Good morning on the cruelest day of the week, for it’s Tuesday November 9, 2021: National Greek Yogurt Day. The thicker the better: I recommend Cabot Yogurt at 10% fat, which is hard to find in Chicago. I used to mix it with a bit of wild huckleberry preserves (available on Amazon and very good) for a dessert treat.
If you’re not in the South and can’t have grits for breakfast, have scrapple (if you’re in Pennsylvania). Scrapple is at 6 o’clock in the photo below:
News of the Day:
Very bad news reported by the New York Times (and pointed out by a commenter yesterday): there’s a new study on Arχiv showing that white-tailed deer in Iowa can contract the Covid-19 virus from humans and transmit it to other deer. Over 33% of wild deer tested in that location carried the virus. Researchers don’t know how the deer got the virus from humans (but they did, as the DNA sequence is very nearly identical), and they don’t know if humans can get the virus from deer. If the latter is true, then we have a wild reservoir for the virus and should start worrying now.
*I had forgotten about the missionaries who were kidnapped in Haiti, so I checked. The latest news I could find was from three days ago: the kidnappers sent video of the hostages, 16 Americans and one Canadian, to the Biden administration, which affirmed that, at least then, they were still alive. The members of the 400 Mawozo gang holding the hostages have threatened to kill them if the ransom of $1 million per hostage isn’t paid, and they won’t bargain. The U.S. policy is not to bargain, either, and the FBI is reportedly on the ground looking for them. The Washington Post has a general editorial on the issue: “More countries are taking Americans hostage. The U.S. is losing its ability to stop it.”
*This is what DNA is good for. From the Associated Press:
Two California couples gave birth to each others’ babies after a mix-up at a fertility clinic and spent months raising children that weren’t theirs before swapping the infants, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in Los Angeles.
Daphna Cardinale said she and her husband, Alexander, had immediate suspicions that the girl she gave birth to in late 2019 wasn’t theirs because the child had a darker complexion than they do.
They suppressed their doubts because they fell in love with the baby and trusted the in vitro fertilization process and their doctors, Daphna said. Learning months later that she had been pregnant with another couple’s baby, and that another woman had been carrying her child, caused enduring trauma, she said.
This being America, there is a lawsuit pending.
*Speaking of the virus, I’ve reported before about Van Morrison’s anti-vax sentiments, which he put into a song that he sang with Eric Clapton: “Stand and Deliver” (totally forgettable, by the way). Now the Northern Ireland minister of health is suing Morrison for defamation:
The Belfast-born singer opposes restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, and has released several songs criticizing lockdowns. He denounced Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann during a gathering at Belfast’s Europa Hotel in June after a Morrison concert was canceled at the last minute because of virus restrictions.
The defamation suit relates to three incidents in which Morrison criticized Swann, calling him “a fraud” and “very dangerous.”
Swann responded in an article for Rolling Stone magazine, calling the “Moondance” singer’s claims “bizarre and irresponsible.”
Swann’s lawyer, Paul Tweed, said proceedings “are at an advanced stage with an anticipated hearing date early in 2022.”
Those would probably be grounds for defamation in the U.S. as well.
*If you’re an avid follower of the MIT kerfuffle over Dorian Abbot’s disinvitation to speak, and want to know all the “deets”, as HuffPo calls them, here are two. First, there’s Williams College geoscience professor Phoebe Cohen, who responded to the cancellation by saying stuff like this (from the NYT).
Dr. Cohen agreed that Dr. Abbot’s views reflect a broad current in American society. Ideally, she said, a university should not invite speakers who do not share its values on diversity and affirmative action. Nor was she enamored of M.I.T.’s offer to let him speak at a later date to the M.I.T. professors. “Honestly, I don’t know that I agree with that choice,” she said. “To me, the professional consequences are extremely minimal.”
What, she was asked, of the effect on academic debate? Should the academy serve as a bastion of unfettered speech?
“This idea of intellectual debate and rigor as the pinnacle of intellectualism comes from a world in which white men dominated,” she replied.
