It’s Friday, and the weekend draws near on this chilly November 12, 2021: National Pizza With the Works (Except Anchovies) Day. Indeed, who was the miscreant who had the idea of putting these malodorous fish on pizza, for crying out loud!
It’s also Chicken Soup for the Soul Day (better for the Stomach), Happy Hour Day, Fancy Rat and Mouse Day, French Dip Day (a French dip is a roast beef sandwich au jus, with gravy on the side for dipping), and World Pneumonia Day.
Here’s a luscious French dip sandwich avec frites et jus:
There is yet another Google Doodle today, celebrating the life of Johannes Vermeer (click on screenshot, and find the letters of “Google”. His life was short: from 1632-1675, but what works he created! He was neither born nor died on November 12, but C|Net says this:
Although only 35 of his paintings survive, Vermeer is considered one of the greatest artists of the Dutch Golden Age. To celebrate his talent, Google dedicated a Doodle to Vermeer on Friday — the 26th anniversary of the opening of an exhibition at Washington, DC’s National Gallery of Art featuring 21 of his works.
Greatest artists of the Dutch Golden Age? He is one of the greatest artists of all time.
News of the Day:
*Most of us have been wondering how long our Covid-19 vaccinations will protect us. The NYT has the latest on this in an article called “What we know so far about waning vaccine effectiveness.” The upshot is that the protection against infection wanes over months, but the protection against hospitalization and death wanes only very slowly. I’m not sure, though, that I agree with the first sentence here:
“The main objective of the Covid vaccine is to prevent severe disease and death, and they are still doing a good job at that,” said Melissa Higdon, a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who leads a project to compile research on Covid vaccine performance.
But the decline in protection against infection will have an impact, she added.
“With true declines in vaccine effectiveness, we’ll likely see more cases overall,” said Ms. Higdon.
I thought the main objective was to keep you from getting infected. Yes, I’m glad that, with my booster, my chances of hospitalization or death is slim, but I could still get sick and I could infect somebody else who might not be as protected. I suspect we’ll need a booster every year from now on.
*”What happened to Eric Clapton?” is the title of a new Washington Post article, referring to his anti-mask and anti-lockdown, and anti-vax stands (h/t: Merilee).
Interviews with more than 20 musicians and acquaintances who have known Clapton over the years, from his days in the Yardbirds to his most recent concerts in September, shed light on why he may have thrust himself into the covid debate. Among friends and collaborators, there’s hope that Clapton can repair the damage he’s done to his reputation. But their frustration is apparent.
“Nobody I’ve talked to that knows Eric has an answer,” says drummer Jim Keltner, who has known Clapton for 51 years. “We’re all in the same boat. We’re all going, ‘I can’t figure it out.’ ”
Well, that doesn’t shed much light on Clapton’s views, but maybe this does (it’s a long article):
“At one point, I said, ‘Eric, how are you doing?’ ” Feldman says. “And [Clapton] sounded kind of like a 17-year-old, if you will. He says, ‘I just don’t have anyone to play with.’ It was kind of real and heartfelt.”
This has emerged as the main theory as to why Clapton has responded so strongly to covid shutdowns. At 76 and with a long list of health problems — from nerve issues in his hands and legs to hearing loss — he can feel the clock ticking and is desperate to squeeze in as much playing as he can.
“That’s what he lives for,” Keltner says. “You can’t take [his] gigs away. It’s like breathing for him.”
Or not breathing. Well, they were forced to take his gigs away and his response—if the theory above be true—was to act like a petulant child, becoming an anti-vaxer and a terrible role model for others.
*Op-ed writer Charles Blow has a column in the NYT called “The War on Wokeness.” It’s about how the usage has changed so that the word is now derogatory. People like AOC say it’s an “old people’s word”, using James Carville as an example. Fine: as I quoted someone the other day, I don’t care what you call this kind of performative, ineffectual social justice “activism”, just give me a word. Blow’s ending:
The opponents of wokeness are fighting over an abandoned word, like an army bombarding a fort that has been vacated: They don’t appear fierce, but foolish.
