Today is the Sabbath that is made for man (and woman and all genders): Sunday, November 7, 2021: National Chocolate Almonds Day. Meh.
If you didn’t set your clocks back an hour last night, do so NOW.
News of the Day:
*This doesn’t often happen in the U.S., though it does in Mecca. A crowd of 50,000 attending the musical Astroworld Festival in Houston suddenly surged forward during a performance by rapper Travis Scott. 8 people died, 11 had cardiac arrests (we don’t know how many of the former had the latter), and many were injured. This Associated Press article explains how crowd surges kill people. Often it’s simply asphyxiation.
And here’s a list of mortality records during crowd surges (religious festivals and soccer games are the main venues). The all-time record seems to be from 2015, when at least 2,411 Muslim pilgrims died in a crush during annual pilgrimage (the hajj).
*Given the number of federal appeals courts, this was bound to happen: one of them, in New Orleans, temporarily blocked Biden’s mandate for all workers in companies or establishments with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated or tested weekly (and wear a mask at work if they’re tested):
A three-judge panel on the New Orleans-based Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay prohibiting enforcement of the rules for now, saying they raise “grave statutory and constitutional issues.”
The Fifth Circuit said it would quickly consider whether to issue an injunction against the vaccine and testing requirements, ordering the Biden administration to file initial legal papers by late Monday afternoon.
If the court upholds the stay, this one’s quickly headed to the Supreme Court. I’m curious what the Big Court would do.
*Another federal appeals court, this one in Ohio, reversed a lower court by upholding a state law prohibiting a doctor from performing an abortion on a women if she says she is getting the abortion because she fears the fetus has Down Syndrome. The vote was heavily split, 9-7. This would seem to be an unconstitutional decision given that if the abortion is sufficiently early, prohibiting it (whatever the woman’s reasons) violates Roe v. Wade. But the judge said “nope”:
In the opinion, Circuit Judge Alice Batchelder, a George H.W. Bush appointee, wrote that Ohio had legitimate reasons for enacting the law that outweighed the “minor burdens” on a woman’s protected right to an abortion.
She wrote that Ohio had an interest in both protecting the Down syndrome community from the stigma associated with Down-syndrome-selective abortions and “protecting pregnant women and their families from coercion by doctors who advocate abortion of Down-syndrome-afflicted fetuses.”
This too appears headed for the Supremes.
*The NYT’s Maureen Dowd gets into the post election finger-pointing, but it’s too late: she’s not saying anything new, but just saying it with her patented snark. In fact, it sounds as if she phoned in her piece. Click on the screenshot to read.
She doesn’t seem to be a deep thinker, nor are her witticisms amusing:
We’ll see. So far, tiptoeing around Jabba the Trump has had limited utility. Despite everything, he still has great sway in the Republican Party.
And if the Supreme Court were to outlaw abortion and approve open carry on guns, that could scramble the equation all over again, sending moderate suburbanites back into the arms of Democrats.
*Over at the Observer, Kenan Malik discussed renamings of “impure” people, using as a prime example Imperial College’s recommendation to rename the Huxley building, originally honoring famed biology (and, for his era) progressive Thomas Henry Huxley:
It is difficult to know what the renaming of Huxley Hall would add to our understanding of the man, of his age or of racism. It is equally difficult to know how it would take away anything of the actual racism that black people face today. What we end up with is a Zuckerberg version of history in which symbolic gestures come to replace material change and in which rebranding becomes an all-purpose tool to avoid serious discussion.
History is akin to a continuous conversation with the past, a conversation that inevitably changes over time as values and beliefs change, and that inevitably reflects contemporary preoccupations, but cannot simply reflect contemporary preoccupations. Otherwise, it becomes an exercise in rebranding, not in enriching our understanding of the past or in helping ameliorate the present.
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 753,885, an increase of 1,215 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,062,229, an increase of about 6,000 over yesterday’s total.
Lots of stuff happened on November 7 including:
- 1504 – Christopher Columbus returns from his fourth and last voyage.
Here’s the last voyage, which left Columbus and his men stranded on Jamaica for a year. They curried favor with the locals and got supplies by accurately predicting a lunar eclipse using astronomical charts.
- 1775 – John Murray, the Royal Governor of the Colony of Virginia, starts the first mass emancipation of slaves in North America by issuing Lord Dunmore’s Offer of Emancipation, which offers freedom to slaves who abandoned their colonial masters to fight with Murray and the British.