For that racist statement she got drubbed on social media, closed her Twitter account, and has now written a whiny op-ed in Inside Higher Ed claiming that she was widely misquoted and has become “clickbait.” She argues that Dorian Abbot should accept the consequences of his “speech” that led to the cancellation, just as she had to accept the “harm” from social media. However, that speech was a critique of DEI and had nothing to do with Abbot’s MIT talk.
The same website published a critique of the cancellation, though, “Who comes after Dorian Abbot?” Author Alex Small says this:
Ultimately, attempted justifications for disinviting Dorian Abbot founder on the diversity of perspectives that are present in academic communities. The reality is that these varied and opinionated people work together productively despite disagreements, as we share a commitment to broad education for engaged citizenship. I have been privileged to learn from teachers, colleagues and friends who are Marxists and capitalists, atheists and fundamentalists, and people who straddle every other conceivable divide. When inviting scientific speakers, their opinions on controversial social issues should be as irrelevant as their preferred pizza toppings.
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 755,273, an increase of 1,226 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,073,945, an increase of about 7,000 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on November 9 includes:
- 694 – At the Seventeenth Council of Toledo, Egica, a king of the Visigoths of Hispania, accuses Jews of aiding Muslims, sentencing all Jews to slavery.
- 1620 – Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower sight land at Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
- 1862 – American Civil War: Union General Ambrose Burnside assumes command of the Army of the Potomac, after George B. McClellan is removed.
The term “sideburns” supposedly derives from Burnside’s name, and you can see why from his photo below:
- 1906 – Theodore Roosevelt is the first sitting President of the United States to make an official trip outside the country. He did so to inspect progress on the Panama Canal.
Here’s Teddy sitting inside a steam-powered digging machine on his visit to Panama. I just finished a terrific book on the building of the Canal: The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914 by David McCullough. Highly recommended! You won’t believe how incredibly difficult but ingenious that endeavor was.
The original rough diamond, 3,107 karats, was cut into nine gemstones, the two largest of which went into England’s royal scepter and royal crown. Read more about them here (source of photos and captions).
- 1938 – The Nazi German diplomat Ernst vom Rath dies from gunshot wounds by Herschel Grynszpan, an act which the Nazis used as an excuse to instigate the 1938 national pogrom, also known as Kristallnacht.
On “Crystal Night”, so called because of all the broken glass, Germans attacked synagogues, Jewish businesses, and Jewish homes. 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Here’s the remains of a synagogue in Berlin, though damage occurred throughout Germany:
- 1979 – Cold War: Nuclear false alarm: The NORAD computers and the Alternate National Military Command Center in Fort Ritchie, Maryland detected purported massive Soviet nuclear strike. After reviewing the raw data from satellites and checking the early-warning radars, the alert is cancelled.
- 1985 – Garry Kasparov, 22, of the Soviet Union becomes the youngest World Chess Champion by beating fellow Soviet Anatoly Karpov.
For you chess mavens, here’s an analysis of the final game:
- 1998 – Capital punishment in the United Kingdom, already abolished for murder, is completely abolished for all remaining capital offences.
- 2004 – Firefox 1.0 is released.
Notables born on this day include:
I read Turgenev but don’t think I’ve ever seen a photo. Here is one of him getting an honorary doctorate in 1879:
- 1886 – Ed Wynn, American actor (d. 1966)
- 1914 – Hedy Lamarr, Austrian-American actress and inventor (d. 2000)
Hedy Lamarr became famous from the film Ecstasy (1933), a Czech film in which she was tricked into appearing nude and then acted out the first orgasm in film history. She later became a stage and then a screen star for MGM, spending her last years as a recluse who communicated only by phone. Here’s poster for the movie, banned in many places and condemned by the Vatican:
- 1918 – Spiro Agnew, American soldier, lawyer, and politician, 39th Vice President of the United States (d. 1996)
- 1922 – Dorothy Dandridge, American actress, singer, and dancer (d. 1965)
Dandridge, a multitalented and beautiful singer, dancer, and actor, had an unhappy life and almost certainly committed suicide. Here’s a clip from one of her famous roles, Carmen Jones (1954), starring Harry Belafonte (can you spot him?) as well and directed by Otto Preminger, with whom Dandridge had a long affair:
His photo book, The Americans, is a masterpiece. This photo, from the book, is very expressive. Back of the bus!
