Welcome to the cruelest Day: Tuesday, November 23, 2021: National Espresso Day, the perfect pick-me-up in the drowsy afternoon. Here’s the espresso machine and bean grinder I have in my office. They were always the most important piece of lab equipment I had:
It’s also Dr. Who Day, celebrating the airing of the first episode (see 1963 below), Eat a Cranberry Day, National Cashew Day, Repudiation Day in Frederick County, Maryland (the day in 1765 when the colony repudiated the British Stamp Act), and Fibonacci Day. explained thusly:
November 23—or 11/23—is the date of Fibonacci Day because the first series of numbers in the Fibonacci sequence are 1, 1, 2, and 3. The sequence is created by adding the previous two numbers to get the third number, so it begins as follows: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, and 144.
News of the Day:
*Today is the deadline for all U.S. federal workers to have been vaccinated or met other covid restrictions. Compliance isn’t perfect: the White House estimated yesterday that 90% of federal workers have had at least one vaccination, while 95% are vaccinated or “have a pending religious or medical exemption request.” We’ll see how hard the government cracks down on the refusers. My view is they have to be put on leave or fired.
*The death toll at Waukesha, Wisconsin, where a man out on bail ran his SUV into a Christmas parade, remains at five, ranging in age from 53 to 81, but 48 people are injured, some of them children and some of them critically. It wasn’t a terrorist attack, but the accused killer had just been involved in a domestic dispute and may have been working out his anger.
The driver, identified by the authorities as Darrell E. Brooks, 39, who had a long history of arrests, had left the scene of a domestic disturbance involving a knife moments before the incident, police said.
The cops caught Brooks after a chase, and it’s likely that this will be the last act of crime in his career.
*Out in San Jose, California, accused Theranos grifter Elizabeth Holmes, deciding to testify in her own defense, was put on the stand and fed softball questions by her attorneys. Her testimony was how she really, really believed in her blood-testing machine (even though previous testimony showed that she knew it was deeply flawed. She was cast as a visionary:
“We thought this was a really big idea,” Ms. Holmes said of Theranos’s attempts to remove human error from steps involved in the testing process by automating it.
Ms. Holmes’s narrative is an effort to strike back at prosecutors’ allegations that Ms. Holmes knew Theranos’s blood-testing technology was inaccurate and unreliable when she solicited hundreds of millions of dollars from investors and the startup rolled out its testing to patients. She has appeared confident and relaxed on the witness stand.
But is she going to be the only defense witness?
Ms. Holmes first took the stand Friday, hours after the government called its last witness. Her testimony followed two other witnesses presented by the defense, including a former board member who joined after Theranos’s problems came to light. The defense could call other witnesses after Ms. Holmes’s testimony concludes, though criminal-defense lawyers say defendants typically take the stand last.
I can’t believe that this is the only defense they could mount, though Holmes will probably testify that her business and romantic partner Sunny Balwani was really pulling the strings. She’s hoping to win over the jury just as she won over her investors. Her questioning continues Monday, and then the prosecution gets a cross-examination, which will really be a show.
*Have a look at the short article in Persuasion by French feminist Caroline Fouret: “How women from different generations can understand each other” In France, Left-wing feminists have fractured into two camps, the ‘”universalists” who hold classical liberal ideals, and the “identitarian” who we’d call “woke”. (h/t: Steve):
There’s a big difference between the universalists and what we call in France “identitarians”: those who are obsessed with identity. It’s an obsession you find on the extreme right; but also, these days, on the extreme left. Intersectional feminists seem to believe that being born a woman, or gay, or black, or Muslim is, in itself, what gives you the right to be listened to as a victim, or even the right to forbid someone else from speaking. And they don’t forbid someone from speaking because he or she necessarily is an oppressor. They forbid them because he or she is white, straight, or non-Muslim, and born into the camp of the “oppressors”.
Personally, I belong to the type of feminism that believes in freedom of speech, deconstructionism, and universalism. I believe in a feminist movement that includes everyone who wants sincerely to demolish the patriarchal system, rather than canceling potential allies.
Fouret’s solution doesn’t bode well:
The question should not be: “Tell me what your identity is and I will tell you whether you can speak!” The question should be: “What are you doing for equality?” This is a far more effective way to obtain allies and convince people. But I am not sure that some identitarian feminists want to convince. They want a “seat at the table”—for them, first. Many come from privileged backgrounds, rich families, and the top American universities. It’s an elite strategy to obtain more power, rather than obtaining equality.
*Reports from Afghanistan via the IPT (the Investigative Project on Terrorism, which specifically investigates Islamic terrorism, reports widespread and brutal violence against peaceful Afghans, especially women.