- 1786 – The oldest musical organization in the United States is founded as the Stoughton Musical Society.
You can see a socially-distanced 2020 Christmas concert by the Society here.
- 1874 – A cartoon by Thomas Nast in Harper’s Weekly, is considered the first important use of an elephant as a symbol for the United States Republican Party.
Here’s the Nast cartoon (note the NY Times, depicted as a unicorn, running from the elephant):
- 1885 – The completion of Canada’s first transcontinental railway is symbolized by the Last Spike ceremony at Craigellachie, British Columbia.
Here’s Sir Donald Smith driving the last spike, ending the time in that fair land when the railroad didn’t run.
- 1907 – Jesús García saves the entire town of Nacozari de García by driving a burning train full of dynamite six kilometres (3.7 miles) away before it can explode.
Garcia was killed but he saved many lives. Here’s the account from Wikipedia:
Jesús García was the railroad brakeman for the train that covered the line between Nacozari, Sonora, and Douglas, Arizona. On 7 November 1907 the train was stopped in the town and, as he was resting, he saw that some hay on the roof of a car containing dynamite had caught fire. The cause of the fire was that the locomotive’s smokebox was failing and sparks were going out from the smokestack. The wind blew them and got into the dynamite cars. García drove the train in reverse downhill at full-steam six kilometers out of the town before the dynamite exploded, killing him and sparing the population of the mining town.
Here is Jesús riding a horse, supposedly a few days before he died:
- 1916 – Jeannette Rankin is the first woman elected to the United States Congress.
Rankin (photo below), a suffragist, served two widely-spaced terms in the House: 1917-1919 and 1941-1943. Since then no woman has been elected to congress from Montana. Her political career was effectively over when she became the only member of the House or Senate to vote against war on Japan on December 8, 1941, and abstained later from voting on going to war against Germany.
- 1917 – The Gregorian calendar date of the October Revolution, which gets its name from the Julian calendar date of 25 October. On this date in 1917, the Bolsheviks storm the Winter Palace.
- 1929 – In New York City, the Museum of Modern Art opens to the public.
- 1940 – In Tacoma, Washington, the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapses in a windstorm, a mere four months after the bridge’s completion.
Here’s newsreel footage of the bridge’s collapse; it was called “Galloping Gertie”:
- 1967 – Carl B. Stokes is elected as Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, becoming the first African American mayor of a major American city.
- 1972 – United States presidential election: U.S. President Richard Nixon is re-elected in the largest landslide victory at the time.
- 1989 – Douglas Wilder wins the governor’s seat in Virginia, becoming the first elected African American governor in the United States.
Here’s Wilder, who served four years but couldn’t run for reelection immediately as multiple terms are permitted only if they’re not consecutive.
- 1989 – David Dinkins becomes the first African American to be elected Mayor of New York City.
- 2000 – Controversial US presidential election that is later resolved in the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court Case, electing George W. Bush the 43rd President of the United States.
A history of that debacle from CNN:
Notables born on this day include:
- 1598 – Francisco de Zurbarán, Spanish painter (d. 1664)
He’s another of my favorite painters. Here’s his St. Francis (1640-1645):
- 1728 – James Cook, English captain, navigator, and cartographer (d. 1779)
- 1832 – Andrew Dickson White, American historian, academic, and diplomat, co-founded Cornell University (d. 1918)
Cornell was founded as a purely secular university, and White, an anti-theist, wrote this book, one of the ones I read before writing Faith Versus Fact. It’s been heavily criticized by believers and accommodationists, but it’s not at all worthless: the critics just don’t like the idea that science could conflict with religion. They’re wrong.
