitter.com/GVRTvXQ9B2
— Ross Piper (@DrRossPiper) October 30, 2021
A needy dog begs for affection:
Always begs the cat for the kisses. pic.twitter.com/E4560FBNJ6
— SCIENCE & NATURE (@SCIENCEandtheN1) January 7, 2020
Can CRISPR do this?
My son is still dreaming up his DNA experiments. This is a cat spliced with red squirrel DNA. It’s a cat but with a fantastically bushy squirrel tail. pic.twitter.com/VtbYOXhXiu
— Raymond (@raubrey) October 5, 2021