Welcome to Monday, November 22, 2021: National Cranberry Relish Day. Oy! But here’s a fun cranberry fact that will make you the life of the party at Thanksgiving dinner:
If you strung all the cranberries produced in North America last year, they would stretch from Boston to Los Angeles more than 565 times.
It’s also National Go for a Ride Day, National Stop the Violence Day, and Day of the Albanian Alphabet (in Albania). Below is an old version of Albanian alphabet; you can see the modern boring one here.
The Caucasian Albanian alphabet, which is also known as the Old Udi script, was used by the Caucasian Albanians, speakers of a northeast Caucasian language who lived in parts of what is now Azerbaijan and Daghestan. The alphabet was mentioned in some early sources, and was rediscovered in 1937 by Professor Ilia Abuladze in an Armenian language manuscript dating from the 15th century. The manuscript contained details of alphabets such as Armenian, Greek, Latin, Georgian, Coptic and Caucasian Albanian, which was referred to as “Ałuanic girn e“, which means “Aghuanic alphabet/writing” in Armen
News of the Day:
*Five people were killed and more than 40 injured yesterday afternoon in Waukesha, Wisconsin (a suburb of Milwaukee) when a red SUV crashed through barriers and plowed into the crowd gathered for the annual Christmas parade. Many of the injured were children. Witnesses said the car swerved, deliberately trying to hit people. At least they appear to have caught the killer:
Chief Daniel Thompson of the Waukesha Police Department said on Sunday night that a person of interest was in custody and that there was no further threat. Eyewitnesses described the driver as male, but that was not confirmed by the police. Chief Thompson said shots were fired by the police at the driver.
*The NYT highlights Nancy Pelosi’s backchannel communications with Joe Manchin about the Build Back Better bill, soon to be in the Senate. Apparently, they’ve reached some kind of “understanding” that convinces Pelosi that the BBB bill will be passed, even in a severely whittled-down form:
But in the weeks since their call, Mr. Manchin has privately expressed an openness to embracing a costlier plan than the one he initially insisted upon, and the speaker now says she is confident that the measure approved by the House will re-emerge from the Senate mostly intact.
“They may want to hone or sharpen this or that, and that’s a negotiation,” Ms. Pelosi said of the Senate. “But 90-some percent of that bill is what it is.”
But the article says bupkes about Kyrsten “Get out of my stall” Sinema, and I wonder if Pelosi has gotten her on the safety-net train yet.
*Meanwhile, the GOP and conservative donors are pumping money into Manchin’s and Sinema’s coffers. I knew that Sinema was approved by the Right for her opposition to increased taxes on corporations and the very rich, but I didn’t know that conservatives were handing them money:
Over the summer, as he was working to scale back President Biden’s domestic agenda, Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia traveled to an $18 million mansion in Dallas for a fund-raiser that attracted Republican and corporate donors who have cheered on his efforts.
In September, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who along with Mr. Manchin has been a major impediment to the White House’s efforts to pass its package of social and climate policy, stopped by the same home to raise money from a similar cast of donors for her campaign coffers.
Even as Ms. Sinema and Mr. Manchin, both Democrats, have drawn fire from the left for their efforts to shrink and reshape Mr. Biden’s proposals, they have won growing financial support from conservative-leaning donors and business executives in a striking display of how party affiliation can prove secondary to special interests and ideological motivations when the stakes are high enough.
Each Senator has to vote their own beliefs, usually in the interests of their constituents, but sometimes I wonder why Sinema doesn’t switch to being a Republican.
*Two of the seventeen American and Canadian missionary hostages in Haiti were released yesterday by the criminal gang who abducted them, demanding a ransom of $1 million per hostage. The U.S. won’t pay up, as per our foreign policy (it would encourage massive kidnappings), and we know little about who was released, or why:
Christian Aid Ministries issued a statement saying it could not give the names of those released, why they were freed or other information.
“While we rejoice at this release, our hearts are with the 15 people who are still being held,” the group said.
*Europe is undergoing a resurgence of Covid-19, and new regulations are being put in place by several governments. In Belgium and Holland, the public, chafing after nearly two years of restrictions, have begun engaging in violent demonstrations. The Dutch police even fired rubber bullets at demonstrators. Now Austria is beginning a ten-day lockdown today, while the unvaccinated have already been locked down.