A very good poet (not great, in my view) who also died young of suicide. Here’s a photo:
- 1934 – Carl Sagan, American astronomer, astrophysicist, and cosmologist (d. 1996) [see above]
- 1936 – Mary Travers, American singer-songwriter (d. 2009)
Here’s Travers singing the Dylan Song, “I shall be released,” in a trio with Joni Mitchell and Mama Cass on Cass’s television special in 1969. What a trio!
Those who went “home” on November 9 include:
- 1924 – Henry Cabot Lodge, American historian and politician (b. 1850)
- 1940 – Neville Chamberlain, English businessman and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1869)
Forever infamous for signing the bogus Munich Agreement, and then declaring “Peace in our time” right before WWII, Chamberlain died the year he resigned as PM. Here’s a photo of those at the Munich Agreement:
And Chamberlain waving the signed agreement in triumph as he returns to England:
- 1953 – Dylan Thomas, Welsh poet and author (b. 1914)
He’s one of my favorite modern poets. Here he is with wife Catilin in a pub:
- 1991 – Yves Montand, Italian-French actor (b. 1921)
- 2003 – Art Carney, American actor and comedian (b. 1918)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: We have a narrative for the two following cat photos. Malgorzata writes: “I washed the curtains and – because they are so huge – I draped the sofa with them to dry. Hili went to lie on the wet curtain.”
A: Hili, What are you doing?!Hili: I’m drying the curtains.
Ja: Hili, co ty robisz?!Hili: Suszę firanki.
More: “And there is a picture of Szaron behind the curtain (already hung back on the window).”
From Facebook; apparently an apostrophe was moved from “toucan’s” to “its”.
Another one from Facebook:
I may have posted this before. Titania recalls when the ACLU changed Ruth a Bader Ginsburg expurgating her references to “women” and changing them to “person”.
The following songs have been approved by the @ACLU. 🎶
“No [Person] No Cry” – Bob Marley
“I’m Every [Person]” – Chaka Khan
“Isn’t [They] Lovely” – Stevie Wonder
“Does Your [Birthing Person] Know” – ABBA
“Bring Your [Offspring With A Cervix] To The Slaughter” – Iron Maiden
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) September 23, 2021
From reader Paul. I’m not sure this is gratitude, but, as Jake said in The Sun Also Rises, “Isn’t it pretty to think so?” What a great guy to help the sloth!
Finally, the answer to the question “if you help a sloth cross the road, will they be grateful?” pic.twitter.com/MM9VPBEkEB
— Ben Phillips (@benphillips76) November 8, 2021
From Simon. I mentioned this yesterday, and find that Andrew Sullivan did the day before. Again we have a superfluous apostrophe, though.
— Andrew Sullivan (@sullydish) November 7, 2021
From the Auschwitz Memorial: Anne Frank was of course one of many Dutch Jewish children who died in the camps; she’s famous because, unlike Betsij Kaatje, who resembles Anne, Frank left a written record.
9 November 1930 | A Dutch Jewish girl, Betsij Kaatje van Geldere, was born in Tilburg.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) November 9, 2021
Tweets from Matthew; first another correlation/causation meme, but with a DUCK!
Correlation vs causation pic.twitter.com/Z8xiB5uwrO
— gavin jones (@ecologyofgavin) November 7, 2021
Do you know what a Scutigera is? Go here. This one is molting.
Feeling myriapodish today, so here's a Scutigera caught in the changing room pic.twitter.com/GCZW261z24
— Nicky Bay (@singaporemacro) September 24, 2021
How did this happen? Was a malefactor involved? But a nice man saved the kitten. As Matthew says, “If the whole world were like The Dodo, things would be a lot better.”
Sound up to hear the mews.
Guy saves the tiniest kitten tangled in string in his garden — then realizes the mama cat was watching and hoping the whole time 💗
— The Dodo (@dodo) September 24, 2021
Tweeted by Matthew himself: a gorgeous tree kangaroo.
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) September 24, 2021