It’s Saturday, a Sabbath for felids, and the weekend is here on this chilly November 13, 2021: National Indian Pudding Day. To me, this uniquely American dessert is one of the best of the world’s treats, but you rarely find it. My favorite version used to be at the Durgin-Park restaurant in Boston, but, tragically, it went out of business a few years ago. The pudding, made from cornmeal, molasses, butter, and spices, has a unique earthy flavor that comes from its ingredients. Not everyone likes it, but everyone should try it. A good recipe is here. It is best eaten warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting on top: the way Durgin-Park used to serve it. (I hear the pudding is still on offer at the nearby Union Oyster House). This is how it looks:
It’s also Actor’s Day (which actor?), Wine Tourism Day, Sadie Hawkins Day, and World Kindness Day. You will recall Sadie Hawkins Day if you’re old enough to remember the Li’l Abner comic strip, which depicted the annual day when, in a reversal of roles, the women of Dogpatch chase after the men:
News of the Day:
*As I expected (and hoped), a federal grand jury indicted Steve Bannon yesterday on two contempt of Congress charges. Can he avoid jail by giving in and testifying? Would he even do that, given that it would anger his pal Trump? Bannon is expected to turn himself in on Monday and perhaps appear in court later that day. From the NYT:
The politically and legally complex case was widely seen as a litmus test for whether the Justice Department would take an aggressive stance against one of Mr. Trump’s top allies in a matter that legal experts said was not settled law.
This refers to Bannon’s (and Trump’s) claims that their testimony and papers are protected by “executive privilege.” For a reader’s pessimistic analysis of the situation (i.e., nothing happens to Bannon), see yesterday’s comment by David Jorling.
*Perhaps we’ll see an end to the Kyle Rittenhouse trial very soon. Highlights: Rittenhouse’s dramatic breakdown on the stand, the admission of one of his victims that he (the victim) was already pointing a gun at Rittenhouse when the latter fired, and the repeated and heated clashes between the judge and the prosecution. I’m betting Rittenhouse will be found not guilty—if the judge doesn’t declare a mistrial before the verdict. Rittenhouse faces five felony charges (and one misdemeanor charge) that could land him in prison for life. Closing arguments start on Monday.
*I thought the headline below from the Washington Post was funny. Will each of the two companies be named “Johnson”? Click on screenshot to read. The company will split into a consumer division (Johnson, Jr.?) and the Big Daddy, a medical-products/pharmaceutical division (Johnson Senior).
*In his latest Weekly Dish column, Andrew Sullivan gives a number of narratives covered by the mainstream media that, he claims, were reported in a false and distorted way (one of them is the early report that Kyle Rittenhouse committed two unprovoked murders). What bothers him is that the narratives all exculpate the Left or buttress Left-wing sentiments.:
We all get things wrong. What makes this more worrying is simply that all these false narratives just happen to favor the interests of the left and the Democratic party. And corrections, when they occur, take up a fraction of the space of the original falsehoods. These are not randos tweeting false rumors. They are the established press.
. . . I still rely on the MSM for so much. I still read the NYT first thing in the morning. I don’t want to feel as if everything I read is basically tilted through wish-fulfillment, narrative-proving, and ideology. But with this kind of record, how can I not?
We need facts and objectivity more than ever. Trump showed that. What we got in the MSM was an over-reaction, a reflexive overreach to make the news fit the broader political fight. This is humanly understandable. It is professionally unacceptable. And someone has got to stop it.
*It appears to be big news that Britney Spears’s conservatorship, headed by her father, has ended, and she’s back in control of her life (her dad started the issue 14 years ago, citing Spears’s mental health problems) The streets outside the courtroom were packed and everyone cheered when the announcement was made. I’m puzzled why this is such big news, though. I know she was a music star years ago, but is that the sole reason? Or has this become some kind of symbolic human-rights issue? Perhaps if I were a fan I’d understand.
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 761,354 an increase of 1,120 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,107,127, an increase of about 8,900 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on November 13 includes:
- 1002 – English king Æthelred II orders the killing of all Danes in England, known today as the St. Brice’s Day massacre.
- 1841 – James Braid first sees a demonstration of animal magnetism by Charles Lafontaine, which leads to his study of the subject he eventually calls hypnotism.
- 1940 – Walt Disney‘s animated musical film Fantasia is first released, on the first night of a roadshow at New York’s Broadway Theatre.
“Fantasia” is a brilliant film. Here’s just a bit: Mickey as “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”:
It’s a semiautomatic rifle that is now manufactured everywhere, and comes with 20- and 30- round magazines. The “47” in the name comes from the year that Mikhail Kalashnikov invented it. Wikipedia notes that about 15% of all the 500 million firearms in the world are in the Kalashnikov family. An early model:
- 1954 – Great Britain defeats France to capture the first ever Rugby League World Cup in Paris in front of around 30,000 spectators.
Here are some scenes from that first World Cup:
- 1982 – The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C. after a march to its site by thousands of Vietnam War veterans.
It’s a beautiful spot and a sad one, bearing the names of 58,320 members of the military killed in Vietnam (these include eight women). I remember when young Maya Lin, then an undergraduate at Yale, submitted the winning design. Now she’s 62! Here’s a photo; curiously, though I’ve been to D.C. many times (it was the only place before Chicago I thought of as “home,” I’ve never visited it). I think it would upset me because every name represents a person who died in a war that achieved nothing.