*I love “best of” lists, as they provide valuable guides to books, music, and food. Especially books. The Washington Post has just published a list of “The ten best books of 2021,” and it’s a mother lode of suggested reading. The one I want to read first is Klara and the Sun by Nobel Laureate Kazuo Ishiguro, now “Sir Kazuo.” I’ve read several of Ishiguro’s books, and they’re always fascinating; I especially like The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go (both made into wonderful films). The Post’s take on Klara:
Ishiguro’s first novel since winning the Nobel Prize is a delicate, haunting story. Klara, the narrator of this genre-straddling novel, is an Artificial Friend designed to provide companionship to teenagers. Why young people need robot companions is one of the questions that Ishiguro raises but postpones so naturally that the horror feels almost incidental. Although some of the themes overlap with Ishiguro’s chilling “Never Let Me Go,” this is a gentler exploration of the price children pay for modern advancements.
Even the use of the reprehensible word “advancements” (wouldn’t “advances” do?) won’t put me off reading this novel.
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 769,769, an increase of 1,113 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,170,572, an increase of about 4,700 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on November 22 includes:
- 1718 – Royal Navy Lieutenant Robert Maynard attacks and boards the vessels of the British pirate Edward Teach (best known as “Blackbeard“) off the coast of North Carolina. The casualties on both sides include Maynard’s first officer Mister Hyde and Teach himself.
Teach’s body was thrown into the water but his head was suspended from the bowsprit:
- 1935 – The China Clipper inaugurates the first commercial transpacific air service, connecting Alameda, California with Manila.
Here’s a 7.5-minute video of a trans-Pacific trip; note that the boat is a pontoon boat, without regular landing gear:
- 1942 – World War II: Battle of Stalingrad: General Friedrich Paulus sends Adolf Hitler a telegram saying that the German 6th Army is surrounded.
Hitler’s telegram telling the soldiers to keep fighting is below. He expected them to fight to the end or, barring that, kill themselves, and was enraged when General Paulus surrendered.
- 1963 – U.S. President John F. Kennedy is assassinated and Texas Governor John Connally is seriously wounded by Lee Harvey Oswald, who also kills Dallas Police officer J. D. Tippit after fleeing the scene. U.S Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as the 36th President of the United States afterwards.
What a sad time that was! We heard the announcement over the school public-address system, and the whole nation went into shock. Here’s the famous clip of the “Zapruder film” showing Kennedy being shot, first in the throat and then in the back of the head. Warning: it’s grisly:
Franco finally died!
- 1977 – British Airways inaugurates a regular London to New York City supersonic Concorde service.
Here’s what it was like to fly on the Concorde from London to NYC. Look at those noms! Caviar! Steak!
- 1990 – British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher withdraws from the Conservative Party leadership election, confirming the end of her Prime-Ministership.
- 1995 – Toy Story is released as the first feature-length film created completely using computer-generated imagery.
I loved this movie, which was immensely clever. Here’s the trailer:
- 2005 – Angela Merkel becomes the first female Chancellor of Germany.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1744 – Abigail Adams, American wife of John Adams, 2nd First Lady of the United States (d. 1818)
- 1869 – André Gide, French novelist, essayist, and dramatist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1951)
Here’s Gide photographed by Lady Ottoline Morrell in 1924.
- 1890 – Charles de Gaulle, French general and politician, 18th President of France (d. 1970)
- 1898 – Wiley Post, American pilot (d. 1935)
Post was killed along with comedian Will Rogers in a plane accident in Alaska. Here are the two men before their trip:; Rogers in on the wing and Post is in front with the eyepatch (his eye was blinded in an oil-rig accident):
- 1917 – Andrew Huxley, English physiologist and biophysicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2012)
Together with Alan Lloyd Hodgkin, Huxley discovered the basis for the propagation of impulses through the nerves.
- 1921 – Rodney Dangerfield, American comedian, actor, rapper, and screenwriter (d. 2004)
His real name was Jacob Rodney Cohen, for virtually all comedians then, for reasons I can’t fathom, were Jewish. How can I not show one of his bits? He was the king of one-liners, and here’s his act on the Johnny Carson Show, followed by conversation (or rather a monologue) with Johnny. This brand of comedy is verboten these days.
And here’s his tombstone, witty to the end, at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.
- 1940 – Terry Gilliam, American-English actor, director, animator, and screenwriter
- 1943 – Billie Jean King, American tennis player and sportscaster
- 1967 – Boris Becker, German-Swiss tennis player and coach
- 1984 – Scarlett Johansson, American actress
Those who dropped on November 22 include:
- 1718 – Blackbeard, English pirate (b. 1680) [See above].