Okay, give us a word, then! Blow also says this:
No wonder young people are abandoning the word. Opponents to the idea are seeking to render it toxic.
Shouldn’t that be “opponent of the idea”?
*Nikole Hannah-Jones, head of the NYT’s 1619 Project, has not only revised American Revolutionary War history, but now is revising World War II as well. Two tweets:
*According to the Guardian, Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins, a centenarian+ (she’s 105) has set the world record for the 100-meter dash for people 105 and over. Julia (h/t: Matthew)
Like all elite athletes, Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins has a ruthless streak. So, despite setting a 100m world record on Sunday at the Louisiana Senior Games, she still wants to go faster.
“It was wonderful to see so many family members and friends. But I wanted to do it in less than a minute,” the 105 year-old said after the race, where she recorded a time of 1:02.95, a record for women in the 105+ age category. When someone pointed out that 102 is less than her age and asked if that made her feel better, Hawkins answered: “No”.
Here you can see The Hurricane set the world record. I wish I were as hearty as her at that age. No, I wish I could even LIVE to that age!
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 759,310, an increase of 1,158 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,098,267 5,091,548, an increase of about 6,800 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on November 12 includes:
- 1439 – Plymouth becomes the first town incorporated by the English Parliament.
- 1892 – Pudge Heffelfinger becomes the first professional American football player on record, participating in his first paid game for the Allegheny Athletic Association.
What a name! Here’s Pudge in his Yale sweater; his first paid gig was with the Allegheny Athletic Association. He went on to become a successful coach and then died in 1954.
Here’s the dispirited group of British explorers at the South Pole, where to their dismay they found the remnants of Amundsen’s team, who had beaten them there. This was taken, I believe, with a strong. People: Oates, Bowers, Scott, Wilson and Evans. Not one of them made it back to base.
- 1927 – Leon Trotsky is expelled from the Soviet Communist Party, leaving Joseph Stalin in undisputed control of the Soviet Union.
- 1948 – In Tokyo, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East sentences seven Japanese military and government officials, including General Hideki Tojo, to death for their roles in World War II.
In 1945, Tojo shot himself in the chest as American soldiers tried to arrest him. He missed his heart, was restored to health, and then tried and hanged in 1948. Here’s Tojo after his unsuccessful suicide attempt:
Here’s a view of the island (captions from Wikipedia). I took a tour of it years ago, and if those are still on, it’s worth visiting. My maternal grandparents both passed through Ellis Island on their way from Eastern Europe and Russia (they hadn’t met yet):
And here it is in its heyday (1904):
And “radicals” waiting to be deported (1920). They were apparently apprehended in the U.S. and sent back to where they came from. I see but one woman.
- 1958 – A team of rock climbers led by Warren Harding completes the first ascent of The Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley.
The Nose was once thought impossible to climb, but Harding and his mates did it. Here’s the face and Harding climbing it. It took them four days. Lynn Hill, a woman, free-climbed it (the first ascent like that) in less than a day.
Harding climbing El Cap in 1970:
- 1969 – Vietnam War: Independent investigative journalist Seymour Hersh breaks the story of the My Lai Massacre.
- 1996 – A Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 747 and a Kazakh Ilyushin Il-76 cargo plane collide in mid-air near New Delhi, killing 349 in the deadliest mid-air collision to date.
- 2001 – War in Afghanistan: Taliban forces abandon Kabul, ahead of advancing Afghan Northern Alliance troops.
- 2003 – Shanghai Transrapid sets a new world speed record of 501 kilometres per hour (311 mph) for commercial railway systems, which remains the fastest for unmodified commercial rail vehicles.
This is the world’s fastest train, pictures below coming out of Pudong International Airport in Shanghai. The cruising speed is reported to be 431 km/h (268 mph).