- 2001 – War on Terror: In the first such act since World War II, US President George W. Bush signs an executive order allowing military tribunals against foreigners suspected of connections to terrorist acts or planned acts on the United States.
- 2015 – Islamic State operatives carry out a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris, including suicide bombings, mass shootings and a hostage crisis. The terrorists kill 130 people, making it the deadliest attack in France since the Second World War.
Notables born on this day include:
Yes, he believed Genesis was literally true but also had metaphorical truth. If someone tells you he saw Genesis as a metaphor, write them off as theological chowderheads. He also believed in angels and was obsessed with classifying them.
- 1838 – Joseph F. Smith, American religious leader, 6th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (d. 1918).
Smith was the nephew of the Mormonism founder Joseph Smith. The nephew had six wives and 48 children (!), shown in the photo below from 1901. Smith is the bearded sage in the middle:
This is the first time I’ve looked for a photo of Stevenson, and he looks pretty much as I imagined. He died of a vascular event on Samoa at age 44, and is buried on a mountain there. The second photo shows him in his house on Vailima, Samoa, which still stands as a Stevenson museum.
- 1856 – Louis Brandeis, American lawyer and jurist (d. 1941)
- 1924 – Motoo Kimura, Japanese biologist and geneticist (d. 1994)
Kimura is regarded as the main founder of the “neutral theory” of population genetics, which describes what happens to gene variants when they are not affected by natural selection (it’s a “genetic drift” model). I met him once in Toronto in 1988 and got his autograph on his most famous book, The Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution. (I have a bunch of evolution books and letters that are signed, and some day I will give them away—but to whom?):
- 1955 – Whoopi Goldberg, American actress, comedian, and talk show host
Her real name is Caryn Elaine Johnson, and she won an Oscar for best supporting actress in the movie “Ghost”.
- 1969 – Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Somalian-American activist and author
Those who said their last farewells on November 13 include:
- 1868 – Gioachino Rossini, Italian pianist and composer (b. 1792)
- 1974 – Karen Silkwood, American technician and activist (b. 1946)
Silkwood died under mysterious circumstances, perhaps connected with her attempts to report poor manufacturing practices in a Kerr-McGee nuclear fuel factory. A photo is below, and then the trailer of the 1983 film “Silkwood,” which starred Meryl Streep as Silkwood and Cher as her friend.
- 1994 – Motoo Kimura, Japanese biologist and geneticist (b. 1924)
He died on his 70th birthday. See above.
- 2016 – Leon Russell, American singer-songwriter (b. 1942)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn Hili makes a pronouncement:
Hili: Nature is like a book.A: Interesting?Hili: It depends.
Hili: Natura jest jak książka.Ja: Ciekawa?Hili: A to różnie.
A meme from Bruce:
I love this contest; the answers are almost always clever. I remember one from years ago: “Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.” In the list below, I like “Pokemon” best.
A tweet from Yahweh:
Wow. Guess I wasn’t paying attention when I minted this winner. pic.twitter.com/AevgMdWRo1
— God (@god) June 26, 2021
From Anna. Apparently the American Mathematical Society has fractured because many people considered it too woke. The offspring society, at the link below (with a list of founders) is the Association for Mathematical Research. Here, “Dr. Abolish the Police” (wouldn’t you know?) demonizes the new anti-woke society.
New list of racist and racism-supporting mathematicians just dropped. People not to work with or send your students to https://t.co/VaiObxc4lu
— DR. ABOLISH THE POLICE (@pwr2dppl) November 11, 2021
From Barry; nice pet! (Sound up.)
— Dudes Posting Their W’s (@DudespostingWs) October 2, 2021
From Simon. If I saw this sign I’d walk in and say, “I’d like a case of Covid, please.” Note the tweet is from Nate Silver.
The rare occasion when things get a lot *better* if you read the fine print. pic.twitter.com/haQnHxncrw
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) November 12, 2021
From Luana; this is news to me. “MAPs” are people attracted to minors. I guess they don’t seem themselves as “pedophiles” if they don’t act on their attraction, but I thought pedophile simply means the same thing as “MAP”. Look at the ages of the attractors in the second tweet.
Sound up for the first one:
W O O D C H I P P E R https://t.co/QN2P7X7ID2
— Olivia Rondeau 🇺🇸 (@rondeaulivia) November 12, 2021
so i managed to sneak into a “””””MAP”””” dm group and it’s only slightly more disturbing as anything else they post publicly. literally no “support” happening just basically creepy fetish talk. (short thread) pic.twitter.com/F7spqxT7oD
— shoe (@shoe0nhead) December 12, 2018
Tweets from Matthew. The first one reminds me of the nightly foraging exodus of bats from under the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas.
#Zambia Tourism Agency in partnership with various media houses witnessing the Annual Bat Migration at Kasanka NP.
— Zambia Tourism Agency (@TourismZambia) November 9, 2021
Speaking of bats, look at this adorable little guy nomming papaya! This is a wrinkle-faced bat from Central America.
For your enjoyment: Centurio senex eating papaya pic.twitter.com/LcadCd3XTt
— Melissa Ingala 🦇 (@bat_biomes) November 12, 2021