- 1900 – Arthur Sullivan, English composer and scholar (b. 1842)
- 1902 – Walter Reed, American physician and entomologist (b. 1851)
Reed did pathbreaking work on yellow fever, drawing on the work of Carlos Finlay, who demonstrated that yellow fever was transmitted only by the bite of one species of mosquito. Ordering mosquito eradication during the building of the Panama Canal, Reed saved many lives. A photo:
- 1943 – Lorenz Hart, American playwright and composer (b. 1895)
- 1955 – Shemp Howard, American actor and comedian (b. 1895)
The least visible of the Stooges, his real name was Schmeul Horwitz, and he, like Curly and Mo, were Jewish (and brothers). From Wikipedia:
Howard was born Samuel Horwitz in Manhattan, New York on March 17, 1895, and raised in Brooklyn. He was the third-born of the five Horwitz brothers born to Lithuanian Jewish parents Solomon Horwitz (1872–1943) and Jennie Horwitz (1870–1939). Irving and Benjamin (Jack) were his older brothers; Moses (Moe) and Jerome (Curly) were his younger brothers.
Howard’s first name, Shmuel (after his grandfather), was anglicized to Samuel, and his parents and brothers usually called him Sam.
Fun fact: Shemp married Gertrude Frank, whose first cousin was Barney Frank, the former U.S. Representative. Here’s Shemp (he called himself “the ugliest man in Hollywood”):
- 1963 – Aldous Huxley, English novelist and philosopher (b. 1894)
- 1963 – John F. Kennedy, American lieutenant and politician, 35th President of the United States (b. 1917)
- 1963 – C. S. Lewis, British writer, critic and Christian apologist (b. 1898)
Note that Aldous Huxley, JFK, and C. S. Lewis all died on the same day. JFK’s assassination, however, overshadowed the other deaths. Here’s C.S. Liar, lunatic, or lord?
- 1980 – Mae West, American actress, singer, and screenwriter (b. 1893). Note the reason why lifejackets used to be called “Mae Wests”.
- 1981 – Hans Adolf Krebs, German-English physician and biochemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1900)
- 2011 – Lynn Margulis, American biologist and academic (b. 1938)
Margulis was famous for her “endosymbiotic hypothesis”, which turned out to be true. But later in her life she went off the rails, and wrote (with her son) the worst book I’ve ever read on speciation. Dawkins has a particularly scathing review of another of her books in Books Do Furnish A Life.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is being opaque again. When I asked Malgorzata what Hili means, I got this reply:
If you can create alternative history for the US (1619 Project), alternative history for Israel/Palestine, alternative history for Poland (a long story), why not an alternative history for mice?A: What are you doing?Hili: I’m creating an alternative history for mice.
Ja: Co robisz?Hili: Tworzę alternatywną historię dla myszy.
From Nicole, a “non-green” pumpkin pie:
From Ricky Gervais: Season 3 of “After Life” is coming! I quite liked that show, and it has the added bonus of Diane Morgen, aka Philomena Cunk. I’m looking forward to what happens.
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) November 21, 2021
From Ginger K: Now this is art!
— #WOMENSART (@womensart1) November 13, 2021
From the Auschwitz Memorial:
21 November 1926 | A German Jewish girl, Margot Brückheimer, was born in Heidelberg. She emigrated to The Netherlands.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) November 21, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. The first video shows you how truly beautiful—and weird—giraffes are. And yes, a group of these creatures is called “a tower of giraffes.”
WATCH: Stunning footage captures a large tower of giraffes moving across an area of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania | @Vangio_Robles
🎥 Exaud Marandu pic.twitter.com/sB4ElSogsP
— CNN Philippines (@cnnphilippines) November 21, 2021
These look like two moray eels. But what are they doing? Matthew says, “Can’t tell what is going on here – mutual cleaning? They both seem both unfazed and also bemused by the whole thing.” I’m baffled too—you tell us!
The translation doesn’t help.
ま ち が え た 〜
— すさみ町立エビとカニの水族館 (@ebikaniaquarium) November 20, 2021
There’s nothing new under the sun—look at this ancient Roman knife. It even has a toothpick, just like Swiss Army knives!
Ancient Roman multitool/pocket knife, the 3rd century AD
Roman multitool/pocket knife from Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge is dated to the 3rd century AD. This iron and silver tool is startlingly similar to the modern Swiss Army Knife pic.twitter.com/c6yZtUbjcp
— Roman History (@romanhistory1) November 20, 2021
This is an new tweet touting a 2019 article, but still a fascinating one. PIGS USING TOOLS! I put the video below so you can see what the snouters are doing.
PIGS. WITH. TOOLS!https://t.co/wwN64SXwJq
— Ellery Frahm (@elleryfrahm) November 20, 2021