A young man was shot to death in Badakhshan last week for listening to music. At the end of October, the Taliban shot three people to death for playing music at a wedding. We know that impoverished and starving families are selling their 9-year-old daughters to strangers for food money; and, I’ve been told that criminals are offering money for human organs.
The Taliban have been hunting house by house, in district after district, for known women’s rights activists. Suddenly, a woman—a friend, a colleague, a neighbor—disappears and is never seen again.
This was all predictable, and on the recent nightly NBC News there were scenes of an distraught Afghan man selling his 9 year old daughter into marriage with a much older man, because they needed the money for food. The Taliban asserted that they wouldn’t trample on women’s rights, but anybody who believed that was a fool.
*The NYT put up a list of the “100 notable books of 2021“, exactly one of them, Life’s Edge by Carl Zimmer, is a trade book about science, and there’s a book about the reconstructed lives of the Neanderthals from archaeological data. At most, 2% of the books deal with science. I suspect this is more about what interests the NYT and its public than about a paucity of science books this year.
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 773,106, an increase of 1,092 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,177,568, an increase of about 7,000 over yesterday’s total.
Reports suggest that we may be headed into yet another Covid spike this winter. Oy!
Stuff that happened on November 23 includes:
- 1644 – A tweet from Matthew:
23 November 1644. John Milton published Areopagitica, a pamphlet opposing censorship. It’s regarded as one of the most influential and impassioned philosophical defences of the principle of a right to freedom of speech and expression. pic.twitter.com/sgkaY4EbHD
— Prof Frank McDonough (@FXMC1957) November 23, 2021
- 1876 – Corrupt Tammany Hall leader William Magear Tweed (better known as Boss Tweed) is delivered to authorities in New York City after being captured in Spain.
The great political cartoonist Thomas Nast was on a ceaseless campaign against Boss Tweed and his henchmen. Here’s a cartoon with the Wikipedia caption, “A Group of Vultures Waiting for the Storm to “Blow Over”—”Let Us Prey.” by Thomas Nast, Harper’s Weekly newspaper, September 23, 1871. “Boss” Tweed and members of his ring, Peter B. Sweeny, Richard B. Connolly, and A. Oakey Hall, weathering a violent storm on a ledge with the picked-over remains of New York City.”
- 1924 – Edwin Hubble’s discovery, that the Andromeda “nebula” is actually another island galaxy far outside our own Milky Way, is first published in The New York Times.
- 1963 – The BBC broadcasts An Unearthly Child (starring William Hartnell), the first episode of the first story from the first series of Doctor Who, which is now the world’s longest running science fiction drama.
Here’s that first episode, with the first Doctor entering the Tardis for the first time:
- 1976 – Apneist Jacques Mayol is the first man to reach a depth of 100 m undersea without breathing equipment.
Here’s a video of Mayol deep-diving; note that his “free” dives are assisted by a motorized device. He set the world record of 105 meters when he was 56 years old. Turn the music off, though!
- 1981 – Iran–Contra affair: Ronald Reagan signs the top secret National Security Decision Directive 17 (NSDD-17), giving the Central Intelligence Agency the authority to recruit and support Contra rebels in Nicaragua.
- 1992 – The first smartphone, the IBM Simon, is introduced at COMDEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Here’s the unwieldy Simon phone in its charging base:
- 2005 – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is elected president of Liberia and becomes the first woman to lead an African country.
The first elected woman to head an African state, and here she is:
- 2015 – Blue Origin‘s New Shepard space vehicle became the first rocket to successfully fly to space and then return to Earth for a controlled, vertical landing.
Here’s a 3-minute video of that first successful launch and landing. Music is dreadful!
Notables born on this day include:
- 1804 – Franklin Pierce, American general, lawyer, and politician, 14th President of the United States (d. 1869)
- 1883 – José Clemente Orozco, Mexican painter (d. 1949)
Along with Diego Rivera, Orozco was one of Mexico’s finest muralists. Here’s his “The Epic of American Civilization” (1932-1934), which you can see in the reading room of Dartmouth’s library! It has 24 panels:
- 1888 – Harpo Marx, American comedian and musician (d. 1964)
Harpo was actually a member of the famous Algonquin Round Table, where famous wags convened to drink and be witty. Here’s a photo with the caption from Wikipedia. I’ve circled Harpo, who is unrecognizable without his wig.
- 1924 – Colin Turnbull, English-American anthropologist and author (d. 1994)
- 1942 – Susan Anspach, American actress (d. 2018)
Anspach in Five Easy Pieces:
- 1946 – Bobby Rush, American activist and politician
Rush is my Congressional representative. Doesn’t he look a bit like Barak Obama with the thin face and big ears? Cover his beard to improve the resemblance.