Notables born on this day include:
- 1815 – Elizabeth Cady Stanton, American activist (d. 1902)
- 1840 – Auguste Rodin, French sculptor and illustrator, created The Thinker (d. 1917)
- 1908 – Harry Blackmun, American lawyer and judge (d. 1999)
- 1917 – Jo Stafford, American singer (d. 2008)
- 1929 – Grace Kelly, American actress, later Princess Grace of Monaco (d. 1982)
- 1934 – Charles Manson, American cult leader (d. 2017)
- 1945 – Neil Young, Canadian singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer
One of my favorite live performances by Young: “Old Man” in 1971 on the BBC:
- 1961 – Nadia Comăneci, Romanian gymnast and coach
Here are Nadia Comăneci’s performances on the uneven parallel bars at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, which won her the first perfect 10 in gymnastics in Olympic history.
- 1970 – Tonya Harding, American figure skater
- 1982 – Anne Hathaway, American actress
Those who hopped the twig on November 12 include:
- 1916 – Percival Lowell, American astronomer, mathematician, and author (b. 1855)
Here’s Lowell at his scope, which you can still see outside of Flagstaff:
- 1981 – William Holden, American actor (b. 1918)
Here’s the trailer for the 1954 film Sabrina, starring Holden, Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn:
- 1993 – H. R. Haldeman, American diplomat, 4th White House Chief of Staff (b. 1926)
- 2018 – Stan Lee, American comic book writer, editor, and publisher (b. 1922)
Several readers sent me this cartoon. I think it’s from the New Yorker but I’m not sure. Anyway, it’s a great cartoon.
From Bruce; an “ad” for the libraries of Vanderbilt University:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili and Andrzej have a philosophical discussion:
Hili: Leaves are falling and ants are hiding underground.A: That’s life.
Hili: Spadają liście, a mrówki uciekają pod ziemię.Ja: Takie czasy.
Over at Twitter, the beat goes on. I have popcorn but I’m staying in the audience. It looks like Bret, who (like Heather Heying) hasn’t been vaccinated because he thinks it’s dangerous, is walking something back. When Ivermectin eventually proves to be ineffectual, which is my guess, he’s going to do some very rapid back-walking.
I'd be impressed but this is coming from the "genius" who promoted Ivermectin as a treatment for Covid.
— Virtual Mountain | Fully Vaccinated (@virtmountain) November 9, 2021
Reasonable question. Please provide a link if you have, Bret. I would be overjoyed to credit you for an appropriate pivot.
— Sam Harris (@SamHarrisOrg) November 10, 2021
From Ken, who notes, “Here’s the candidate that Donald Trump has endorsed for the next US senate election in Pennsylvania.” He needs a course in evolutionary biology.
Who’s gonna tell him?
“It used to be, you know, women were attracted to your strength because you could defend them from dinosaurs.”pic.twitter.com/fxiCJLeNWL
— David Priess (@DavidPriess) November 9, 2021
From Simon, who adds, “I thought this was a cool illustration, I know this doesn’t show the LTRs [long terminal repeats], but it’s still amazing amazing how compact viral genomes can be. I’m sure computer code could be similar if there was appropriate selection pressure. Instead it’s more like a eukaryotic genome!” It is a very nice illustration. Note the dreaded spike protein at 9 o’clock.
Has everyone seen the stunning new graphic on the PDB webpage showing the SARS-CoV-2 genome and structures? Don't miss it. Great visual #structuralbiology https://t.co/V56B2AAhat pic.twitter.com/Xsed29D8Xd
— Dr. Miranda Lynch (@gammagirllab) November 10, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. First, an entire sperm whale is preserved in plastic:
— Tori Herridge (@ToriHerridge) November 11, 2021
Punctuation is important.
— Fiona McGowan (@FiScottMcGowan) November 9, 2021
This gets Tweet of the Month so far:
Seen on a toilet door. pic.twitter.com/VnU2smlPEa
— Alex Lowe (@alexlowe51) November 11, 2021