Curie was Polish, born in Warsaw with the name Maria Salomea Skłodowska. Here’s her official Nobel Prize photo; she was just 27:
- 1878 – Lise Meitner, Austrian-Swedish physicist and academic (d. 1968)
Meitner was snubbed by the Nobel Prize committee even though she made a huge contribution to a prize-worthy discovery: nuclear fission. Her collaborator Otto Hahn got it by himself. The photo below shows both of them:
Trotsky was born Lev Davidovich Bronstein to a Jewish family in a small Ukrainian village. Despite his contributions to the Revolution, he was never rehabilitated by the Soviets (Stalin had him assassinated in Mexico). I visited his house in Mexico City in 2012 and took many photos. As you can see, his house was a compound surrounded by high walls and a guard tower. He knew that Stalin was coming for him:
- 1913 – Albert Camus, French novelist, philosopher, and journalist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1960)
- 1918 – Billy Graham, American minister and author (d. 2018)
- 1943 – Joni Mitchell, Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist
Here’s Joni in 1998, petting Bill Clinton’s dog Budy in the Oval Office:
Those whose pull date was November 7 include:
- 1627 – Jahangir, Mughal emperor (b. 1569)
- 1907 – Jesús García, Mexican railroad brakeman (b. 1881) [see above]
- 1913 – Alfred Russel Wallace, Welsh-English biologist and geographer (b. 1823)
It’s a good thing you can’t be canceled for spiritualism, which Wallace embraced in his later years. I’m sure they’ll find some reason that he was ideologically flawed, though, as he was a Victorian. Here he is in Singapore in 1862:
- 1962 – Eleanor Roosevelt, American humanitarian and politician, 39th First Lady of the United States (b. 1884)
- 1964 – Hans von Euler-Chelpin, German-Swedish biochemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1863)
- 1980 – Steve McQueen, American actor and producer (b. 1930)
- 1990 – Lawrence Durrell, British novelist, poet, dramatist, (b. 1912)
It’s been years since I read his most well known book The Alexandria Quartet (1957-1960), which I read in junior high school. I liked it then but have no idea whether I’d like it now. A first edition with slipcovers, and boxed, will run you only $350:
- 1990 – Tom Clancy, Irish singer and actor, (b. 1924)
- 2011 – Joe Frazier, American boxer (b. 1944)
- 2016 – Leonard Cohen, Canadian singer-songwriter and poet (b. 1934)
Here’s the memorial in front of Cohen’s Montreal home five days after his death:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili pricks up her ears.
A: What are you doing?Hili: I’m changing my mind.
Ja: Co robisz?Hili: Zmieniam zdanie.
From Facebook, a picture of what is said to be not a polar bear, but an albino brown bear. I think it’s for real.
From Diana MacPherson:
From Bruce: This year’s winning Halloween costume, and it’s a doozy!
A tweet from her Wokeness, Titania McGrath:
Imagine being so insecure in your belief-system that you would be open to persuasion and debate.
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) October 28, 2021
This question from Richard Dawkins is a good one (I think I discuss it in Faith Versus Fact, too). Any world that wasn’t “governed by mathematics” would be chaotic, and in fact evolution, much less humans, would not be possible. Nor, perhaps, would matter itself. There must be regularities, and thus there must be mathematically described regularities.
Philosophers make heavy weather of the “deep mystery” of why mathematics is so well suited to explaining the universe & natural world.
But how could it not be so? What would a world look like if it were NOT governed by mathematics? What possible world would not be so governed?
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) October 29, 2021
Barry is disappointed that this parrot can’t sing the correct tune.
How hilarious 😆 Whomever taught the poor bird that song 👉🏼
Cannot hold a tune! 😂😂 🎼🦜🥰❤️👇🏽 pic.twitter.com/3onpqR8e90
— Respect Life 🌎❤️😷 #BLM (@koan4uu) November 6, 2021
From the Auschwitz Memorial: a Frenchman who lived about a month after arrival:
7 November 1906 | A Frenchman, Charles Bonnel, was born in Paris.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) November 7, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. First, a real rarity: a working cat!
Working farm cats always need to be in the middle of the action pic.twitter.com/u59b0h7IVW
— Bodacious the Shepherd Cat (@1CatShepherd) November 5, 2021
Three-dimensional projections in Tokyo. I’ve shown the kitty before, but not the spacecraft:
Of course, the giant calico kitty is still the highlight of Shinjuku! pic.twitter.com/0a9gbGV8Km
— Elizabeth Tasker (@girlandkat) November 6, 2021
Clearly Matthew was into cats yesterday as he traveled back from Spain:
This is what cat face looks like when a band of macaque monkeys appear outside your window 🐒 pic.twitter.com/nYVpX3k9Hx
— incidental naturalist (@IncNaturalist) November 6, 2021
Well, these are frog mating postures:
Tag yourself. pic.twitter.com/5R6cUjTnz6
— Jess Phoenix is your Volcano Friend 🌋 (@jessphoenix2018) September 26, 2021