- 1953 – Rick Bayless, American chef and author
- 1954 – Bruce Hornsby, American singer-songwriter and pianist
- 1992 – Miley Cyrus, American singer-songwriter and actress
Those who succumbed on November 23 include:
- 1814 – Elbridge Gerry, American merchant and politician, 5th Vice President of the United States of America (b. 1744)
- 1990 – Roald Dahl, British novelist, poet, and screenwriter (b. 1916)
- 1991 – Klaus Kinski, German-American actor and director (b. 1926)
- 1992 – Roy Acuff, American singer-songwriter and fiddler (b. 1903)
- 1995 – Louis Malle, French-American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1932)
- 1995 – Junior Walker, American singer and saxophonist (b. 1931)
Junior Walker playing my favorite song of his. Great sax solos!
- 2006 – Anita O’Day, American singer (b. 1919)
The great O’Day with a jazz version of “Honeysuckle Rose”:
- 2014 – Marion Barry, American lawyer and politician, 2nd Mayor of the District of Columbia (b. 1936)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is once again acting enigmatic:
Hili: Something must be done.A: What must be done?Hili: I don’t know yet.
Hili: Trzeba coś zrobić.Ja: Co trzeba zrobić?Hili: Jeszcze nie wiem.
There is a new book for teenagers and young adults with text by Andrzej and photos of Kulka and other non-felid animals by Paulina. Malgorzata describes it as “a quite serious description of the way morality evolved among humans with quite a lot of biology in it.”
Here’s a picture and a promotion for the book put on FB by Andrzej. The promo has been translated from Polish by Malgorzata.
I separated the light from the darkness by one meow and it was good but I was still hungry. I created mice and other creatures and it was good, too. Still though there was a lack of a creature which would praise and serve me. I made it out of flesh and bone and I gave it reason so it would know where to place my bowl and what to fill it with. Having created humans [człowieków – this is gramatically very incorrect form often ascribed to talking cats when they speak about people. MK] in two copies I said: go forth and multiply but not excessively, and I saw that these humans were good, at least from time to time they were good. You can read more by yourself in a book you can buy by yourself here and in many other places, and you will find in it plenty of pictures of me, so that you could start peregrination with my picture by clicking on the right link.
Here’s the entry on Andrzej’s Facebook page: and an illustration from the book. It is, of course, Kulka, photographed by Paulina.
The book: The title is Skąd się wzięło dobro i zło; i kilka innych pytań, which means: Where good and evil came from; and a few other questions (the second bits are in smaller letters)
A meme from Matthew:
I found this tweet: it’s a lovely video in which singer Adele is surprised by one of her favorite teachers, whom she hasn’t seen in years. An outburst of love and tear ensues. Note that the person asking the question is Emma Thompson:
We all have that one teacher who changed our life… such a beautiful reunion! ❤️
— ITV (@ITV) November 21, 2021
A tweet from Ginger K.:
— Meow (@MeowingTv) November 12, 2021
From the Auschwitz Memorial:
22 November 1934 | A Dutch Jewish girl, Judic Vischjager, was born in Amsterdam.
She arrived at #Auschwitz on 12 November 1942 in a group of 758 Jews deported from #Westerbork. Together with her brother Jacob she was among 707 of them murdered after the selection in gas chambers. pic.twitter.com/w05l5CRuBA
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) November 22, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. This is an example of a character exaggerated in males, and so implies the action of sexual selection. The flies most likely butt heads with other males, and the one with the longer eyes wins, getting the female.
Stalk-eyed Fruit #Fly, male (Pelmatops tangliangi, Tephritidae)
Females have stalked eyes also, but in the males it is insanely exaggerated. Eyeball to eyeball in this case is around 35mm (1 1/3 inches).https://t.co/iHN54flRua#insect #China #Yunnan #Diptera #itchydogimages pic.twitter.com/X3CoohocyT
— John Horstman (@sinobug) November 21, 2021
Matthew tweeted this cool courtship ritual, and Ziya Tong sent hearts, which makes me jealous.
— Earthling (@ziyatong) November 21, 2021
Well how many of them had even seen an elephant? They couldn’t draw cats, either, but at least they’d seen moggies!
500 years of Medieval Europeans trying (failing) to accurately depict an elephant. pic.twitter.com/iE0VQNkM7i
— Jordan Tierney (@jordantyranny) November 21, 2021
Oy, they’re onto us!
which one of you told the goyim our agenda :/ pic.twitter.com/ZYLi3LBtW1
— aviva (@aviva_kosher) November 20, 2021